Friday, May 29, 2009

Questions for Cash

Today's Telegraph revelations include the astonishing claim from Bill Cash for £15,000 in rent for a room in his daughter's Notting Hill home even though he owned a property in Pimlico. Even when he moved out after 15 months when she sold the flat, he then then nominated a London club as his second home, rather than the Pimlico property.
[Mr Cash] said his claims were in line with the rules and were approved by the House of Commons fees office.

He added: “What is lawful is appropriate.”

Asked why he lived in clubs rather than his own flat, he said: “I just didn’t and that’s all there is to it. I was nomadic at the time. It was around the time I was moving between two places and I was moving around.”
Sorry, not good enough.

But this illustrates a growing problem for political leaders and the media,and it is this. How on earth is it possible to be consistent when judging which of these incidents are serious and warrant a party taking action itself, or warrant a politician falling on his or her sword? You could accuse me of not being consistent in saying Bill Cash's explanation is not good enough, when I accepted Julie Kirkbride's. I could retort that Bill's explanation doesn't pass David Cameron's "smell test", but I thought Julie's explanation did. Why was Julie Kirkbride considered a more serious transgression by the media, than, say Hazel Blears, who cheerfully remains in her cabinet post? Wasn't what Tony McNulty did far more serious than any of these?

Objective reporting is not possible any longer on this issue because people are making subjective judgements the whole time.

* Questions for Cash was coined by Paxo on Newsnight last night, which I have just watched on iPlayer. The spat between Kelvin MacKenzie and Danny Finkelstein was a great bit of TV.

89 comments:

DC said...

No, Iain, Kirkbride never actually "explained" her complicity in the Kirkbride/Mackay second-home scam (other than the contemptible "I'm just a girl" 'defence'). She pretended instead that everyone was being beastly to her because she was a mum and you - almost uniquely among commentators - have played along with that. Why have you got such a blind spot on her?

And Cash should go too, no question.

Means Test ACA said...

Let's look at the facts and see what questions emerge.

1a. Bill Cash has been an MP for Staffordshire since 1997.

1b. Bill Cash already has a flat in Westminster.

Q1: Was this original flat bought by taxpayer largesse, or has he been nomadic for the last 12 years?

2a. Bearing in mind 1b..

2b. Bill Cash lived in his daughter's flat.

2c. Bill Cash also 'lives' in gentlemen's clubs

2d. Bill Cash has not provided an explantation for his unusual living arrangements.

2e. Bill Cash claims that no-one else is living in his own flat.

Q2a. Does 2e stand up to scrutiny, or may the honourable member wish to revise this statement?

Q2b. (Aside) Did Laetitia Cash submit this rental income to the Inland Revenue?

Anonymous said...

good morning,agree with your point iain,cash trys to say that he could have claimed for more on other houses,so i helped out my daughter instead.it doesnt wash though.the mistake kirkbride did was keeping quiet for so long and saying nothing about repayments she would make.

Anonymous said...

Daley Dozen Iain?

Anonymous said...

Daley Dozen Iain?

Anonymous said...

I could retort that Bill's explanation doesn't pass David Cameron's "smell test", but I thought Julie's explanation did.I'd be genuinely interested if you would explain why, Iain, as I recognise you do try to be impartial and objective, while declaring your tory partisanship.

However, it is not lawful to claim childcare as a working expense - to the significant cost of many working women (including me, and I'd guess I've done more irregular antisocial hours than Julie) who cannot even claim tax rebate on it. To go one step further and require an employer to pay is unprecedented. Yet by claiming the costs of the additional room to house her brother on the basis of his occasional childminding, this is what Julie was doing.

Why should every other woman in the country pay for her childcare out of her pocket, or have her retired family or friends do it for love, but Kirkbride claim public money for hers? MP's unusual hours are no defence - you will find many nurses, doctors, armed forces, emergency services, shift workers all have the same difficulties, and usually less income.

Down here as anon, but post on other fora as 'Delilah'

upbeatskeptic said...

Isn't the 'smell test' subjective by its very nature? Perhaps your own olfactory senses are simply different in kind from various commentators in the media.

Anonymous said...

This indeed gets to the heart of the matter.

If you do things 'by the spirit of the rules', then if you ask 6 people you will get at least 5 different opinions...

Anonymous said...

Laetitia Cash A lister.
Cameron why does this women get top marks from your selection panel..The tory party are full of men and women like her born and bred for the job me think,just like you...pathetic.Iain do you agree with me????????

