A PHOTO-OP of the Labour leader and his wife standing in the sparsely furnished kitchen of their north London home gave Mail columnist Sarah Vine plenty to get her teeth into last week.
Under the headline “Why their kitchen tells you all you need to know about the mirthless Milibands”, she wrote that the room “looks as though they’ve only just managed to clear away the tumbleweed in time for the photo-shoot… Perhaps they’re both just so holier than thou that they no longer require any nourishment other than the knowledge of their own righteousness. You certainly wouldn’t want to have supper there.”
She did concede, however, that “there’s nothing wrong with having a modest kitchen. My own is ten years old… The hob has many knobs missing, the oven smokes and the lighting strips under the kitchen units have long since been abandoned for an old fat-splattered lampshade and an Ikea spotlight.”
A second second-home
You’d hardly guess from this that when her hubby, Michael Gove, was elected to the Commons they spent more than £7,000 in five months furnishing a London house – using the additional costs allowance for second homes to do so.
Among items claimed from public funds were a Loire table worth £750, a birdcage coffee table (£238.50) and birch Camargue dining chairs (£432). Other claims included a dishwasher (£454), an oven (£639, presumably with all its knobs intact), a fridge freezer (£702) and a Kenwood toaster (£19.99). They also billed taxpayers for four breakfast knives, eight coffee spoons and cake forks, worth £5.95 each.
A few months later, the Goves bought a house in his Surrey constituency which they then designated their second home instead of the London property, and used the allowance to kit that out as well. In fact, in each of the three financial years from 2005/06 until the expenses scandal blew up, they claimed almost the annual maximum, a sum that amounted to more than £66,000.
Taxpayer-funded Loire tables
In the same period, Ed Miliband, who used a small house in his constituency as his second home, submitted claims for rent, utilities, council tax and a TV licence that amounted to just a third of the Goves’ billed total.
And it shows, according to Vine. She concluded that the Milibands’ kitchen reflected the Britain that Red Ed wanted to create"bland, functional, humourless, cold and about as much fun to live in as a Communist era housing block in Minsk.” And all because he didn’t have the nerve to fill it with taxpayer-funded Loire tables and birch Camargue dining chairs while the going was good. Shome chutzpah, shurely?