Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Derek Conway To Stand Down as MP

Derek Conway has just announced he will not be standing at the next election. Here's his statement...
I have had tremendous support from my local party, my family and friends
but have concluded that it is time to step down. I stand by what I have
said in relation to the report by the Commissioner of Standards and do not wish
to add to those comments at this time. Since joining the Conservative Party
nearly 40 years ago I have had the privilege of serving in public office since
1974 and have done so to the best of my ability.

I have advised the Chief Whip and the chairman of my local Conservative
Association that I shall not seek to continue as the Conservative Party
Candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup at the next election. Though not an
original supporter of David Cameron for the leadership of my party, I believe
that he has shown he has both the ability and the character to be Prime Minister
of our country and I do not wish my personal circumstances to be a distraction
in any way from the real issues that have to be addressed.

On a personal level I feel very sorry that it has come to this, but for the good of the Party Derek has done the right thing. Even those who feel he has let them down in other ways, will, I hope accept that.

The last forty hours have not shown the Conservative Party in its best light. The baying mob is something I hope not to see again for a very long time. Whatever Derek did or did not do he did not deserve some of the comments that have been thrown his way.

The original blogpost I wrote on Monday night on the subject has also drawn widespread criticism both here and elsewhere. I make no apology for it and I refute any charge of hypocrisy. Name me a friend of Peter Hain who publicly called for him to resign. Name me any friend of Wendy Alexander who called for her head. It's actually got nothing to do with tribal party politics. It's all to do with basic human decency and how you define friendship. I would not expect Peter Hain's friends to call for his resignation. Some of the people who reckon I should have publicly slagged Derek off should look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves how they define friendship. Does it include running from their friends at the first whiff of grapeshot? If so, they're not the kind of friends I would want.

129 comments:

HF said...

The baying mob could have been avoided if Conway had had the sense to have announced all this when the report came out. He would have seen the report before it came out so had enough time to prepare his reaction.

He has an arrogant streak that brought the baying mob of the media on top of himself.

Thankfully he came to his senses and it will now stop.

Charlie Root said...

I don't think it's so much about you not calling for your friends head, I don't think many people would expect that from a real friend.

For me the allegation of hypocrisy relates to your support of the 'baying mob' when it involves other parties members but not your own, and to a point I understand that.

I don't know how close you are to Derek but no doubt him and his family isn't going through a good time right now and it's culminated with him giving up his job next time around. I hope you'll bare this in mind next time you are calling for heads and trumpeting other bloggers for their influence (Guido) in the future.

I've said it here more than once but the public (and I mean real public, not us politics/blog junkies) perception of politics in the UK has never been so low at the minute, a bit of compassion would go a long way.

Lakelander said...

So that's another 4 people out of work then?

However, your loyalty should be applauded.

Jim Jay said...

For me there is a difference between whatever faults Conway may have and Iain's refusal to betray a friend.

It probably isn't worth much, but in my opinion, Iain, I think this whole episode may have shown the Tory Party in a very bad light, but I personally respect the way you've handled the episode.

Andy said...

Considering what we were all told about David Davis, internal rifts and tribal loyalties, etc, this has all gone suspiciously smoothly.

I wonder if there is one final reward in store for Mr Conway, perhaps after a discreet interval has passed, in return for his co-operation in gracefully and swiftly falling on his sword.

Anonymous said...

Afraid i have to agree with hf, if he had gone immediately he would have done himself and the party a favour and avoided both the opprobrium and much of the attendant negative publicty.

canvas said...

Iain, sorry but you're wrong - Conway deserves all the negative comments coming his way. He was a very dishonest and greedy politician.

It's absolutely understandable why people have lost faith in politics - and why they no longer trust politicians.

If the general election were tomorrow - I honestly don't know who I would vote for. I imagine the LibDems would get many sympathy votes...

Anonymous said...

Now that's out of the way, when do nominations for the post of prospective parliamentary candidate for OB&S open?

Newmania said...

Don`t worry Iain there are 38 MP`s currently employing family members and you cannot possibly be a friend of every single crook amongst them.
Isn`t the answer to pay MPs properly , have a proper career structure and then maybe you just might get a HOP that looks like the country.

On £60,000 ....I `m shocked ..shocked ...that the expenses have been fiddled I mean who would have dreamt such a thing

We are not amused said...

Much as I dislike the policies that Hain and Alexander pursue, I do not think it fair to equate their circumstances to those of Conway. As far as I am aware, nobody has suggested that the former have been pocketing public money.

Paul Linford said...

The last time he found himself out of Parliament, Mr Conway became the national chairman of the Cats Protection League. I've always rather admired him for taking on such a cause, even if it hardly suited his rather hard-boiled public image.

Inamicus said...

If Conway is accepting he has done wrong, he should resign now and vacate the seat. And I'm sorry Iain, but you have no hesitation in dishing it out in relation to others, so why the special pleading in this case?

Unsworth said...

Iain,

I disagree with your views of the last tweny-four hours. Actually I think that it has been very instructive.

Compare these actions with those of the Government benches. How many Labour MPs would - within such a short period of time - indicate that they are to step down? When was the last time that a Labour MP had the whip withdrawn? When did Brown - or Blair - take similar action? When was the last time that a Labour MP voluntarily withdrew having been so publicly condemned? At least we have not been treated to the sight of an MP clinging on wretchedly like a demented limpet, as these NuLab Ministers so often do. So the man has some sense of dignity, if nothing else. For that he should be commended.

Now let's see whether those Labour MPs who are equally compromised - and let's not kid ourselves, there are quite a few - take the same course of action.

Matt Jones said...

I think it's the right choice that he has made. I never expected you to call for his head and as you rightly say, I'd never expect any of Peter Hain's friends to have done the same prior to his departure as minister.

Cassilis said...

I'm one of those who thought you got this wrong Iain but you're erecting a stawman here:

"Name me a friend of Peter Hain who publicly called for him to resign. Name me any friend of Wendy Alexander who called for her head."

Nobody, certainly not me, was asking you to 'call for Derek's head' - simply to comment on the story, his behaviour and how appropriate you thought it was. That's a reasonable expectation for your readers since you posted to exactly that effect on similar stories where the MP wasn't your friend. It isn't beyond your writing skills to draw this out while remaining true to the friendship and any sense of decency.

It's hard to maintain the position that it's "got nothing to do with tribal party politics" otherwise.

not impressed said...

Good riddance to Conway and his familial gang of trough-dwellers.

You claim kudos for sticking by a friend Iain, but take care, people are sometimes judged by their choice of friends and from all I've seen and read about Conway he certainly leaves a lot to be desired.

Blog reader said...

Iain,

I'd be bloody glad to have you in my corner.

Conway must answer for himself. You, however, have shown you are a gentleman and somebody to be trusted in a crisis.

(May I suggest you apply for Old Bexley & Sidcup? :) )

Newmania said...

Iain's refusal to betray a friend.


I don`t get this ,what difference does it make ? Iain , can you answer a straight question? Would you have kept his secret if
1 You were certain it would not be noticed
2 Your economy of volunteered information might rebound on you
3 A juicy seat were offered in return for his head ...like perhaps his ...? Yummy.


Thats the way rumours start isn`t it ...

Henry Rogers said...

Iain,

No decent person could possibly object to the stance you have taken over Conway.

The baying mob largely consisted of Tories who were and are furious that behaviour which was stupid and selfish, at the very least, by one of our MPs should bring our party into disrepute.

verity said...

Is he going to return the money he took to the taxpayers? That's a lot of work hours he has taken from people.

Iain Dale said...

Cassilis, sorry, but please name me any Labour friend of Peter Hain who criticised him publicly in any way whatsoever.

