I’m hearing that Bill Turncoat Dunn MEP, hoping to be re-elected in June on the Lib-Dem list, has been going around the region making highly personalised attacks on me. Nothing new there, except that he’s chosen a rather odd line of attack. He asserts that I voted against transparency of MEPs expenses. Frankly, I have no idea what he’s on about, but if he’d like to send me chapter and verse, I’d be happy to check it and see what I did.
It’s good to know that Bill has the time to go trawling through the old voting records of other MEPs to see if he can dredge up a new line of attack. But then as Harold Wilson said, “Politics is the language of priorities”, and clearly Bill’s top priority is taking a pop at me.
I say an odd line of attack, though, because I, with other Conservative colleagues, have been at the forefront of the campaign to cut waste in the EU, and to ensure that MEPs’ expenses are fair and transparent. We have campaigned to save the £180 million cost of the Strasbourg parliament, by consolidating the parliament’s work in Brussels. We have successfully supported the new “Members Statute”, which will be in place from July this year, and which will introduce a much fairer and more transparent expenses scheme, with (for example) travel expenses paid against receipts. And Conservatives have pioneered the most extensive and transparent publication of all our MEPs’ expenses (mine included), available on the web. Before criticising Conservatives, maybe Bill should publish the same sort of information.
But we must remember the sort of chap Bill is. Three times he was elected as Conservative MEP for Lincolnshire, by the hard work and shoe-leather of Party members and activists in the County. That was 1979, 1984 and 1989. Then in 1994 he lost the seat, and was in the wilderness for five years. Seeking re-selection on the new regional list system in 1998 for the 1999 election, he deliberately misrepresented his opinions about Europe at his selection meeting. Let’s be absolutely clear about this: MEPs don’t like to accuse other MEPs of lying. It’s a nasty word. But Bill secured election to a well-paid political job by making statements in front of 350 people which were simply not true. He then showed his true colours a year or so after the election when he left the Party to join the Lib-Dems.
I would never criticise a man for changing his mind. But I blame Bill for failing to be honest and straightforward about his views. If he had told the selection committee what he really thought about Europe (as, to his credit, another former Tory MEP did when seeking re-election in the region), he would never have been selected. But Bill chose to let down all those party activists in Lincolnshire, and up and down the region, who worked for his re-election, and they have never forgiven him for it.
I’m afraid that Bill has become a sad and embittered old man, haunted by his betrayal of friends and colleagues, gnawing at the bones of his resentment. He seems to have given up on practical politics in favour of obsessive and irrational personal animosity.
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