Thursday, May 14, 2009


Who's Winning the Politics of Expenses Scandal? So far, Dave and the Telegraph

Speaker Martin could soon be waving goodbye rather than just 'hi'. He, more than anyone has expressed the 'we've done nothing wrong' attitude so prevalent in the Westminster village until the Telegraph's revelations electrified the nation. The Guardian editorial weighs in with a 'Time to go' piece of advice. It can only be a matter of time but he may get to survive until the next election depending on how the party struggle to urge the cleansing of the stables evolves I suspect also that Andrew Walker, head of the Parliamentary Fees Office, might have to pay with his job for being too easy going and overly respectful of elected members.

Elliot Morley's 'mistake' lay in carrying on receiving £800 a month for mortgage interest on his Scunthorpe house, when the mortgage had already been paid. He has repaid the money but I would think there is a prima facie case of something against the law there notwithstanding.

Ann Widdicombe has noted that the parties are engaged in a 'bidding war' to out 'tough' each other on how to respond. And it has to be said Cameron has been winning this hands down. Brown, as always, has been disastrously leaden footed in his responses and has allowed Dave to dance around him with specific plans and to play the sweeping, unanswerable trump card of the 'payback' cheques for his offenders. Though I note it's in some cases the tabloid headline horse manure or lightbulbs sums which are being repaid while the tidy little profits from 'flipping' are nestling, secure, for the time being in the bank accounts of the MPs concerned.

There can be no doubt newspaper which has scooped their rivals bigtime on this is the Daily Telegraph. While the rest of Fleet St hesitated, they plunged in, bought the probably stolen material and have been on trebles all around ever since. I noticed a brilliant little feature they have added to their coverage: videos showing MPs apologising or otherwise commenting or explaining their views on the expenses issue. Top form stuff.

You've read this right for me. I have no doubt the Tory MPs have behaved just as disgracefully as the Labour ones. But Dave seems more outraged, and to his credit(and I don't often say that) is prepared to put noses out of joint and insist that these monies are repaid. Brown's hesitancy is becoming the recurring theme of his premiership, and again it is costing him. Cameron is a politician for our age. Brown would have been good any time before the 1930s.
Great post Skipper. The way things have been going, it's almost as though the Fees Office have been ordered to act as MPs' accountants - claim this on expenses, claim that back against tax, put the other through this loophole. The difference is, of course, that this seems to be designed to maximise the take rather than to minimise the loss.

Let's hope the Speaker does the decent thing and resigns before he does any more damage to Parliament's reputation.
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