Newmania, your post says more about you than it does about me. How very sad.

Garry said...

"The baying mob is something I hope not to see again for a very long time."

If you genuinely want to understand why you're being called a hypocrite, that's the sentence you need to think about.

Your readers are well aware of your enthusiasm for the braying mob when your political opponents are on the receiving end. In fact, you and "Guido" are often to be found inciting such a mob (sometimes based on the most ludicrous nonsense - remember when you claimed that 4:3 format was a vast left wing conspiracy?).

If you hadn't exploited the braying mob for political advantage yourself, maybe people wouldn't be so quick to point out the hypocrisy.

liberal majority said...

Iain

You got this one spot on.

No one condems their friends in public. It's as simple as that.

Being a self-confessed Tory Blogger of course you knew this would be controversial but nevertheless published all the comments. The right editorial policy in my view.

I'm a Lib Dem but I read your blog for the same reasons I take the Daily Telegraph - because it's well written and challenges my own orthodoxy. I'd read a labour blog if I could find one that was a) written well and b) had some level of objectivity (any recomendations).

I shall be reading your blog more often in the future. You've come out of the Conway episode with an enhanced reputation in my view (for a Tory).

Newmania said...

Oh by the way Hugh Muirs Diary has a splendid letter written by Conman to his constituent about why the public purse could not support his children`s education
",... a burden I am not prepared to supprt..." he ends with magnificent aplomb.

Iain , will wag his finger but for anyone who is not his friend it f.... hilarious.

Patrick said...

I'm a Conservative. There isn't much I don't hate about ZanuLabour and what they have done and continue to do to Britain. Their absolutely crass indifference to how shitty the governing class has become towards spending other people's money is what upsets me the most.

Being a Conservative, I feel a genuine sense of hope that Cameron can get elected and start to cut out obscenely stupid and wasteful public programmes and enforce some moral decency in public life. The 'snouts in the trough' line touches an extremely raw nerve in hard pressed Britain today.

Conway's actions have enraged me because it both undermined my hope that a true Conservative would have some respect and moral guidance in his attitude towards other people's money and even more so because this shit makes the survival of our utterly corrupt and incompetent government that little bit more likely. He's a double scumbag in my books.

I don't know Conway personally and Iain does. It's right for Iain to step back and not join the likes of me pouring heartfelt vitriol all over him. I respect Iain for that.

But you're dead wrong when you say Conway didn't deserve the comments received. He deserved worse. I am one of the baying mob precisely for the reasons outlined above. He should now be hounded into repaying the £1.5m of other people's money he has defrauded us of.

Chestcracker said...

The trouble is iain, by not publicly acknowledging that what he did is wrong, you have condoned his actions which were wrong friend or no friend. You are a nationally recognised political blogger and it is your duty to say something on the matter. Not saying anything on the matter does not help anyone least of all yourself. When the winner/loser list is written for this week, i am afraid you will be on the loser list and David Cameron, who i suspect would can't beleive his luck, will be on the winner list. a couple of days of bad publicity is an acceptable price to pay for the Cameronisation project.

Anonymous said...

All I can say Iain is that you must be a saint. This reprehensible man systematically, coldly, calmly and calculatedly stole money from me and you, his friend. If I were in your shoes he would be an ex-friend.

Cassilis said...

'Labour friend who criticised Hain publically in any way whatsoever'?

Try Gordon Brown here - "took his eye of the ball", "an incompetence"...? Most Labour MP's took a similar line as did many bloggers.

Granted it's mild and not a scathing attack but nobody's asking you to 'join the baying throngs' and tear Derek apart either - simply acknowledge the errors and the damage they've done.

Iain Dale said...

Chestcracker, again, that post says more about your values than it does about mine.

A duty to say something? Do I have a duty to comment on absolutely every political story there is? I'd be doing this full time!

Does it not go without saying that I would condemn any abuse of public money? You are raising a spurious "when did you stop beating your wife" issue. The fact that I don't comment on something or condemn it doesn't imply that I approve of it. Please don;t be that simplistic. As I said, all I have to say I will say to a friend to his face and not behind the refuge of a computer screen.

apologies to oscar said...

Conway, Currie, Hamilton: to have one such friend may be regarded as a misfortune; to have three - to date - begins to look like carelessness.

Daily Referendum said...

Cassilis,

A man who sh*ts on one friend, soon finds that he has none. No matter what Iain could have said on the subject, his words would have been twisted. If Conway was my friend I would call him a bloody fool in private. I certainly would not add to his troubles by having a friend do it in public. What Conway has been accused of is very serious. I would have re-evaluate our friendship, but out of respect for that friendship I would not stick the boot in while he was on the ground. It's just not done.

drink-soaked popinjay said...

Does it not go without saying that I would condemn any abuse of public money?

No. It does not. Here was a case of such an abuse that you did not condemn.

You say you did not do so as Twitty was a mate of yours.

This is nonsense.

You did not do so because he was a Tory and, especially, a colleague of David Davis.

You have shown yourself to be both a liar and a hypocrite.

That is why you have been condemned by many of your readers.

Perry Neeham said...

I don't understand you at all Iain. You're clearly a bright guy but you don't get it.

If somebody has done something seriously wrong (and perhaps thats the key issue, the seriousness) the fact that you are that persons 'friend' should not stop you from pointing it out.

Conway has effectively defrauded the taxpayer by a substantial amount. He has ballsed up much of the potential political mileage to be made out of the Hain scandal. He has given the man in the street a negative impression of all MPs.

Hats off to call-me-dave for doing the right thing quite quickly and hats off to Conway for falling on his sword. Don't tell me they have bigger balls than yours?

Unsworth said...

@ Garry

"In fact, you and "Guido" are often to be found inciting such a mob"

Maybe you are so easily incited, others are not. Do you seriously think that those posting and/or reading here are so weak? Perhaps you do...

Blog reader said...

Exactly.

At no time whatever did Iain condone the misuse of public funds.

Also, at no time did he say he did not condemn his friend's actions.

Rather, he very honourably said that he would address his friend Mr. Conway to his face on the matter and not in a blog post.

That does NOT equate to condoning him over this.

Alisdair.gray said...

Pathetic, truly pathetic. The man has committed what might be considered as fraud, and you attempt to make a virtue out of your supposed loyalty. Yet you are only too happy to condemn others, particularly those at the sharper end of society, whose crimes are far less damaging than the £1.5m Conway has fleeced.

Your stock is definitely in sell mode.

Geoffers said...

"Does it not go without saying that I would condemn any abuse of public money?"

No, it does not go without saying. Not in the current climate. Not when politicos in all manner of institutions are so blatantly corrupt in one way or another. From Prescott's cowboy outfit to Irvine's wallpaper to Livingstone's cronies to Archer's paper bag to Hain to Conway to the routine maladministration uncovered in almost any council with an investigative blogger making a nuisance of themselves.

Sorry Iain, but I believe that these things need to be said, now more than ever. And in your role as a leading political blogger, I would hope your voice would be louder than most.

You have not lost any of my respect; I understand your dilemma and can only admire the loyalty to your friend despite the price you're paying for it. However, I think that you're wrong and you should have spoken out.

Londoner said...

Iain
I think most people who commented on this blog accepted that you didn't need to comment, and many praised your stance.

But, as one who commented on here and called for him to announce a.s.a.p. that he will stand down at the next election, I do think you are wrong to describe the reaction as a "baying mob". I said it was the most shocking action of any Tory MP for over 40 years and I meant it. I have only read your blog's and ConHome's blog's comments but, if it is those you are are referring to, I think what there was was just a very strong, almost unanimous, plea from Party supporters that it was beyond the pale and that he would have to go. That was not "baying for blood" - it was trying to use what little influence we have to make the leadership realise that the initial reaction was too slight.