Steve Hardy said...

Ian, as I said in another comment, it's not really about expenses but decades of pent up anger with our rulers. What seems to being still missed is that many of us want the whole lot replaced, every single one, tainted or not. We have a large civil service to provide continuity so lets just clean out the stables. There is no reason in a democracy for an MP seeing his tenure as a career, if they chose to see it that way, tough. I suspect, as a Conservative you are now rather regretting the whirlwind you have helped sow as you assume rationality should have some controlling influence. Sorry, humans don't work that way.

Anonymous said...

It is utterly wrong that MPs' who have decided to step down are allowed to draw their salary etc until the next election.
Cameron should show real leadership and now withdraw the whip in each and every case.
The country is crying out for some fairness,ethics and leadership over this whole sorry mess.

strapworld said...

Means Test ACA.

Conclusion must be Cameron has to immediately withdraw the whip from this man.

I will not hold my breath!

Cash will then join Ukip!

mark said...

I agree. The reporting is highly subjective. There should be an amnesty drawn around the whole debacle from the day after the Euro elections, as it seems there are political agendas flying around unchecked. This has two effects in my view. It confuses the public, and it serves to make politics become distant. Both ultimately lead to reactionary political voting.

Maybe that is necessary, but I would argue that the situation is now boring (has been for weeks actually) and will only damage voting turnout in the long term, once people get past the 'revenge' and scapegoat stage, and realise that politics bores them and possibly depresses them too..!

By opening a can of worms, you have short term political 'entertainment' and gain but long term voter disdain.

Ed said...

It's a good argument, Iain, except I would argue that Kirkbride most drastically failed to breech the 'smell test' -- she and her husband were essentially defrauding the public. This is before the so-called witch hunt started looking to see what other dirty linen there was. In sequence she hid behind her husband, her leader and finally her son. It's true, different people have a different sense of smell, but I think there's a clear consensus.

Of greater concern to me is that there's a focus on Conservatives before the Euros but maybe they're going to focus in on Labour woes later. I would certainly like more emphasis on the Chancellor's dodgy dealing. The Chancellor for crying out loud!

Anonymous said...

I agree that some MPs are under more scrutiny than others - and it does seem like the Tories are being focused on more than Labour ministers. But what I want to say is that on last night's Question Time the panel were asked directly if they agreed that any MP caught making fraudulent claims should be prosecuted. Farage (UKIP leader) was the only one who said they should be but the others (Hannan and Flint) dodged the question by harping on about reform.

This proves to me that our MPs still don't get the public mood and still think they can manipulate our thinking by telling us they know how to fix problems better than we do.

It makes my shit hang sideways.

EnCrYpTeD said...

Iain you are absolutely right. It has become a case where subjective judgements are being made, but surely you cannot blame the press or the electorate for this.

This situation has come about because the party leaders have failed in their duties to sort out their own MP's

When Gordon Brown allows members of the cabinet to remain without a blemish in his eyes and yet says that Blears was "totally unacceptable".

Or when David Cameron allows MacKay to "fall" but fails to act on Kirkbride, who most people feel was as bad as her husband.

What does the above tell the electorate and the press. It tells us that the people who should act, will only do so if it suits them and their agenda's.

It therefore falls on the press and electorate to move against the offenders. Of course when this happens some sense of proportion will be lost, but if those who can clean up MP's and Parliament fail to act, then they cannot complain when others do act.

JuliaM said...

" Why was Julie Kirkbride considered a more serious transgression by the media, than, say Hazel Blears, who cheerfully remains in her cabinet post? "

It's got nothing to do with the merit of the claims. It's because Kirkbride did her level best to keep herself in the public eye by trying to defend herself in TV interviews (badly!) and claim in newspaper articles that if she was pushed out it'd rebound on 'women with small children' who wanted to be MPs.

She put herself in harm's way, while everyone else kept their head down.

Good lord, it's not rocket science!

Sean Haffey said...

I suspect the party leaders are facing a real dilemma right now and it's on where to draw the line. A duckhouse clearly isn't acceptable. What about fine new furniture for the new home? OK then, food expenses? Bath plugs?

Put this against the fact that not a few of the MPs who have made dodgy claims (however you define dodgy) are actually very hard-working and have given years of good service to their constituencies.

The clean-up to some extent will have to be a fudge, because if the leaders threatened to fire every MP who so much as put a toe over the line they'd face a revolt.

