Eric Pickles goes ballistic on Question Time. Clip here. Transcript below from The Telegraph's Three Line Whip. It is hilarious and Pickles certainly demonstrates the art of sanctimonious pomposity. He doesn't seem to realise how weak and pathetic his defence seems from the point of view of ordinary members of the public.
David Dimbleby began by asking Mr Pickles if he claims for a second home:
EP: "I do indeed have a two house system and an allowance. But if I could just make a brief contribution
DD; "How far away from Westminster are you?"
EP: "Thirty seven miles."[Boos from the audience]
EP: "And if I could just make this brief contribution to hang an MP week -"
DD: "Take your time! Take your time!"
EP: "OK, then let me explain why. And I have actually had experience of commuting that distance, when my wife was ill (she's fully recovered now) - but for a month I did it. And it was an extremely difficult experience and I'll explain why. Because the House of Commons works on clockwork: you have to be there, if you're on a committee, you have to be there precisely. Particularly for someone like me, I was a number two -"[Boos from the audience]
EP: "Let me explain, let me explain, please just let me explain for a moment. I had to be there -"DD: "Like a job, in other words?"[applause and laughter from audience]
EP: "Yes exactly like a job. If you're number two in the opposition, you're essentially running the committee. So I needed to be there at 930 to move those amendments. It doesn't matter if a Liberal Democrat isn't there, but it matters if I'm there -"
Ed Davey: "That's just cheap"
EP: "When I was doing this, I was leaving home at five thirty in the morning to guarantee that I was there and I wasn't getting back until twelve or one in the morning. Now you can do that once or twice, you can do that for a while. But you've got to understand, the House of Commons runs like clockwork."Caroline Lucas: "So does the rest of the world, Eric."
EP: "And I have never, ever claimed my full allowance. I have always claimed the amount -"[jeers from audience]
EP: "Well I mean, I publish them. I've always published them on my website. They've always been there for people to see. I have always been accountable. And I can tell you, I think the things are going to come out in a week's time. I think I've only claimed about sixty percent of the allowance, it might even be fifty five percent. But I'm a serious guy who will put in the hours. And I will work for those hours. But I can tell you this: it is no fun doing five thirty in the morning right the way through. You cannot be sat on a train thinking 'am I going to make it? Am I not going to make it?' That's why I do it."
Audience Member: "Do you think Fred Goodwin should give some of his pension back Eric?"
EP: "Yeah, I do."
Audience Member: "Right - that's because he's behaved immorally, unreasonably perhaps. But he's played within the rules! Don't you think that's a bit hypocritical?"
EP: "I had my flat - I bought my flat when we regularly sitting until two in the morning. I bought my flat when we did that. I bought that flat because it turned out -"
[Audience member: "sell it!"]EP: "OK well I'll sell it. Of course I could sell it. I am never going to be able to satisfy you folks, at all, because I am an MP and therefore guilty."