To the extent that that might have influenced Cameron's rethink - well, that was very healthy and it should be chalked up as a notable success for the bolosphere if we helped him to come to that decision.

McSweeney said...

On the Conway v Hain deathmatch: maybe people get more annoyed at the flagrant mis-use of public money than they do at the questionable receipt of private funds?
Conway deserves everything he got, although I'll admit he's been unlucky to be the first pig-in-the-trough to be actually skewered when similar things are probably practiced by many.

Londoner said...

That was meant to be "blogoshere" in the penultimate line of my last posting just now, in case anyone thought it was bollocksphere. I think my keyboard must have revolted against a word that probably isn't yet in respectable dictionaries.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can tell us which comments thrown his way have been undeserved?

ChrisC said...

Iain you deserve credit for your loyalty.

But Conway *does* deserve all the comments thrown at him...and more.

How much will he be paying back?

verity said...

To all you self-righteous, preachy twerps who think you are on some sort of editorial panel for this blog, the blog belongs to Iain Dale. He is not obliged in any way to follow your editorial direction or even pay heed to it. He writes what he writes at his own discretion and his own volition, not yours.

This isn't a group blog or a class project. Settle down.

Now, à nos moutons: Conway said, "I have had tremendous support from my local party, my family and friends...".

Well, I don't know about his local party and his friends, but his family has excellent reason to be grateful and I am sure would "support" him in future endeavours, should he ever get the chance again.

Cam4me said...

Some very, very disappointing comments on this post.

Did Derek Conway make a mistake? Yes. Was it silly? Yes. Did he have to stand down as an MP? No. Did he make the right decision today? Unfortunately, given the actions and continual harassment of an unholy alliance of the Labour-supporting BBC and newspaper - delighted as they were to be able to return to 'Tory' sleaze and take the heat off Labour - and so-called 'Conservatives' self-flagellating, Conway was left with no choice. He did a decent thing, took the decision that was best for his party and emerges from all this with a lot more credit than those commenting on this post who unbelievably some themselves Conservatives.

Couple of thoughts emanating from this whole affair:

One, while I support Cameron wholeheartedly, he has shown weakness. By forcing Conway out, he has let the BBC and Labour-suporting press know that, given enough pressure, he will sacrifice an MP on their whims. This could have been ridden out; now the Labour media know what his reaction will be next time around (especially if enough Conservatives join in, like this time).

Two: Yes, Conway was foolish. But what he didn't was hardly in the same league as the wanton and brazen abuse of office by the likes of Hain, Alexander and Johnson. The difference is Conway now looks ahead to unemployment while, unbelievably, Alan Johnson is still a senior Cabinet member. Think about that.

Weygand said...

You still don't get it.

What you should have done is say how much you have always liked and admired Conway and been pleased to have had been, and indeed remain, a friend of his.

You should have added that nevertheless the findings of the Standards and Privileges Committee left him and the Conservative Party in a difficult position and that both needed to consider the matter carefully as a matter of urgency.

You didn't need to belittle him or call for his head. But abdicating comment when that is what your site is all about makes you look ridiculous.

Do you wish to your views to be discounted on principle like Mad Dog Maguire - people closing their ears because they know everything is filtered through a personal agenda?

If DC had followed your lead, it would have been the beginning of the end for him too.

And when did you start taking the lead on proper behaviour from supporters of Peter Hain?

Anonymous said...

Butter - Mouth - Melt......

Anonymous said...

Whether or not you are a hypocrite has nothing to do with what friends of Peter Hain etc. said - it has to do with what you said.

I don't think that you were particularly nice to Lord Puttnam when he stood up for Ruth Turner - but perhaps hypocrisy is too strong a word.

strapworld said...

Iain,

I will say again a friend tells it straight! Not just 'stick up for him'

He did wrong. His apology - if you read Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail you may understand where I stand -was not heartfelt.

Cameron did the right thing and now Conway has done the right thing.

Iain, when my father was a conservative party agent in the 50's and 60's people fell on their sword. This episode has shown that the Conservative Party has re-discovered that.

Now let us see the party follow the USA and bring in a law preventing nepotism within Parliament, indeed within ALL public services. (The BBC would probably be a better place without the same family connections!)

You obviously feel aggrieved. I am sorry but in this particular case I believe you were wrong.
sorry.

Anonymous said...

Iain,

You were right to stick by your friend.

However your comments were nothing to do with your friend but entirely about yourself and how good a friend you are. You turned the 'support' into something more self-righteous.

Also, the tone of your comment was such that it led people to believe that you thought no reasonable person could possibly want him to resign. Just because you are a friend of his doesn't mean you couldn't have taken the view that: "I know Derek Conway and, being the moral person he is, I know he will seriously be considering his position". There are intermediate positions that you could have taken. If he is as good a friend as you say he is, then he will have understood your stance. Real friends support one another. They also know how to take criticism from one another. In a sense you undermine him by suggesting he is unable to take such criticism.

You are going to have to accept that Derek Conway did a very naughty thing. No-one can support what he did. He undermined the Opposition. He undermined people's trust in politics. You have lacked judgment in your handling of this.

Nevertheless I continue to support your efforts on this blog, and I generally agree with you. Best,

Another Anonymong

tapestry said...

Conway's words to the house that no one could ever be a harsher judge of his actions than he himself now make sense.

By tendering his resignation at the next election, he wins back a lot of the respect he deserves.

DiscoveredJoys said...

Patrick (4:08) captured my feelings extremely well.

Iain, your friendship for Conway is a noble thing, and I can see why you might refrain from calling for particular penalties. However, unless you can convincingly argue that he is the victim of a conspiracy, people expect you as a political blogger to acknowledge his admitted guilt. You don't need to embroider it or dwell on it, but to acknowledge friendship without acknowledging the events - well this just makes you appear to be part of the 'political curruption' problem, rather than aligning yourself with the solution.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Dear Iain,

The "baying mob" just want their money back - from a theiving bastard who won the priviledge of membership of the Mother of Parliaments and used his position to send his children to Harrow and University, with enough on the side to fund "F**k off, I'm Rich" parties.

Derek Conway is not Oscar Wilde or the Hamiltons, he is not and was never going to be a cause celebre. Your strange attempt at supporting him at the outset has backfired and you are compounding it by trying to maintain an untenable position.

We, the people, elect MPs to represent us. We often expect too much of them in their personal lives, though we can turn a blind eye to coprophilia,drug use and the odd lucrative directorship, so I think "baying mob" is hardly fair.

Say what you want but your position as one of the coutry's top bloggers has been weakened by this shabby affair and your response. I might add that I believe you have integrity and a strong sense of right and wrong but your loyalty to Conway should have remained private.

Rush-is-Right said...

A few general points.

Iain, your attitude is commendable. I take as read what you say about your friendship with Conway and if you feel that prevents you from sticking the boot in then that's fair enough for me.

All this mention though of Peter Hain's 'friends' and what they are saying and so on... well it's just risible. With 10p and a phone book you could ring every one of them and ask.

Finally, Conway has almost done the right thing. He won't stand again. What he should really have done is take the hundreds. And shown thereby some real contrition, some real awareness, and shown those sleaze-bags in the Labour party the meaning of the word honourable.

Womble On Tour said...

Cam4me said...
Conway's action...."was hardly in the same league as the wanton and brazen abuse of office by the likes of Hain, Alexander and Johnson".

You have to be joking. What those three did arguably increased their chance of being elected in an internal party election. What Conway did was to use taxpayers' money to improve his own family's wealth.

In one way you're right. Conway's not int he same league. He's in a higher one (and I don't mean in a moral sense).

jailhouselawyer said...

