In a new low-handed tactic, the coalition government has ‘stolen’ £520,000 a spinster left as a legacy and divided it between themselves as a party donation.
Joan Edwards, who had a long career as a nurse, died last year aged 90 and amassed her savings by living a frugal lifestyle and investments. When she made her will in 2001, Miss Edwards stipulated that her entire estate would go to ‘whichever Government is in office at the date of my death for the Government in their absolute discretion to use as they may think fit’.
The solicitors acting for Miss Edwards estate contacted the Government’s Treasury Solicitors department to find out where to send the proceeds. According to sources in the Labour and Liberal Democrats parties contacted by the Daily Mail, the Treasury Solicitors and the Attorney General (Dominic Grieve – a Conservative MP) decided that the money was a ‘party political donation’.
The ‘donation’ was discovered when the Electoral Commission issued its quarterly report on funding received by political parties. When journalists asked their press contacts in both the Conservative and Liberal Democrats parties about the ‘donation’, they said that Miss Edwards had made a bequest to each party in government’.
Their lies were discovered when the Daily Mail obtained a copy of Miss Edwards will.
Instead of using the money for the public good, both parties divided it between themselves based on the number of MPs and ministers, with the Conservatives taking £420,000.
Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told the Daily Mail “I am surprised they were so desperate that they took the money in the first place,” and added ‘I am surprised that a political party would want to take this money in circumstances when there is any doubt of the deceased person’s intention. If they are in any doubt, they should take legal advice and consider giving the money back to the estate.”
Miss Edwards was born in Bristol in 1921, had lived in the same house since 1931, and never married. She was a keen churchgoer and her nursing career included being a midwife and a school ‘nit nurse’.
Friends of Miss Edwards think that the last thing she would have wanted is for her legacy to be used by particular political parties for their own purposes. They described her as a very public spirited person who had delivered hundreds of babies during her career, and would have wanted the money spent on doing good for the less fortunate – not given to greedy politicians.
Miss Edwards’ next door neighbour, Lucy Sanders, told the Daily Mail “I would think she would have wanted the Government to do something good with her money, something to do with looking after children like she did”
Labour MP Paul Flynn said “It certainly sounds that this was a generous gesture for the benefit of nation, and doesn’t look like she intended it for party political purposes. To suggest it should go to the party coffers of parties in power seems a perverse judgment.”
When people leave a bequest to the government it is usual for the money to go to HM Treasury. Bequests to political parties are usually specified in a clause in the person’s will.
There are calls for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to repay the money immediately as their spin doctors struggle to explain how it was decided that Miss Edwards’ bequest was considered a political donation in the first place.
It is an absolute disgrace that a woman who has dedicated her life to helping others and leaving (as she perhaps thought) a donation that would help other people is treated in such a disrespectful way after her death by greedy, money-grabbing politicians.
Both parties should be forced to return the money to the executors with interest, and a financial penalty for their dishonesty. The executors could then ensure that the money is donated to the right department within the civil service – bypassing any involvement of political parties – where it will do the good Miss Edwards intended.
This disgraceful misuse of power really sums up the attitude of the current government to citizens of the nation. They care nothing for anyone or anything except their own financial interests. They are as low on the scale of humanity as it is possible to get, and should be treated as such by the rest of the population who have conscience and perception of decency.