The damage done by Illsley and Chaytor cannot be measured in pounds and pence

So far, former Labour MPs David Chaytor (Bury North) and Eric Illsley (Barnsley Central) have been found to have defrauded the taxpayer of £22,000 and £14,000.

In these times when the public sector is bracing itself for cuts so deep that they will tear into the fabric of society, it is worth measuring in terms of the services that people rely on the scale of the fraud committed by Britain’s errant MPs.

So far David Chaytor, formerly Labour MP for Bury North, and Eric Illsley, formerly Labour MP for Barnsley Central , have been found in a court of law to have defrauded the taxpayer of £22,000 and £14,000 respectively.

Cumulatively these amounts are equal to:

• One and a half newly qualified teachers;

• Three part time occupational therapists that could support children with eating disorders;

• More than two therapy assistants who help mothers after  childbirth

These are first and foremost legal crimes against society at large. But progressives have a particular greivance against them. Policies that feature the contribution of all to a common pot and the fair distribution from it, depend on trust: That no one is shirking thier responsibilities or taking what is not rightly theirs.

As custodians of this system, MPs should be especially trustworthy. That these are Labour MPs, the party that claims to have these principles at its very core, is shameful. Two more Labour MPs (Elliot Morley and Jim Devine)and two more Conservative Peers (Lord Hanningfield and Taylor), still face a legal verdict.

When it is all over, the entire political class, and those who wish to carry the progressive mantle, must be vigilant against any repeat of this tawdry episode.

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