I feel that my comment would be too long to submit here, therefore I have provided the necessary link.

Truth and lies and friendship

judith said...

Cam4me - Conway wasn't foolish.

'Foolish' is having a few mad moments of middle-aged extra-marital passion.
'Foolish' is cracking an offensive joke, once. 'Foolish' is forgetting to note 2 free Opera House tickets on the Members' Register.

Conway has, for many years, systematically and obviously fleeced the public purse, and that is 'crooked'.

Iain - you are of course within your rights to refuse to publicly condemn your friend, and to withhold whatever you wish on your blog.

But I was one of the 'baying mob', and I don't regret it. I was sickened and irate that, like so many, I have worked so hard - free, gratis and for nothing - for the Conservative Party for 20 yrs, only to have that work so heavily undermined by one person's greed.

The one decent thing is that Mr Conway has agreed to stand down at the next election.

Danvers said...

Iain

I really don't care whether you blog about your mates or not and you are not the official spokesman for the Conservative Party, so you are under no obligation to do so.

However, as a prominent blogger several times a day you share your thoughts with the world on a whole range of subjects - personal, political and sometimes football related. Thus, it is hardly surprising that some people expect you to share your thoughts when your friends are in the news.

To use a football analogy it is difficult simultaneously to be a player and a commentator and it is inevitable that you might get criticised from time to time for the compromises you make. I hope you do not have to choose too soon as I enjoy reading your blog.

HF said...

Just to put some perspective on this, since 1989, 5 of the 7 Conservative MPs to have been suspended from HoC then stood down or were deselected at the next GE.

None of the 8 Labour MPs were!

Different standards, I guess?

http://tinyurl.com/3acltx

Anonymous said...

Iain,

Would you have stood by him regardless of what he did? I mean, what if the allegation was murder or paedophilia? This is a genuine question. It's not meant to 'trap' you or put you in a bad light - just curious.

Anonymous said...

I bet the Cats' Protection League are going through their books with a fine (flea) comb! Meow!

Anonymous said...

You've more chance of becoming CE of the cats league than getting Bexley and Sidcup

Anonymous said...

Conway deserved all the comments he got. Corruption is corruption - all he had to do was show some evidence of the "work" the son supposedly did. He couldn't even produce one snippet.

Any other occupation and that would mean jail.

Anonymous said...

Iain-up until this Conway biz, I had always read your blog and considered you to be a fair minded individual.

However, your blogging re this affair has pulled the rug from under me!

This man has carried out actions which, if you or I were accused of and found guilty, our careers would be in ruins, we would most likely be bankrupted and our marriages may be placed in jeopardy!

My question is simply-why do we have one law for politicians, and another for the rest of us?

Answers on a postcard please...

Garry said...

@ unsworth

"Maybe you are so easily incited, others are not. Do you seriously think that those posting and/or reading here are so weak? Perhaps you do..."

Heh. I like your style.

We could launch into a long discussion about human nature and the extent to which we are all suggestible - I could bring up the millions of pounds spent on advertising every year, you could say that that's about providing information to the market, I could respond by asking why the market needs to use so many attractive women to provide this information... - but it'd be irrelevant to the central point and off-topic to boot.

The central point is one of consistency or lack thereof. The other day, Iain wrote that: "Politicians of all colours need to realise that they are held in lower public esteem than ever before and they need to react accordingly - not by arguing for higher salaries or allowances, but by addressing the failings of a political system which is becoming unfit for purpose - and by improving their own personal standards of behaviour."

Here he is a few days later suggesting that Conway, who misused his allowances to benefit his family, was the victim of a "baying mob".

Wouldn't you say that's just a little bit hypocritical, unsworth?

Anonymous said...

You really have lost the rear end....A real friend would look somebody in the eye and tell them that your are sorry, but they had gone too far, damaged the conservatives, and damaged politics in general. A real friend would be honest about the wider effects of what they had done.
A friend right or wrong looks a lot like the attitude of minorities that helped end stop and search in the 1980s...'I don't care is he is a criminal, he's one of my own and shouldn't be punished.'
Very unimpressive.

Guido has the measure of the new Conservative party. If you are on the moral high ground, the opposition is stuffed completely.

Glyn H said...

Mr Conway should immediately resign his seat. He has been caught perpetrating a fraud, and a substantial one, on the taxpayer. And what is more it shows the party in a poor light; it did not act as soon as this was known and that Mr Conway has taken until this afternoon to annouce his - to be dragged out all to long - departure. I acknowledge your loyalty but this man has been shown to be dishonourable and deceitful, and lacking in judgement. He should go: NOW. But do apply for the seat; you deserve you place in the house, there are many less worthy there than you.

permanentexpat said...

My sympathy, Iain. I too have had 'friends' who turned out to be crooks. On discovering that, I knew that my friendship had been betrayed and that, for what it was worth, they were undeserving of it. Mr.Conway, it would appear, has stolen y/our money (more than once) for his own benefit. Much as I admire loyalty, to continue it in the face of downright betrayal borders, regrettably, on (kindly) naiveté.

Troll Patrol said...

Iain, I think the professional commentariat misread the visceral anger of the electorate on this issue initially. It is not just another managerial balls-up or someone getting caught doing stuff "everyone" does. It really annoys me that this guy funded his kids education in the way he did. I am sure I am not the only one here who worked every summer vac at college in factories and refineries (it was the early 80s, they still existed) and other crap jobs. My own father was head of a government department but neither he nor I would have considered for a second that he might arrange a cushy job in his department. I remember 16 hours shifts getting burnt by molten metal while at the same stage of life his kids were largin' it up in Chelsea. The closest they probably came to getting burnt was being charged £16for a cocktail at Mahiki. Paid for by you and me! I want our money back.

Gman said...

Could this have being handled any better?
The MP was caught doing something naughty, the whip was removed, and the MP will not seek re-election.

That's a bit of a result Compare and contrast....

Paul Burgin said...

Well I wouldn't call you a hypocrite Iain, but when Labour members stand by those who are their friends or aquaintances, then one hopes you would show the same level of consideration. As for the baying mob, God alone knows that the side I'm on gets it from the Conservatives often enough. I try and moderate my comments for the simple reason I know how unpleasant it can be to be on the receiving end, although admittedly some see this as just revenge. Hopefully if any good is to come out of this, it will mean a change of attitudes amongst politicans and activists of all persuasions when dealing with such issues. A genuine desire to uncover the truth, simply dealing with the offender, and trying to improve things, rather than the nasty gloating that goes with such discoveries.

Troll Patrol said...

Peter Conway said
"I stand by what I have
said in relation to the report by the Commissioner of Standards"

Iain Dale said
"I make no apology for it and I refute any charge of hypocrisy"

So he is still lying and you are still "standin' by your man". A "patsy" in more ways than one.

You should direct your anger where it is deserved not at the loyal readers of your blog who are rightly incensed and frankly feeling a little betrayed by your misplaced loyalty. I will be the first to apologise if they find any evidence le fils sur la plage did any work for his 100 monkeys.

I don't think anyone has called your personal integrity into question, just your judgement in the last couple of days. Lay off the angry pills. Can't be good for your diabetes. Your personal conflict/insight into this situation is actually what the blogosphere, at its best, is all about.

dexey said...

I wonder how many other Conservative MP's use the same paymennts to family system as Conway?
Does he go, for a later reward, in the hope that things will quieten down.
I expect dishonesty from new labour, I had hoped for something better from the conservatives.
the whole stable needs a thorough cleaning.

jafo said...

Iain, as far as I can recall you merely said you were not going to comment because Conway was a friend of yours. You didn't say you supported him or thought he was right. I think that is perfectly reasonable and slagging off one's friends in public isn't acceptable conduct, in my book. What you may have said to him in private is a matter for you.