The really bad MPs will go within a few weeks, less bad will quietly be persuaded to quietly retire and a number whose faults were small but have otherwise a good record will be allowed to carry on after a Final Warning.

Come to think of it, that's not too different from the law courts; some people get suspended sentences because of mitigating circumstances or because they've previously been "of good character".

pete_s said...

The gulf between MacKenzie and Finkelstein was huge. MacKenzie gets it and Finlelstein does not. If mature journos still do understand what is going on, what hope is there for insular MPs.

Anonybot said...

Others make very pertinent comments but I would add that both Conservative and Labour are exhibiting "double standards" in dealing with errant MPs. It appears that backbenchers can be "thrown to the mob" but that Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet members who in some cases have done the same as these MPs or even worse are still in post. Why? That's what the electorate should ask itself

trevorsden said...

Can't take Paxo seriously these days.

He is paid a fortune by licence payers and does bugger all for it. He did a pathetic series on the Victorians a while back which had already been covered by just about every self respecting TV personality before him, not least and and far better by the late Fred Dibnah - still I expect it paid the rent.


Bill Cash - as I recall from a snippet of an interview he said he had never previously (or since) claimed ACA in all his time in Parliament. Could be wrong but its worthy of checking.

Once again in the great scheme of things the BBC is concentrating on a Tory and not the likes of Darling and Hoon - or even Brown.

I should also add that although the Telegraph headline gives the impression that a Labour MP was giver 4 grand for a TV etc in fact he did not receive any money.

javelin said...

Fraud laws, tax laws, moral laws and House of Commons rules - in that order. Who has broken which rules?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:30 is spot on, but even more important is conspiring with your partner to maximise your troughing.

Anon 9:41 absolutely right, it is intolerable that these people continue to trough. Did you see Conway on tv the other night? "I'll take everything I'm entitled to".

Cash out.
Kirkbride out.
Jackboots out.
And of course, Balls out.

Dissolve this morally bankrupt parliament now! This is the meme taking hold of the nation. It is the only logical/correct thing to happen.

I thought Iain got this at first, but party blinkers are blinding people to the fundamental/revolutionary nature of this issue.

Unless there is a mass clear out Cameron will find the country ungovernable anyway.

Cameron can force a general election if he sets his mind to it. He needs to grit his teeth and make it happen and deal ruthlessly with the Kirkbrides and Mackays.

acadman said...

Why the hell are the media giving Labour ministers - McNulty, Blears, Hooh et al. such and easy ride...it looks like they are really going to get away with it!

Is it because Plod is investigating them? No charges have been brought, so keeping up the pressure on them won't effect jurisprudence.

I'll be spitting pins if these disgusting people keep their jobs.

Watching the response of the political class to all this is like watching some ghastly freak show.

How can such people really exist? Do you know anyone in your daily lives who are so utterly shameless, amoral, crooked and arrogant? I certainly don't.

And there is now a real danger in this for the Conservative Party - every day for the last few days its been a drip, drip, drip of accusations against Conservatives. This whole thing could in the end be seen as a purely Tory sleaze issue.

TonyHendo said...

I am begining to get the feeling that the Tories are coming out worse from this with more of their MPs in the firing line and more of them quitting. Labour, particularly cabinet members are simply keeping their heads down and letting the tsunami wash around them. None of the mainstream media or "outraged voter groups" are putting them under any pressure. Cameron needs to tread carefully or his hardline will result in the Tories looking like the worst offenders.

Old Holborn said...

Ok Iain

Let's have a list of the worst offenders. In your opinion.

Botogol said...

Iain, you still don't get it - it doesn't really matter what the media and the party leaders think: what matters is whether Bill Cash's CONSTITUENTS still want him as an MP.

All this will drag on until there is an election.

Gareth said...

"Why was Julie Kirkbride considered a more serious transgression by the media, than, say Hazel Blears, who cheerfully remains in her cabinet post?"

Blears was pilloried in the press for a brief period of time. She waved a cheque about and the media started asking Brown whether she would stay or go. What has followed is tumbleweed. The media are still asking questions and Labour are still hiding behind their 'Star Chamber'.

With Kirkbride Cameron made it clear quite quickly that his MPs should answer to their constituents. Andrew Mackay did and tried to spin the results with disasterous effect. Kirkbride then resorted to excuses given to the media, NOT her constituents.

