Returning to the subject of the Hounslow & Brentford Times, today's issue published most of the letter I sent them concerning the obscene expense claims which continue to be made by our borough's two alleged Members of Parliament, the appallingly mercenary Alan and Ann Keen, who have purchased a luxury second home at the expense of the taxpayer which spares them the trauma of having to travel nine miles to work each day from their Brentford residence.
An Osterley correspondent has written to complain about the lack of service which she has allegedly received from Mrs. Keen, whilst somebody from Chiswick defends the pair, arguing that they have done nothing that is against the rules. I have to say the letters which local newspapers receive in the Keens' defence have a remarkably similar tone to them, implying some degree of central co-ordination - a tactic which New Labour frequently uses both with letters to the local newspapers and with postings on internet forums.
Unfortunately the Editor decided to chop my letter down to about 75% of its original size, either because it was too long or because she didn't like the comments which I made about certain members of the Keens' propaganda team (the worryingly obsessive Robin Taylor and P. Haling of Southall, who may or may not be one and the same person), which I feel upsets the flow of the letter somewhat. I reproduce the original in its entirety below:
" Dear Editor
"With reference to your open letter to our Members of Parliament Ann and Alan Keen ('Wish you were here' - Times, 30th May 2008).
"If Mr.and Mrs. Keen are away on holiday then they are entitled to that. I hope they have an enjoyable and a relaxing time away from the undoubtedly demanding pressures of their work.
"When they return, I hope they will furnish you, and us, with the full and frank explanation which we were promised at the election count in 2005 for their seemingly extravagent and cavalier approach to members' expense claims.
"Of course, this is not just about Mr. and Mrs. Keen. In order to serve as our Members of Parliament they need first to be selected by their party to represent them at the polls. At the last time of asking nine out of ten Labour ward parties selected Mrs. Keen to be the Labour candidate at the 2005 general election. Nine out of ten Labour ward parties believe her mercenary approach, and that of her husband, to using their constituents' money to maximum advantage in order to fund an unnecessarily extravagent lifestyle to be perfectly acceptable conduct.
"Beyond this, the Keens would seem to be able to call upon the services of a veritable army of acolytes, apologists and general hangers-on who invariably spring into action whenever a local newspaper has the temerity to call their heroes' deeds into question.
"The first line of defence is always that 'they are not breaking any rules' ('In defence of Ann Keen' - Sue Sampson, 30.5.08). Our MPs are so super that they deserve anything they can get their hands on and the hoi polloi should be grateful that they deign to represent us at all. If it isn't actually against the law to claim it, then they should claim it.
"The second old chestnut is that other Members of Parliament, from other political parties, are making similarly unjustifiable claims and that this in some way mitigates or even justifies their actions. Of course other MPs from across the political divide are indeed exploiting the rules in a similar way, but that is for their own constituents to deal with. The Keens are our constituency MPs.
"Thirdly comes the frankly obscene comparison between the £34k p.a. salary received by the Leader of Hounslow Council and the £16k p.a. paid to members of the Executive, some of whom work full-time for said amount, and the hitherto undisclosed concierge-and-swimming-pool life of luxury enjoyed by our MPs.
"But additional to all this the Keens are uniquely blessed with the unrelenting devotion of the scribe(s) of Southall ('Last of the big spenders' - K. Booth, 30.5.08), whose sole purpose in life would appear to be serve with undying and unquestioning loyalty another borough's two Members of Parliament. Where Hounslow's finest are either not prepared or not trusted to fight the cause of the royal household, the scribe(s) of Southall step nobly into the breach.
"Opinion varies amongst those few of us who bother to give it a second thought as to whether your newspaper's two perennial Southall correspondents are in fact the same person, or whether they somehow synthesise their ideas, weird obsessions and writing styles through some kind of telepathic process. Nevertheless for the purposes of this letter I assume them to be two different people.
"The mission of defending their liege requires the scribes of Southall to engage in all manner of intellectual contortions in order to sustain the unsustainable claim that the Keens are the victims of a policy of non co-operation by the London Borough of Hounslow when history, and - rather inconveniently - all the evidence, reveals the 'victims' to in fact be the instigators of the state of affairs of which they complain.
"Verbatim quotes from letters published in the Times twenty, sometimes thirty years ago are cited in support of their masters' plea of victimhood. One has disturbing visions of yellowing pieces of parchment being painstakingly recovered from within a large cardboard box under a Southall bed, retrieved from behind the Scalectrix set under the watchful gaze of their Donny Osmond poster.
"Armed with such damning information as to what this or that Hounslow Executive member wrote in his/her pre-adolescence, the Timewarp Twins move in to deliver the killer blow.
"All joking aside, the fact that there are those prepared to defend the actions of the Keens does not detract one iota from their essential indefensibility. To hide for three years, avoiding public situations in which questions might be put to them, only then to protest that they had sought disclosure all along adds sheer dishonesty to the charge of profligacy.
"The selection process for the Labour candidacies at the next general election will take place shortly. Those participating would do well to remember that it is not only the ethics of the Keens which is under the microscope here.
Councillor Phil Andrews -
Community, Isleworth ward"