Like lots of us, I don't "know" you, but feel that I do as a regular reader of the blog - and I can't believe from that you would have ever suggested even in private to his face that you thought Derek Conway's conduct was anything other than WRONG.

If he was employed anywhere else, his conduct would be regarded as fraud and Police would have been called.

He has done the right thing now - and David Cameron was quite correct to do what he did.

verity said...

I maintain that Iain has a right to behave as he sees best on his own property.

However, re Conway, I agree with those who said he should have gone now. Apply for the Chiltern Hundreds, out of there, adios. What point in clinging on until the next election? I mean, what is the bloody point? He's been disgraced. He's been using taxpayer money, - every penny of which had to be worked for by people with jobs, who could have used the money themselves, I'm sure.

The British taxpayer has been financing his whole family. This is truly revolting and he should have to repay it all. Maybe his son and wife could do the unthinkable and get a real job to help pay it back.

Chris Goodman said...

cam4me

Derek Conway did not make a “mistake” he knew exactly what he was doing. His actions were not “silly” they were calculated.

If he were a Civil Servant he would be dismissed, as it is he will continue to draw a full salary until the next election, and needless to add will press his claim for the gold plated pension rights which Members of Parliament decided to award to themselves.

Conway did not do the decent thing; he arrogantly and selfishly refuses to accept that he has dishonoured his party, his colleagues, and his electors, and only gave up his seat when that option was effectively forced upon him.

He has not emerged from this affair with more credit than his colleagues have, he emerges from this affair with no credit whatsoever, and it was not wrong for Cameron to withdraw the party whip from him.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Iain,

I applaud your personal stance, Iain, but not this:

"Whatever Derek did or did not do he did not deserve some of the comments that have been thrown his way."

He was in a position of trust and he quite deliberately defrauded the taxpayer. What was it that people were saying about Hain? -- "No ifs, no buts", wasn't it? As far as I am concerned, he deserves precisely the same comments as any other thief would get from me: whether Labour, LibDem, Tory or ordinary citizen.

HF,

"The baying mob could have been avoided if Conway had had the sense to have announced all this when the report came out."

Of course, Conway wouldn't have needed to announce anything if he had not quite deliberately decided to steal money from the taxpayer.

It's quite simple.

DK

Anonymous said...

Ben Brogan, (on his blog) pointed out why more people will be offended by Conway, than have been by Labours funding propblems.

Those involved have not stolen, (fiddling less offensive)public money, Conway has.

It also has to be said, that one of the sons in particular, has used his father's theft of the taxpayers money, to lead a lifestyle which most people would find, lets be honest, debauched.

On seing young Freddie's photograph and learning of his behaviour, Paul Dacre's blood pressure probably soared to the north side of Pluto.

Mr Hain and the others may have broken the rules, if so they will deserve their punishment. Mr Conway, will continue to sit on his fat arse, at the taxpayers expense, Mr Plod unlikely to knock on his door.

Devil's Kitchen said...

P.S. I do mildly admire the way in which he has fallen on his sword though, making a thoroughly graceful speech. He gets Brownie points for that.

DK

Troll Patrol said...

Verity said
"The British taxpayer has been financing his whole family. This is truly revolting and he should have to repay it all. Maybe his son and wife could do the unthinkable and get a real job to help pay it back."

Never thought I would agree with t'V but guess there is a first time for everything. Give us back our money. Or donate £50k to a charidee of our choice.

Jess The Dog said...

No need to call for his head, but you should have passed him the Mess Webley and the bottle of whisky to do the right thing at the earliest opportunity.

verity said...

DK - He misappropriated money from people who get up and go to work. He doesn't get Brownie points for trying to soften his offence now he's realised he is hip deep in poo.

ranter said...

He is clearly an arrogant man. His actions were unacceptable, he should have gone sooner. He is a disgraace and he'll have to live with that the rest of his life. GOOD!

Bill Quango MP said...

Had a top notch accountant, Armenian fellow,clever as a French Bank, doing all the fiscals guff for me.

However Mrs BQ has spotted some oddities that need an explanation.

Seems Slippers the Cat has been my official residential security officer for 2 years now. { done a good job too nothing missing }

Mrs BQ has been office popsie which looks fine until one sees that she is also recorded as Mrs Mop , Driver , social networking secretary and cook.
Seems she is on some £59,200 PA
{ oh yes .. she is PA as well. Better make that £73,400 }

The boy, Chaucer, is down as IT expert, although it dosen't say what IT actually is.

I did give him £10,000 quid to set up my Web slide ..did it quite well too, for a simple soul. I think its called erm , hang on , yes . its
WWW.FORWARDSPLASH DOT MY BLOGGY WOG
DOT CON

Anyway , slightly miffed about all the 'baying mob' talk here , so am not going to be in Westminster for a few days until I can find Mr Wiseman and get it all, erm, put onto a more more erm discreet footing.

If anyone knows Ken Livingstones Book Man I would appreciate the number.

I tried 118118 'citadel of sleaze' but just got some gruff,upity, jock kiltwearer asking if i wanted to make a donation.

By the way , anyone see me on question time today? Near the back, Burgandy tie, next to the fellow with a head like a coal scuttle.

ranter said...

If anyone else did this, they'd be in an interview room, then a cell, then up before a magistrate - it is called theft!

Anonymous said...

Verity said ....
"What point in clinging on until the next election? I mean, what is the bloody point?"

The point is he can carry on drawing his handsome salary and astronomical expenses whilst not worrying unduly about his constituency work.

Verity said...

Troll Patrol - welcome to my fan club.

(Don't hyperventilate. Joke.)

£50,000 isn't enough. He seems to have misappropriated around £1m. He (or rather, the working man and woman) was also making contributions to Freddie's pension. A far-sighted family, to be sure.

javelin said...

Don't be so defensive.

barry monk said...

In or near Derek Conway's constituency, five violent thugs stole £53million that wasn't their's. They got their just deserts.

In the five year lifetime of a parliament, MPs "expenses" largely unaudited, run to about £53million OF OUR MONEY.

Many many claims are patently incredible.

Conway could do one useful last service by pulling the rug on his fellow cheats. Enough is enough

Anonymous said...

MASSIVE LIBDEM SLEAZE UNEARTHED:-

http://www.siol-nan-gaidheal.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4758

Anonymous said...

this is a very precarious position for many MPs . How many wives really do the work they are'employed' to do and if they do any work what is their income related to jo public doing similar work. 50K for writing a few dates in a diary?

klaxon said...

Iain, the braying mob?

Come on - he might be your old mucker, but the point is he was caught with his pants down after defrauding the taxpayer fornearly £100k, then redused to co-operate with the inquiry!

How in the name of common sense can you not simply say "he is my
friend, he always will be, but I cannot condone his actions, and am dissapointed by them".

It cannot be one rule for one and one for another. If he had a red rossette on him, you;d be all over him like a rash!

Ron Knee said...

NO IF'S, NO BUTS.

He MUST return the money to the taxpayer and suffer the same consequences as if he were an ordinary chap on the street caught trying to make his "dole money" extend a bit further by working for a few quid extra each week....

NO IF's, no buts. And that goes for every MP regardless of their party doing just the same thing.....

Innit? or is there REALLY one law for them and another for us?

NO "IFS, NO BUTS"

jd said...

God, there are some self-righteous egos mouthing off today! Yes, what Conway did was wrong and he got caught. Fine.

But he was just doing what a fair number of his colleagues across the House have been doing for years - siphoning money off to supplement their MPs income by claiming to have family working for them. It isn't news.. it's been public knowledge for years, and this crucifixion of one MP is absurd.