The difference is Hazel Blears is a canny politician - she appeared contrite and quickly shifted responsibility for her position from herself to Bottler Brown which has duly put Brown in a pickle AND demonstrated where Labour MPs believe their authority lies.(ie not with us) As the news repeaters keep reminding us, Blears' behaviour was described as unnacceptable by Brown yet she is still in her post. Brown won't make such an executive decision because he simply can't.

Julie Kirkbride was unable to do anything similar in the Conservative arena. David Cameron is keen to keep the crap well away from him and is steadily positioning the Conservative party as the party of the constituent.

Anonymous said...

No-one else is living in the flat (present tense). I can think of one reason why someone might have kept a flat in central london but not lived there themselves.

Anonymous said...

Can we get away from the nonsense of a substantial numbers of MPs leaving Parliament now. It's simply not going to happen. Like it or not, the parties are going to fight any by-election and they simply cannot get enough new candidates in place quickly enough for instant dismissals. That is, of course, much worse for Labour than the LibDems and the Tories, simply because they have many more MPs and the other parties have their candidates in place for those seats.

stuart said...

I agree with you Iain that there needs to be consistency. Presumably what stops Cameron and Brown doing that is the sheer scale of this. They wouldn't be left with many MPs if they sacked them all. My opinion however - as someone who doesn't have to deal with the consequences and so can afford to be dogmatic, perhaps - is that they should all be sacked. Clear out the stables.

trevorsden said...

Guido picks up on something not widely reported.

"Minister for Work and Pensions, Rosie Winterton, claimed close to the maximum allowance for second homes - including soundproofing her bedroom."
Apparently (he says) she is Prescott's former mistress. ! I must be living my life under a bushel, I did not know that.
The Telegraph merely ay she is 'a close ally' and she was 'Prescott’s head of office between 1994 and 1997.' and 'Prescott supported her selection for the safe seat of Doncaster Central'. I must brush upon my code breaking skills.

Lovers of moats, cherry trees and duck houses should note she claimed for landscape gardening - ' “Please observe the quality of the trellis,” wrote the gardener '

Meantime as we distract ourselves countless thousands of British automotive jobs are on the brink of going down the tubes. God hopes they do not but if they do Mandelson MUST be made to resign.

SHB said...

I agree that the reporting of this in the media has become skewed and suspect that the Tories are getting more heat from the Labour leaning elements of the media in an attempt to divert the story away from the issues of tax avoidance and the more serious indiscretions by some Labour MPs.

The important thing, in my opinion, is for Cameron to be absolutley ruthless in clearing out any MPs who have the potential to become an electoral liability in the future. We know Brown won't do it, because for a start he'd probably have to fire a load of Cabinet members and ministers and he won't do it because;

a) he is rubbish at judging the mood of the people
b) he hasn't got the balls

The first party that gets past the 'Our Party Is Now Clean' finishing line will have a massive advantage and if Cameron can do it first then all the better.

The next election needs a result that absolutley condems Labour to years in the political wilderness, which is no less than they derserve after twelve years of causing nearly irreparable damage to the UK.

wolfie said...

@ anon 9.47

In fact Hannan quite clearly stated that the very small number who had appeared to act fraudulently shoiuld be investigated and prosecuted.

This is the problem. Politics is tribal and even the public can't resist playing it. Last nights "audience" was the most selective I've ever seen. Sir Paul Judge of The Jury Team was in the front row sniping with political comments at Farage

Obnoxio The Clown said...

"Why was Julie Kirkbride considered a more serious transgression by the media, than, say Hazel Blears, who cheerfully remains in her cabinet post? Wasn't what Tony McNulty did far more serious than any of these?"

It's a good point. Kirkbride needed to go, but the media seems to be giving Labour and the LimpDems a free pass on this one.

Anonymous said...

Ian. I really do sympathise with your mixed feelings.

Thinking one thing on minute, and another seconds later.

Don't beat yourself up look on the bright side.

The "Labour" days are nearly over.

The bad MP's will soon be gone, and the sooner the better.

Those that should have known better are chastened.

A much larger proportion of the Nation is now "connected to politics.

Parliament will “never” be quite the same again and in a good way.

Now, it is not time for your little nap?

wapping boy said...

The news last night was very grim for the Tories. The BBC did a list of who had decided to step down and it was mainly Tories - inexplicably, those Labour MPs who have been claiming for non-existent mortgages were described as "hanging on", although God only knows how they can survive.

