You’ve got to admire Peter Robinson’s audacity. Sorry, strike that, start again. You’ve got to deplore Peter Robinson’s mendacity. After the DUP declared itself confident that it had nothing to fear when the Daily Telegraph investigation touched upon its expenses, the First Minister has defended £30,525 (thirty thousand five hundred and twenty five pounds only) claimed for food bills, submitted over a period of four years by he and his wife.
Peter claims that this equates to an average of about £73 per week. How did he arrive at this estimate? Three Thousand Versts has investigated, and can exclusively reveal that if one divides £30,525 by four (the number of years which the claims cover), then fifty two (the number of weeks in the year, for slower readers) and then further divides the resultant figure by two (for the number of Swish Robinsons in the House of Commons) one arrives at the princely sum of £73.38.
It’s good to know that Robbo went to such extravagant lengths to account for the lavish lifestyle he and his wife enjoy at Westminster, courtesy of the tax paying public! Now my girlfriend and I do not live in London, but we eat approximately £50 worth of food per week, between us. I’m sure we could feasibly allow an extra £25 for two people shopping in the nation’s capital. But remember that the pair scoffed a combined total of £144.23 per week.
Or they would have – had Parliament sat fifty two weeks per year for the last four years! And had they attended the House 100% of the time that the Commons was sitting! Actually the average number of days the Commons sits in one year is 155. Peter has attended 37.4% of divisions since 2005 with Iris clocking up 28.4%. Perhaps we should try the sums again. You can follow my workings on Excel, or on a calculator, should you feel so inclined.
£30,525 is the exact total which the Robinsons spent on food (close to the maximum of £400 per month, according to the Daily Telegraph). Let’s divide that by four to get the yearly total. Which gives us a mean per year of £7,631.25. Now, if we divide 155 days by 7 we get 22 weeks (or near as damn it). So to get a fair weekly total for Iris and Pete (had they attended 100% of Commons’ business) we should divide £7,631.25 by 22, which would work out at £346.88 per week (or £173.44 per hungry Robbo)!
If we take a more realistic approach and average out the Robinsons’ attendance at 32.9% we come to a figure of about 51 days attendance per Swish, per year. Dividing the yearly total by 51 we arrive at a sum of £149.63 per day …… or £1,047.42 per week. Which means that Peter and Iris munch their way through £523.71 of groceries, EACH, per week, when they are attending Westminster.
To apply a little perspective here, the average YEARLY UK food shop is in the region of £5,200.
All this on top of £571,939 which the Robinson family extract from the taxpayer in salaries.
Nothing to be ashamed of? Good value? Money used for the benefit of constituents?