And as for "most shocking action of any Tory MP for 40 years"... twaddle. Ted Heath taking us into Europe probably takes that title, but to take just one recent example, do you really think that Conway's action were worse than committing perjury to swindle someone out of half a million pounds? (I hope dear Jeffrey isn't another of your friends Iain...)

Anonymous said...

Was it really £1.5m? A mistake anyone could make ....

Jon Worth said...

I agree very much with your last paragraph Iain. I just hope you will bear that sort of sentiment in mind before you get ready to stick the knife into others whose friends have suffered in politics.

Newmania said...

Oh I see I am in the doghouse , Sorry Iain ,I didn`t mean to be unpleasant. I meant to be funny ......ahem...its my curse.

Chris Paul said...

I think the attempt to suggest that Wendy Alexander and her team missing a non-permissible Channel Islander giving her campaign £950 is in any way equivalent to sliding £50,000 and counting to two sons with no visible work outputs so far could hardly be more far fetched Iain.

Sadly your friend may well belong in jail over this. It looks like a very serious fraud. And I don't think standing down for next time is anywhere near enough.

verity said...

It turns my stomach that he took this money not just off city bankers and upmarket real estate brokers, but people who get up at 4 a.m. to go and clean offices; people who work through the night as supermarket stackers and go home in the morning in icy cold; people working shifts in call centres; waitresses and waiters and people working in fast food outlets, and behind counters in department stores.

This is so awful it makes my skin crawl. (Not that misappropriating tax money that comes from the well-heeled is any better, but somehow someone in his position taking advantage of the weak he is supposed to be representing gives me the heebie jeebies.)

He needs to pay every penny back into the Exchequer.

Troll Patrol said...

Verity, I promise to look out for you in my annual trip to Boca.

Troll Patrol said...

what can I say - for once I agree with every word you say Verity. This guy needs to be put behind bars.

Chris A said...

Conway didn't deserve ...

Pull the other one Iain. He might have done it because everyone else was doing it, and has been unfortunate to get caught, but this man has been taking us for a ride and treating us like fools for years. I'm sure that we'd all like the taxpayers to fund our kids through university, but the majority of us live in the real world.

Johnny Norfolk said...

How anybody can give any support to this man is just beyond belief. He is a crook who has stolen money from hardworking people.

He should set a standard of behavour in his position and he has failed. He is just as bad as a 'bent copper'in fact worse.
He should be charged with a criminal offence and repay all the money for starters. It just make me sick that it is all tollerated.

Martin said...

The latest Daily Mail article which names someone it says there is no suggestion of wrong doing against and citing Mr Conway's son's sexuality is just plain nasty.

Diablo said...

Now we are getting into the realms of pure tosh - racheting up the level of Derek Conway's "offence" to the status of high treason. "Off with his head, stick it on a spike and display it on Parliament Green". You can hear the "baying mob".

Look, this bloke was stupid - an idiot, even - to think he could support his son through university by giving him a phantom job. All that is accepted - see my post on this last Monday.

David Cameron has withdrawn the Conservative whip and Conway has agreed to step down as an MP as well as paying back the £13k that the HoC comittee required.

Conway was a "dead man walking" - just like Hain was - and that should be the end of it. He did the right thing: David Cameron did the right thing and the Conservatives have done the right thing.

Unlike Brown and his busted flush of a so-called government.....

verity said...

And people seeking to excuse him by saying, "Oh, they all do it. The system's ripe for exploitation." Was someone holding a gun to Conway's head, saying, "If you don't misappropriate £1m of taxpayer monies for your personal ends, we'll have to shoot you"?

Many truly Honourable Members do not.

The rules need to be rejigged and hiring family members needs to be made against those rules. There is no excuse for it.

It infuriates me as a lifelong Conservative to say it, but this is worse than taking illegal backhanders from rich people eager to advance themselves.

This is taking illegal monies from people who didn't offer it; people doing the right thing by making small sacrifices to make ends meet in their budgets.

This Conway needs to find alternate employment immediately and start making his repayments to the British taxpayer. And I hope there is some way to invalidate his lavish pension. And the pension the British taxpayer made payments towards to safeguard Freddie's later years.

Anonymous said...

The baying mob got their dummy. Now it is time for Guido.

Has anyone read the FT blog. I do not think they get enough coverage.
http://blogs.ft.com/

verity said...

Oh, for heaven's sake! Cocktail hour's just begun where I am and already I am faced with this dreadful new site design - lots of weak, pale blue and a sense of Human Resources about it (no wonder Iain's fled the country) - but also, newswise, that damage limitations people are trying to divert complaints about Conway to some imaginary vendetta against Freddy's sexuality, which no one on Planet Earth gives a monkey crap about.

But already they're trying to muddy the waters in exactly the same sleazy way that Blair's merchants would have done it.

Cameron has to do more to stop this. He must act to the full extent of his powers, and if it is possible to charge Conway with something then he must do it. If he doesn't, he is finished as leader and the socialists will use this to prevail at the next election and further destroy our country.

M. Hristov said...

I have been out and about over the last few days and so I have had to rely on my new mobile to down log this blog. Unfortunately, the child lock is still on and it will not allow me to access comments on this blog.

All I saw was Iain dispensing the milk of human kindness to Jeremy Thorpe and Derek Conway.

When I got back to base I was amazed to read some of the comments that I had hitherto been denied access to.

What vitriol.

Lets start with Jeremy Thorpe. He was acquitted. He was not convicted but his political life was ruined. I understand that his trial affected him very badly indeed.

One MP, John Pardoe, lost his seat because he supported Thorpe.

However an acquittal is never enough for some people, such as the Peer of the Realm who I shared a railway carriage with recently. He had no good words for Thorpe.

Perhaps such people will only be happy once China becomes the dominant super power. I understand that there was a recent visit by a group from the Beijing Police Force to the magistrates court in Horseferry Road. The Beijing Police delegation asked why the court was taking so much trouble with defendants. If they are arrested then they are guilty. If they are not guilty then why arrest them?

Derek Conway’s behaviour has been wrong. However, I am not prepared to believe everything written about him, just because it is in “The Daily Mail”. I will wait for the verdict of a recognised tribunal, so far as the further allegations are concerned.

Iain’s behaviour has been outstanding. He has risked his own political career to support a friend.

We all have times in our lives when we need the support of friends. I have just gone through such a time and one ‘friend’ failed to support me. Another failed to do a very little thing to help me. Conversely, other people “bent over backwards” to help me when I was not expecting them to do so. I know who my real friends are now.

Londoner said...

Even though JD (11.10pm) seems to be in a minority of about one in thinking that Conway's behaviour was not terribly shocking, as he has attacked as "twaddle" my assertion that it is the most shocking action of any Tory MP for 40 years, I feel I must respond.

I didn't say it was necessarily the worst thing any Tory MP had done, just the most shocking. Apart from the fact that Archer hadn't been an MP for more than 20 years when his perjury came to light, I did consider him before asserting what I did but came to the conclusion, having observed the man and indeed having tried hard to prevent him being selected as the Mayoral candidate because he was untrustworthy, that I wasn't very shocked by it because I wasn't surprised. As for Heath, we are talking about personal behaviour here, not a political decision/policy that you may not have liked and which may have involved some economy with the actualite. And again, with his previously pro-Common Market stance it was hardly a shock. (Unlike Brown he didn't even promise a referendum, he said he would only do it with the "full hearted consent of the British people" - rather less explicit - and I don't even think Brown's action is the shocking thing he's done in the last few years.)