But the impression was clear: the Tories are by far the worse offenders. This image is conpounded by Brown and those ministers who have questions to answer simply going to ground. It may look like Cameron is being decisive and prepared to take action, but what will voters remember most: all those Tory photos in the papers or the fact that Labour ministers and MPs haven't yet been subjected to the same level of scrutiny (or witch-hunting, if you prefer)?

Both Brown and Cameron are being very clever in following their chosen strategies, but we don't yet know which of them will work.

wv: "fighter"!

VotR said...

A very British revolution.

If we can stop watching our TV's and put off getting drunk this weekend, we might actually be arsed to kick up a fuss so the criminal activity can be complained about and investigated. Pitchforks are optional.

The police are sitting on their hands. What will it take for them to get shifting and actually do something? Unless it's against the Tory's to invade their personal offices, that is, at Jacqui Smith's insistence.

Faustus said...

Iain has revealed twice now that he doesn't understand that MP's serve at the pleasure of their constituents, who are now greatly displeased with many of them.

Iain supports David Davis (portico only a porch, paddocks only lawns) and Julie Kilbride (brother only a baby-sitter, sister only a secretary).

Iain disagrees with the voters, and by so doing shows he doesn't understand who is the boss.

This is the same misunderstanding shown by Julie Kilbride, who apologised to Cameron but not to her constituents.

Cameron does not employ Kilbride, Iain.

Tony

Disco Biscuit said...

And that, Iain, is why we need a general election.

Thats News said...

Is Rosie 'noisy' in bed? “Is Clegg strangely unaware?” It's the Friday morning update at Thats News!

davefromluton said...

The problem with this saga is that the more obvious excesses are coming from the Tories, particularly the 'grandees' and that is dominating the news.
The most serious are those like McNulty, Darling, Blears and Hoon which are getting no coverage.
Right-wing bloggers should be attempting to re-focus the agenda, not continuing to navel-gaze over Kirkbride and Cash. They and there like should just be de-selected

Thats News said...

PS... I forgot to add this... I think the anti-Telegraph backlash will commence fairly soon.

In a way, this could be the begining of the end for the Daily Telegraph.

Are you going to run a Daly Double, featuring 24 posts from the past two days?

Anonymous said...

Isn't the basic problem that all of our MP's are out of touch and on the take?
The whole system is rotten to the core, they don't represent people's interests, they represent the interests of the powerful, the connected and mostly the EU. They have got used to treating the people with contempt and now they are all caught out.
On some level I think most people realise this, that's why we have the rage.
I hate to think what is going to happen when the next stage of the financial crisis hits, which looks like it will be about autumn. Revolution, here we come.

cherami said...

Surely what should happen is that during the summer recess, every single MP should go back to their constituency and get themselves either endorsed or deselected - immediately, not at the next election. Since the Labour Pary has no money, there should be a cap of a thousand pounds for electioneering - which will mean doorstepping and public meetings.

And the 52 MPs Kettle mentioned in the Guardian this morning who are soliciting peerages should be named and shamed and have the whip withdrawn at once.

Blair's legacy? The end of decency in politics.

Sue said...

The Labour Elite have hidden themselves away it seems. They're hoping it will all blow over and that Gordon will continue to defend them.

I am still waiting for the worst of the Labour culprits to be sacked!

What has happened to them all? Why hasn't Jacqui Smith gone, Hazel Blears, Mr & Mrs Balls? So far, their only casuality has really been Moran.

skingers said...

I agree... NOT good enough. Another illustration of the cavalier attitude and this from a very wealthy person. See http://tinyurl.com/n8fyod for a breakdown of all expenses. It is important to remember that NOT ALL MPs were abusing the system but they were in a minority sadly. See also http://tinyurl.com/l5t3vr which proves no relationship between Parliamentary Majority and sums claimed. I will annotate graphs when I have the time.

Anonymous said...

When asked (on Newsnight) to explain paying his daughter £15,000 of taxpayers money , Bill Cash seemed to indicate it was because she was getting married (an expensive time) and working hard on fighting bi-elections.

He seemed to be explaining why he gave her the mmoney - but it wasn't his to give!!!!!

Newmania said...

Iain the figure who seems to slithering along in the hope he is forgotten is Purnell. Please don`t forget him or Hoon or Straw come to think of it but above all Purnell who is one of the worst offenders and cannot have any place in politics now.

