It seems that David Tredinnick, the Bosworth MP best known for his part in the cash for questions scandal, has possibly outdone the moats and the duck houses in the ridiculous expenses claims stakes. He has claimed for software and training to make him proficient in...astrology.
Yes, astrology: the hocus pocus study of the stars to divine truth about personalities and destinies. As used by such other luminaries as Mystic Meg, Shelly von Strunckel and Nostradamus. One thing those three astrologers have going for them, of course, is that their star reading activities have only been funded by willing customers or (in the case of the latter) enthusiastic aristocrats who enjoyed having a barmy soothsayer about the place as a novelty. Mr Tredinnick, though, has charged it to the taxpayer.
His expenses claims feature bills for £210 for astrology software from Crucial Astro Tools, and then for £300 worth of tuition in how to use the aforementioned software. In his defence, he claims he had to learn astrology so he could assess whether Indian Ayurvedic Medicine relates to traditional English Herbal remedies because of his political interest in alternative therapies.
This is absurd. Leaving aside the utterly dubious nature of the idea that you can predict anything from the stars, still less that we should use their relationship to plants in the NHS, it simply is not necessary for an MP to train themselves up in a pet subject like this and expect taxpayers to foot the bill. If needs be, consult experts and critics on an issue you have been asked to comment on, don't take a professional course in it and bill the public. By comparison, while he has been busy tracking the predictions of heavenly bodies, he has apparently not bothered to set up a website to communicate with his constituents.
Here's an idea - you paid for Mr Tredinnick to become an astrologer, why not get your money's worth and email him your date of birth so he can do you a horoscope? He can be contacted here: firstname.lastname@example.org