Getting more back to the point, I cannot accept this world weary view that everyone knows that MPs are on the fiddle. That, to quote JD is "twaddle". Many people assert they are but they never adduced any evidence to show that they knew it; and most people know that they have overgenerous pensions, large allowances to meet their staff expenses, that some (usually quite legitimately) employ their spouses and that they have second home allowances that can lead to some distorted declarations of where their main homes are (I wonder if Mr & Mrs Balls are reviewing their arrangements as we speak). But Conway's seemingly systematic milking of the system over two sons' University careers is not something that people "knew". And I would say, to JD and anyone else who says they knew that this and similar things go on all the time, why the hell haven't you done something about it by exposing the MPs that you "know" do this and campaigning for a complete overhaul of the expenses system?

Did all the people who "knew" this keep quiet because they were hoping to get the chance to abuse the system one day themselves?

No, as a fairly close observer of, and sometime participant in, the British political system, I remain unashamably shocked.

By the way, some might think that the more shocking thing 40 years ago was the Profumo affair, but I was actually thinking of Lord Boothby's association with the Kray twins. Admittedly, like Archer, he was not an MP at the time; and I was shocked in retrospect when I read about it much later rather than at the time. Maudling and Poulson comes close but it was all rather a muddle and Maudling's involvement not as close cut I think.

Anyway - Dale for Bexley & Sidcup, that's what I say. His neck of the woods more or less isn't it? And it will be important for the PPC to get on with the MP until the election, which Iain seems to be in an excellent position to do...and no wife or children to have the temptation of employing either.

canvas said...

Martin says: "citing Mr Conway's son's sexuality is just plain nasty."

Why? What's nasty about sexuality?
His son is as camp as Christmas.

Anonblogger said...

In fairness to Iain (and I know this will be damning him with faint praise) but he is being consistent. In the past I have offered him stories about Labour MPs wasting public money - stories that he hasn't wished to cover. I really don't think Iain is that bothered about MPs with their snouts in the trough.

Anonymous said...

The tip of the sleaze-berg. The Conservatives (and certainly under Cameron) are Nu-NuLab in waiting. And at this rate it could be a very long wait. They have blown it. UKIP or BNP anyone? Sadly they will do well out of this fiasco.

Unsworth said...

@ Garry

As to advertising - who was it who said that at least half of the marketing budget was a complete waste - but the trouble was he couldn't work out which half that was?

As to you other point(s), I'm not particularly interested in being drawn off topic to other areas. I'll repeat: "Maybe you are so easily incited, others are not. Do you seriously think that those posting and/or reading here are so weak? Perhaps you do..."

Your premise was that Iain is in the business of incitement and exploitation of a braying mob for political advantage, but you now seem to have disposed of that theory in favour of others.

PoliticalHack said...

I don't criticise Iain for standing by a friend - even if that friend is a bully who has enriched his family by thrusting his snout deep into the public trough.

He's wrong to compare it to Hain, Alexander, et al. Those seem to be examples of administrative foul-ups rather than genuine attempts to defraud the taxpayer - nobody commenting on this blog has lost a penny as a result of their actions. The same can't be said of Conway - we've all paid to ensure that his son can run those parties or the other one can enjoy his life at university.

Standing down now would be a better remedy, not hanging on for another couple of years to see what more cash he can siphon off from you and me. There's no honour in what he's done - he was caught bang to rights and he had no choice. Clearly he was told that there was no chance that the whip would be returned to him, so he would not be standing as a Conservative candidate when the next election comes.

I don't give a monkey's about his son's sexuality - I do find the idea of a 'F*ck off I'm Rich' party offensive. Particular as I paid for it.

Incidentally, I think that we should praise Tory MPs Nicholas Soames and David Curry (not something I'll do very often) for standing up to Tory committee chair George Young and insisting on a tough report and punishment for Conway.

Anonymous said...

I thought all MPs gave non-jobs to their wives and kids. Come to think of it, many of them do non-jobs themselves.

Derek Conway sounds like ideal Brussels material, when Peter Mandelson finally packs it in. Or he could have the British Council, after Kinnock, who was part of the mass sleaze-resignation in 1999; then he could find a nice job for his son in St Petersburg.

Clothilde Simon

judith said...

I think you'll find the Chairman of the Standards Committee is a Plaid Cymru man, who is being sensible about the whole matter.

Garry said...

@ Unsworth

You're not related to Gordon Brown by any chance, are you? I asked a very simple question. Yes or no would have done it.

"I'm not particularly interested in being drawn off topic to other areas."

Heh. No. You want to discuss one word in my original reply which has no particular bearing on the central point - Iain's point - as to whether he's being hypocritical. Wonder why. (If it helps you focus and avoids a long fruitless diversion, imagine I wrote "exploit" instead of "incite".)

To repeat:

The central point is one of consistency or lack thereof. The other day, Iain wrote that: "Politicians of all colours need to realise that they are held in lower public esteem than ever before and they need to react accordingly - not by arguing for higher salaries or allowances, but by addressing the failings of a political system which is becoming unfit for purpose - and by improving their own personal standards of behaviour."

Here he is a few days later suggesting that Conway, who misused his allowances to benefit his family, was the victim of a "baying mob".

Wouldn't you say that's just a little bit hypocritical, unsworth?

Anonymous said...

Fancy standing for Old Bexley and Sidcup, Iain? It's in Kent, not far from where you live, if I have understood correctly.

strawman said...

On the wider issue of the propriety and transparency of MPs' spending of public funds, it was inspiring to see Jack Straw on Sky News strongly supporting openness over MPs' expenses etc.

Is this the same Jack Straw who, as Leader of the House last year, seemed to be in favour of the David Maclean Bill to exempt Parliament entirely from FoI laws?

Another key driver of that undemocratic anti-openness legislative effort appeared to be the Speaker himself, who, among other things can also issue - and apparently has done so - statutory certificates exempting parliamentary information from disclosure under FoI.

Given the disquiet over the present Speaker, most recently on last night's Newsnight programme, let's hope he goes very soon, and is replaced by someone who can appreciate the pressing need for greater public trust in, and engagement with, Westminster. Ming Campbell, perhaps?

dexey said...

verity said...
It turns my stomach that he took this money not just off city bankers and upmarket real estate brokers, but people who get up at 4 a.m. to go and clean offices; people who work through the night as supermarket stackers and go home in the morning in icy cold; people working shifts in call centres; waitresses and waiters and people working in fast food outlets, and behind counters in department stores.

When you go like thst Verity. I find myself liking you.
These are the very people, just like me and mine, that always get turned over by the conservative party with the honourable exception of Mrs.T's years. She helped us better ourselves.

jd said...

Londoner

I have no problem with Conway's punishment - he was 'obtaining money under false pretences', he got caught, and he should take the fall for it.

What irritates is the people coming on here overdoing the vitriol and the surprise:

"An MP was fiddling the public purse! He was paying money to a family member for work they didn't do! I've never heard of such a thing. How could someone stoop to such foul villainy?!"

It's about a believable as a shock as:

"A political party was rewarding its supporters with peerages! That, that's incredible! Such a thing is unthinkable. How could they stoop to such corrupt depths?!"

By all means condemn the corruption, but cut out the mock incredulity, and rather than pouring all your vitriol on ONE man, have a look at the wider problem.

Dave Morgan said...

Derek Conway is a criminal, plain and simple. You don't pay a geography student £40 grand for 'foreign briefings'. This is a transparent lie and it deceives no one, not even you, Iain.

Apparently you don't consider fiddling a quarter million pounds of taxpayers money as anything special, or worthy of criticism.

One wonders why not.

Jess The Dog said...

Loyalty to one's friends should include fearless and prompt advice when required. I mentioned the Mess Webley and whisky option earlier, but a few further points need to be made.

