Cllr David Taylor is a councillor in Havering. He is also an accredited PR practitioner, with a focus on the charity and social housing sector.

This week, Labour has tried to score a political ‘slam dunk’ by releasing what they are calling ‘The GPC Files’. These ‘files’ are a highly flawed report of the use of government procurement cards – a fancy term for a corporate card used by Whitehall.

The Labour Party, and Angela Rayner, are right to highlight wasteful government spending. But their solution is far from what we need, and their moral grandstanding is very foolish.

What is the problem?

Thatcher summed it up perfectly when she said:

“There is no such thing as government money, there is only taxpayer’s money”.

This phrase, so often banded around by Conservatives on all sides, succinctly tells us that we must be careful about how we spend.

Right at the heart of conservatism is the belief in low taxes and efficient spending. We watch the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves.

This hasn’t been happening, and I’m not just talking about the Foreign Office hiring a bright-pink photo booth.

Too many politicians, on all sides and at all levels, are treating taxpayers’ wallets as their own. Mobile phone contracts costing more than £100 a month. Rayner claiming over £200 for personalised Apple Airpods. Hotel bills for rooms in the same town as your home. It’s all a bit ridiculous.

It’s also insulting. It’s insulting to the public and it’s insulting to those politicians who do treat the public purse with respect. We all get tarred with the same brush.

A lot of our Conservative colleagues have forgotten what it means to be a Conservative. Over a decade in power has led many to become lazy about due diligence and taking their roles for granted. By doing so, we’ve given the Labour party the power to throw mud that sticks.

It will cost us dearly at the forthcoming elections.

What is the solution? As C.S Lewis said:

“You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society. That is why we must go on to think of the second thing: of morality inside the individual.”  

Labour is proposing a new Office for Value For Money. Yet another quango, no doubt hiring yet more civil servants, to add more processes. Instead of slimming down they are fattening up. I’ve no doubt that such an office would rapidly become politicised.

As C.S Lewis states, this won’t solve the problem. New rules are not going to change the mindset of those who think claiming personalised airpods is morally acceptable. These people will simply find a new way to game the system. We see it with taxes, the more we tighten the more effort people make to evade.

A tree is known by its fruit. If that fruit is corruption, extravagance at the expense of taxpayers, disdain for scrutiny, or a belief in the divine right to be elected, then that tree needs cutting down. It doesn’t need to be tinkered with.

But these trees will not fell themselves. They must be rooted out by a new generation of politicians who champion integrity and transparency. Conservatives who believe in serving the public, not being served by them. We, as a party, must discourage those whose aspirations stem from the wrong place and promote those who show servanthood alongside leadership.


I believe we encourage transparency like never before.

Imagine a system where every Conservative MP is asked to publish their payslip, tax code and all, on their website? Constituents would be able to see, to the penny, what is taken home. The tax code would reveal any second jobs and this would show the public that we mean it when we say we want to be open.

Imagine too a system where every Whitehall receipt, from these procurement cards, is scanned in and placed online for the public to see. What if every sponsored trip abroad, taken by an MP, had to be accompanied by an 800-word report on why they went and what was achieved?

Imagine how the public would react if they could drop onto an MP’s website and see every expenses receipt they submitted.

Yes, much of this can be found through IPSA or FOIs. But true transparency comes from making everything easily accessible and understandable.

If you are an MP, who is reading this and thinks publishing your receipts is a bad idea, ask yourself what you are hiding. What are you afraid of?

Conservatives can lead in creating politics that is unattractive to those who exploit.

When I was elected, as a Romford councillor in May last year, I started publishing every payslip I receive. Every month I am questioned about it, by residents. I give my electorate the information they need to ask me difficult questions.

I’d hope others join me in doing the same.

As William Wilberforce declared:

“My walk is a public one. My business is in the world, and I must mix in the assemblies of men or quit the post.”

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