British sleaze row hits Labour ahead of EU poll


British politicians across party lines have been hit by revelations about their expenses claims. But three weeks ahead of the EU elections, it is the ruling Labour party which appears to be the greatest victim of the row.

The YouGov poll, details of which were published today (15 May) by The Sun, put Labour at 22 percent, the Conservatives on 41 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 19 percent. The question asked is how people would vote in a general election. 

The voting intentions would be enough to give the main opposition party a landslide victory if repeated at a parliamentary election due by mid-2010. 

The YouGov poll, which sampled the views of 1,814 adults, follows several days of embarrassing revelations over parliamentarians’ expenses. 

The results compare with a BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday which gave Labour 23 percent support with the Conservatives on 45, and with an earlier YouGov poll for the Sunday Times which put Labour’s support at 27 percent, 16 points behind the Conservatives. 

The YouGov poll for the Sun also shows Labour floundering ahead of elections next month for the European Parliament. 

Asked how they would vote in the 4 June European elections, 29 percent said Conservative, 20 percent Labour and 19 percent LibDem. 

On Thursday, Labour suspended a senior MP, while a top aide to Conservative leader David Cameron stepped down in the spiralling expenses scandal. 

The Daily Telegraph newspaper has been a cause of embarrassment for all three main parties with daily revelations about how MPs have claimed for expenses such as cleaning swimming pools and moats, installing a chandelier and buying manure for the garden. 

A former agriculture minister who filed 16,000 pounds of expense claims for a mortgage he had already paid off was suspended by the Labour Party on Thursday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. 

“Where disciplinary action is necessary it will immediately be taken. That’s why today we have suspended from the parliamentary Labour Party Elliot Morley because of the allegations, that are serious, that have been made against him,” Brown said. 

The suspension was the latest development in a scandal over MPs’ expenses claims involving members from both the ruling and opposition parties. 

The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday that Morley, a Labour MP, had continued claiming for the mortgage interest on his home for more than 18 months after the loan had been repaid. 

(EURACTIV with Reuters.) 

British politicians were hit by a fresh round of revelations in the Daily Telegraph about expenses claims, which this time dragged the opposition into the fray. 

The revelations have put parliament in a spin, with MPs lining up to apologise and repay claims for furniture, gardening and maintenance now seen as inappropriate. 

Labour and its Conservative and Liberal Democrat opponents have all been embarrassed by the leaked claims, which are due to be officially published in redacted form in the summer. 

Conservative leader David Cameron has sought to use the issue to his advantage, after he was the first to announce that that his top lieutenants would repay thousands of pounds of questionable expenses. 

PM and Labour leader Gordon Brown and Cameron are competing to come up with ways to reform the expenses system to limit the damage to their parties in 4 June local and European elections, and in the bigger general election battle due within the next year. 

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