Firstly, this is snout-troughery of the most stomach-churning kind. Chucking taxpayers' cash at youths so they can live out some sort of Brideshead type fantasy at university will not go down well with the public, to say the least. I only hope the younger Conway can salvage his Army career as questions may be asked about his integrity.

Secondly, this is an extreme example of the sort of corruption that permeates politics. The phenomenon is slowly changing, however. The jailing of ex-Ministers in the 1990s and the Tory sleaze of the late 1990s were bad enough (I speak as a conservative). Labour took that sleaze to new heights in a manner reminiscent of the closing pages of Animal Farm. This phenomenon, however, is not a new one. It is as old as politics. The private lives and bank balances of Disraeli, Lloyd George and Churchill would probably not stand up to scrutiny now. There are two key differences: in times past it was private money not public money, and the reach of the state - in terms of power and the tax burden - was far less then. As politicans take more money from taxpayers and exercise greater powers (at the expense of traditional professions, institutions and the community) they must expect far more scrutiny. The days of "honourable members" have now faded, most latterly thanks to "cash for honours" and the money scramble that was apparently the Labour deputy leadership campaign. Hain's "incompetencies" put a price tag on what MPs could be expected to get away with and Conway's crime of greed is probably the final nail in the coffin of parliamentary immunity.

My final point is this: accountability is desperately needed but it is easy to provide. I do not see why MP's spouses should be banned from employment. Politics, like the Church (and other organisations) requires conformity to a particular belief system. It also requires a considerable amount of sweat and toil prior to success. Politicians rarely arrive on the scene (through the selection process) without a few years of toil as activists or councillors. This activity tends to be run on a shoestring, helped perhaps helped out by family or close friends - who can also be relied upon in terms of confidence and ideology. It is a logical extension of the process to see a wife, husband or partner appointed as a researcher, office manager or diary secretary. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact it may help keep marriages and partnerships together through a fairly stressful existence. There are examples of where this has probably worked well (I cannot stand Margaret Beckett but I doubt her husband Leo is on the fiddle) and where it has worked less well (Mrs Gorbals Mick). Conway has taken the piss, to be honest. To get to the point there is a simple solution. All items of Parliamentary expenditure billed to the taxpayer must be made public, including employment arrangements. Voters can draw their own conclusions and vote accordingly at the election. I believe that most arrangements are at worst profligate rather than dishonest, and public scrutiny may save a penny or two as well as preventing blatant abuse.

The day of the honourable member is over. Taxpayers and voters are the ultimate authority.

As a footnote, Derek Conway should stand down now. He has no credibility and there is a small opportunity for some slight redemption.

Londoner said...

JD at 7:49pm. You may not believe it but my shock is not mock. I really thought that the vast majority of MPs were honourable. I know a number quite well, mostly having seen more of them before they were in politics or when they were on the way up than I do now, and I still believe that 95% of them would never even dream of doing this sort of thing. Maybe I have just mixed mostly with the better type of politico.

This thing has shocked me so deeply, I suppose, because it has shaken that faith. It certainly makes it a whole lot more difficult to defend politicians as a class which I have often done with non-political friends and acquaintances. Egotism yes, but usually laced with ideolism or altruism of some sort (I used to say). It still seems a wierd occupation of choice for the truly greedy.

So I still cling to the hope that this sort of behaviour is deeply untypical - but it is now only a hope, whilst before it was a belief. It is in that sense that it has been so deeply shocking to me, much more that the so-called sleaze of the 1990s which was usually understandable human frailty mixed with end-of-century farce.

It's not just the public money, but think what this says to a generation of students and their families who have progressively endured the withdrawal of student grants and tuition and then top-up fees, making going to University a serious financial gamble for many. And then they see "the political class" squaring the circle by giving their children jobs (or possibly sinecures) through University at public expense.

I assure you I have never been more sincere in any blog post as in this one now.

verity said...

Jess The Dog writes: "Politicians rarely arrive on the scene (through the selection process) without a few years of toil as activists or councillors. This activity tends to be run on a shoestring,"

The selectee to replace Anne Widdecombe certainly toiled as an activist - for the Labour Party.

That aside, I don't suppose Margaret Beckett's husband is on the fiddle, but Margaret Beckett is, otherwise she would have someone with the energy to be a professional secretary. And she takes her 80-year old husband on foreign trips with her. Why? HOw does he contribute to the furtherance of British interests? One more privileged socialist passenger.

Anyway, Conway should have to return the full amount of taxpayer funds he misappropriated, and that includes the funds we now know he misappropriated on behalf of Freddie's "constant companion", who was also on the British taxpayer payroll as a "researcher".

Dexey - Conservatives are for financial independence for everyone. Only when everyone is striving to better themselves, and doesn't feel cheated by having to give away money they worked for and need for themselves and their families, will society work properly.

As long as there is a privileged class of politicians/bureaucrats and dependency people (career welfare recipients) with votes, the lower end of society (by which I mean the less educated, but motivated)will never get its foot on the ladder.

Everyone should be in employment, except those truly incapable. Everyone should be a contributor to the society they live in. This is what creates wealth and opportunity for all.

Labour has announced it will shut down the few remaining grammar schools because they want to legislate intelligence and ambition and "equality of opportunity". No. They are taking away opportunity from bright children, because they know that the minute those children get a toe-hold into the middle class, they will abandon socialism.

Too bad grammar school doors being hammered shut will now motivate more parents to send their children overseas for their educations, depriving them of a family life but preparing them for the future. I believe many W Indian parents already send their children "home" to Jamaica to be educated because they see that the British system is patronising and low aspirational towards black boys.

Grammar schools create an independent, non-welfare class, many of whom could easily be very bright black children, but that doesn't suit the social manipulators. As St P J O'Rourke says: "When the water level rises, everyone's boats go up."

Anyway, Conway should apply for the Chiltern Hundreds immediately. And he should be required by law to repay every penny of taxpayer money he has channelled to his wife and his two sons and one of his sons' boyfriend. And given it back to people who get on the first bus or the early morning's first tube - or drive the first bus or the first tube - to go and do menial work to pay their own way - and also barristers and shop owners and merchant bankers. Everyone who is employed is a wealth creator and they deserve better than this.

eeyore said...

My dear fellow, you don't REFUTE any charge of hypocrisy (not unless you have bombproof evidence that you're right). You REJECT it.
"A pedant is a man who likes his statements to be true" - Bertrand Russell.

simon said...

Whilst we are on the subject of 'employing family members'. I watched one of this week's 'daily politics'. Labour Toady Caroline Flint said she employed her husband at her constituency office. I thought it was law that you had to advertise ALL vacancies for employment. Did Flint?

Albert M. Bankment said...

Paying his 2 sons more than their work was worth was a bit wide, a bit chancy, a bit tacky. It deserved the censure, the withdrawal of the whip, the brief personal disgrace. Nevertheless, it was a bit of a laugh, really, on the "give them an inch and they take a mile" basis.

Today's news, however, that the odious man HALVED his secretary's pay last year because money was tight, having just paid #2 son a bonus, makes me loathe and despise him with a passion which surprises even me.

He really should be forced to repay the secretary the underpaid salary.

jd said...

Londoner

I've met a fair number of MPs and Ministers from both the current Government and the last Tory one. I would happily admit that most have come across as perfectly amiable.

But I do find it much harder to buy into the idea that the vast majority of MPs are idealists and/or altruists. You may genuinely believe that but it's difficult to square with the fact that the vast majority of them would drop any pretence of principle in return for a front bench post.

Indeed, most of them don't even need the offer, just the hope. They come into Parliament and immediately just fall into toeing the party line, some because they never had any ideas to begin with other than a desire for power, others because they'll easily abandon whatever 'ideals' they had for a whiff of personal advancement.