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Scam off it..this is no route to justice.

Byline: Brian Reade

BELIEVE me when I say that it hurts me more to write the following sentence than for you to read it.

I feel sorry for Hazel Blears. There, it's out. And I know what you're thinking. That I've lost it. That justice would have been done if those Salford constituents who slashed her car tyres and smashed the windscreen had flipped the Citroen onto its back. Then flipped it again. Then flipped a third time.

And you're not alone. As one local woman told a radio station: "People can't go pulling scams the way she did and expect to get away with it."

But people do though, don't they? Be honest, if every one of us who'd ever pulled a scam had their car wrecked in revenge, there would be fewer vehicles on our roads than in the days when men walked 10ft in front waving flags.

Stay with motors for a second, and ask how many of those celebrating Blears' terror only possess cars thanks to a Motability cheque, despite having fitter legs than Cheryl Cole? Ask yourself how many dole fiddlers, insurance blaggers, benefits scroungers, false compo claimers, tax evaders and non-payers of Child Support raised a glass over the woman's misery and yelled "the slippery little git had it coming".

I'm not going all Stephen Fry here and weeping for expense-fiddling MPs, or all Norman Tebbit and demanding we sterilise the feckless. I'm reminding you how many scams are getting pulled all around you. There are new examples by the day.

Take swine flu. It's estimated that hundreds, possibly thousands, have been phoning the helpline, trotting out their symptoms with a well-rehearsed cough, and being welcomed to the pandemic family.

Cue a week's summer holiday, plus a chance to get hold of some Tamiflu and flog it on eBay.

A report out this week claims that workers are finishing a day's graft, putting on rags, hitting the streets and begging. Leicester police say they cautioned 20 beggars in the past fortnight and none of them were homeless.

Remember during the footand-mouth crisis how some farmers were accused of deliberately infecting their flocks with the disease to get a big compo pay-out? Don't get me wrong, some scams are funny. Back in the 1990s every man I knew over 60 who'd done National Service claimed for deaf money, when most had only ever lost their hearing during the government examination or when it was their round.

My favourite came during last year's Capital of Culture celebrations in Liverpool, when a 50ft mechanical spider was unleashed on the streets. Only for one genius to phone work saying he couldn't risk going into the office because he was arachnophobic. The truth is, given the chance to pull a scam, many of us will. MPs are despised more than any other breed of conman because they brazenly shafted us. We loathe them for those shameless lies and blatant fiddles because they pretended to live better than us, up on the moral high ground.

And we've every right to vote them off that high ground. But no right to terrorise them off it.

Because people in glass houses shouldn't smash car windows.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 13, 2009
Words:533
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