The price of Jim Devine’s fraud

The former Labour MP for Livingston, Jim Devine, has been found guilty of defrauding the taxpayer of £8,385 by submitting false receipts. This can now been added the sums taken criminally by David Chaytor (£22,000) and Eric Illsley (£14,000) to a total of almost £45,000 stolen from the taxpayer.

The former Labour MP for Livingston, Jim Devine, has been found guilty of defrauding the taxpayer of £8,385 by submitting false receipts. Eric Ilsley, meanwhile, was sentenced to 12 months in jail. This can now been added the sums taken criminally by David Chaytor (£22,000) and Illsley (£14,000) to a total of almost £45,000 stolen from the taxpayer.

This is a double-edged outrage. First and foremost it is an illegal and immoral act, a theft of taxayers’ hard-earned money that they would have expected on to be spent on the country’s governance; national and economic security; or its social fabric.

It is the equivalent of:

• The annual salaries of two staff nurses at an NHS hospital;

• The salaries of up to one and a half midwives;

• Up to two newly-qualified teachers

However, they have also chipped away at a principle that progressives, as well as public service-conservatives hold dear: that the role of politics is to make our society better. Those who believe the opposite, that politics is only ever a cynical exercise in self-aggrandisement and accumulation, have been strengthened.

This is the long-term debt accumulated through the expenses scandal that those who believe in public service must now pay down.

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