Following on from the revelations regarding the expense claims of Anthony Steen, the Tory MP for Totnes, in 'The Daily Telegraph' Mr Steen has wisely decided to stand down at the next General Election. Mr Steen is one of those slightly eccentric old buffers that one tends to associate with the Conservative back benches. He had said that claiming the expenses that he has over the years was cheaper than having his mortgage paid for his country pile. Therefore he fails to see any problem at all with the extravagant expenses that he has picked up courtesy of the taxpayer. Bloggers, and that includes those supporting his own party, are having a right old go at him on the back of a most bizarre interview he gave on 'The World at One' today. He reckoned nobody had any business knowing about the detail of his expenses and it was all the fault of this wretched 'Freedom of Information' Act! He also stated that it was jealousy that caused the information to be published by the DT. There are times I think that he is on another planet.
Mr Steen has a bit of form on not being the best of people on the PR front. Some little while ago his car was spotted parked all day in a 'disabled driver' parking bay at Newton Abbot station. It turned out that Mr Steen was tight for time getting the early morning train, most of the normal parking spaces were full but that this 'disabled' one was free. So he took it. Now it may be that someone from another party recognised his car and decided to alert the media and cause him a bit of hassle. It was the poor response by Mr Steen that made the incident something much more than it should have been though. Lots of grumbles about not enough parking spaces and if I remember correctly it took some time for him to come out with an apology. Yes he is a bit of an oddball and he hasn't done himself any favours with today's very strange interview.
The town of Totnes itself is very alternative but only forms a small part of the constituency in terms of population. Nevertheless it would be quite interesting to see how a 'Green Party' candidate would fare here at the next election.
UPDATE: Subsequent to my writing this piece there has been an apology from Mr Steen. So praise for that. Unfortunately for him though it's his original ill-judged comments that will be remembered rather than him saying sorry.