Sir.–You invite comments on the interview with Rt Hon Maria Miller MP.
Mrs Miller has obviously learned one thing from her experience – how to give the same answer, regardless of the question!
I have written to Mrs Miller on several occasions, and found her responses to be speedy and helpful. She clearly takes her constituency and wider responsibilities very seriously.
As a senior civil servant, I worked with ministers in various administrations. What one noticed was the building of confidence as they became accustomed to the power – power that is often virtual (i.e. implicit in their authority) as well as real. The cruel might say that it borders on hubris at times.
I think it is a pity that Mrs Miller chose to sail close to the wind in her expenses claims – whether or not she was properly advised, one cannot say. But one also feels that the House of Commons would have been far more forgiving had she said “fair cop guv”, and apologised in a less perfunctory way.
As to her future role – the public, press, and her fellow MPs have long memories and her name is now inextricably linked with scandal. All a pity really, for a gain that can only be described as “a mess of potage”. –Dr Ian Harrison, Kestrel Road, Kempshott, Basingstoke.
I believe that any politician who makes a so-called mistake and over-claims on their expenses should be kicked out of politics altogether. After all, it is taxpayers’ money.
Let’s not forget that the original amount it was recommended she repay was £45,000, until a committee of MPs reduced it to £5,800.
This Government has made great play on tackling people who are getting too much benefit (quite rightly), but when it comes to themselves and their expenses, it seems to be a different story.
It is long past the time that MPs were forced to be more honest and truthful, and that is why we need a free press not tied to any political party. –Francis Henry, Roman Road, Basingstoke.
Sir.–Mrs Miller stated in one of her answers that she is not a typical Member of Parliament. Never was, never will be!
She then proceeded to answer your questions in a very typical MP way!
Evading questions she didn’t like; casting doubt on whether the 88 per cent of people in a Gazette poll who wanted her to resign were actually Basingstoke residents; saying she wants to “move on, not look backwards” and “focus on the future of Basingstoke”.
She claims one of her greatest achievements as Culture Secretary was pushing through same-sex marriage, despite huge opposition towards it and there being no mandate for it in the last Conservative manifesto.
On the other hand, she has, quite rightly, highlighted the local problem of the enormous amount of proposed housebuilding, without consideration of the infrastructure or consent of local people – but she declined to say that part of the problem is uncontrolled mass of immigration requiring housing.
This, after the Conservatives promising to reduce the number of immigrants to tens of thousands, which I believe was in the manifesto.
It has taken her since April to respond to a Gazette request for interview, and quite frankly, her answers in general have not satisfied me that she should have been selected again to fight the 2015 election.
A borough councillor maybe, but not an MP. –Gina Oxer, Cobbett Green, Basingstoke.
Sir.–So at last Mrs Miller breaks cover. The length of time she has kept a low profile, I think, indicates how toxic the Conservative Party believes she is.
However, with an election looming, she needs to raise her profile and give interviews.
So, with plenty of time for reflection, I wondered whether she would have any regrets? Could her ‘apology’ in the Commons have been handled better? Did she now realise how she had let her constituents down?
But there was none of that in her interview with The Gazette. What we got was typical MP speak, without actually answering the questions. No contrition, no remorse, business as usual.
Did she receive a copy of the questions to be asked before the interview. Her answers seemed too contrived to be ‘off the cuff’.
Next May, the people of Basingstoke get the chance to decide whether she is worthy of our votes to be our MP. I do not think she is. It is not just the abuse of taxpayers’ money. It is her arrogance in still believing she did nothing wrong. –David White, Coates Close, Basingstoke.
Sir.–Supporting residents or Conservative colleagues?
It was interesting, if not totally enlightening, to read the outcome of your long overdue interview with Maria Miller. Straightforward answers were notable by their absence, but the obfuscation said a lot.
I have just one further question which you may some day be able to ask, but if not, perhaps this letter will elicit a response.
If Maria has been working closely with the borough council for the last nine years, does she also take shared responsibility for the illegal and mega-expensive Manydown fiasco?
If not, at what point did she publicly show disquiet over the wrong-headed approach of the Conservative council administration which she was “supporting …to have the right sort of future for our town”?
Chineham and other areas are soon likely to be inundated with houses suffering massive infrastructural deficit, despite constant assurances that this would not be so. –Cllr Martin Biermann, Chineham ward, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.