by Stephen Tall on November 9, 2012

I’m deeply grateful to the Manchester Evening News and its reporter Deborah Linton for exposing Manchester MP John Leech’s shameless attempts to exploit the taxpayer by…

(brace yourselves for the shock)…

… offering coffee to staff working at his constituency office and members of the public visiting him.

With unbelievable extravagance, Mr Leech has splashed out on two £34.99 coffee makers from Aldi for his Didsbury office. As if that weren’t shameless enough, he also bought coffee beans to actually put into the actual coffee makers!

Then to top it all, he allows his staff and constituents to consume the coffee, even letting them add milk — milk which is, in a very real sense, squeezed from the udders of the hard-working, decent-minded silent majority in this country.

Yes, you read that right: the scoundrel is actually letting people — there’s no other way of putting this — DRINK OUR TAXES. The total bill that you and I are having to foot for such profligacy is £176.55.

So outrageous is this behaviour, it’s even prompted the reticent Taxpayers’ Alliance to speak out, rightly noting “MPs’ expenses are to cover the costs of their role not to keep them supplied with caffeine all year round.” Thank goodness they’re sticking up for what’s right and what matters to the British people.

I am scandalised.

I demand immediately that John Leech refer himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

And I further demand that Nick Clegg launch at least two independent public inquiries: one into the management of the coffee-making process in Didsbury; and a wider over-arching inquiry into the culture of beverages that seems to have percolated into his Didbsury office.

I for one won’t rest until we have got to the bottom of these dregs.

And I am at a total loss to understand the reaction of the readers of the Manchester Evening News, who — instead of the OUTRAGE we all must feel when confronted by MPs living the high life — have instead chosen to stick up for Mr Leech. Comments such as:

Is this really what the MEN classes as “news” these days? What a sorry state of affairs.

I would hardly call this unreasonable, 2 coffee machines from Aldi, seems reasonable to me!


For goodness sake MEN.

He’s gone and got a couple of cheap coffee machines and some coffee to go in them, to keep his staff and visitors happy. And his employers (us) have paid for it. Not in the least bit unreasonable. Which option would you have preferred – paying for it out of his own pocket or no drinks for staff and visitors?

I would suggest that very few people do the former, and if the latter came to pass the MEN would be the first writing a story about parched staff and visitors denied fluids by a cruel MP.

Would this story have anything to do with the fact that Mr Leech is a Lib Dem MP in a Lib Dem/Lab marginal and the MEN is owned by Trinity Mirror, the most unthinkingly pro-Labour media group in the UK?

Such comments only go to show how out of touch the public is with popular opinion. Thank goodness for journalists!

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.