What about young La Cash as well , she was complicit in all this and should surely be removed form the A List and future consideration . What on earth are the Conservative Party doing in any case promoting a Deb of the year via nepotism .

Is this supposed to be the new inclusive Conservative Party

LAETITIA CASH -is everything the Party cannot afford to be .Elitist corrupt distant from ordinary life and everything that sustains the Labour Party.
What can she know about what a increased Gas bill means, how can she understand unemployment when employment is optional for her? What on earth has she to contribute to social mobility except to stop it. People like her make the Party seem merely a defence of privilege and there is no future in that.

She has to be dropped with her ridiculous father

Harri said...

Why was Julie Kirkbride considered a more serious transgression by the media, than, say Hazel Blears, who cheerfully remains in her cabinet post? Wasn't what Tony McNulty did far more serious than any of these?


Precisely Ian , why indeed?

I suspect that there are several million other people asking the very same question. proof if ever needed that the whole system is infected with corruption and back slapping.

Has Brown surfaced from his underground lair yet! mind you he is not too good at facing the music is he.

curly15 said...

Looks like the market in white vans is about to be saturated then!

Anonymous said...

'How on earth is it possible to be consistent when judging which of these incidents are serious and warrant a party taking action itself, or warrant a politician falling on his or her sword?'

You leave it to the voters. Give us a General Election and we'll decide.

It was called democracy last time I heard.

niconoclast said...

The wisteria in the drawing room is Cameron himself as everything rots from the head down.He should resign and show an example.As Westminster is simply a clearing house rubber stamp for Brussels dictats our MPs are mere EU hirelings, a shabby collection of emolument sucking sinecurists and third raters.They are merely aping on a minuscule scale their Brussels puppet masters.

Dave said...

Julie's problem was really caused by a grassroots campaign in her constituency. They were happy to appear on the rolling news channels. Up for collecting signatures in the High Street.
Julie just disappeared. If you can't bring yourself to explain yourself to your consituents you are in trouble.
But it's not rocket science. If two MP's claim second home allowance despite the fact they live in the same home and then one goes... so must the other.

Dimoto said...

For Pete's sake !!!

Whilst Iain Dale and chums ponder whether Cash should go/how many angels can dance on a pin head, the Labour dirty tricks brigade has nobbled the press, and turned this into a full-blown Tory Sleaze story.

For God's sake, pay attention to the main event !
Iain Dale is well connected, how about some answers on the totally ineffective Tory response ?
This blog is more and more like a girlies gossip column.
The COUNTRY won't survive another 5 years of Brown !

Vienna Woods said...

Maybe Nadene wasn't so far off the mark by insinuating the Barclay brothers have an agenda here. It's becoming very clear that the Conservatives are being targeted here and Labour are being given a free ride. Even the Mail and other dailies have been blindly following the Telegraph lead. The trouble is with all these revelations is that most are now concentrating on claims made and not those that have been paid out. The "moat" story is a point in question.

What is it with the media people in the UK that makes them hound, fabricate, lie and mislead without fear of being sued silly.

p smith said...

Iain, you have finally alighted on what is utterly wrong with Cameron's early attempt to steal the moral high ground by tossing, on an entirely arbitrary basis, certain of his colleagues on to the bonfire whilst implicitly backing others. Why is it unacceptable for Douglas Hogg to claim £2,000 for clearing a moat but it is acceptable for Cameron himself (and hundreds of other MPs) to claim for mortgage interest when all of them fully intended to trouser any capital gains made at the time of ultimate sale (typically after they had left office)?

The fact is that Cameron took the easy road of throwing easy meat to the wolves adopting an entirely bogus "smell test" rather than seeking to agree some objective, cross party rules as to what is and is not acceptable. Brown and Clegg of course have followed Cameron's lead in what has become an unedifying and cowardly pander off, whereby loyal colleagues are thrown off a cliff to create the impression of action on the part of their leaders.

Oh and can we please put to rest the idea that Julie Kirkbride finally decided to resign of her own volition yesterday and that Cameron was supportive of her. She stated repeatedly that she wanted to fight on (and I have every sympathy with her) but it's abundantly clear to all but the most myopic, that her sudden volte face was prompted by a call from Cameron who told her to fall on her sword because the headlines were getting nasty for the Tories. You know it, I know it.

The fact is that Cameron, Brown and Clegg have known that this has been going on for years. For them to suggest otherwise (and no one is more sanctimonious in that respect than HeirBlair) is a damned lie.

Unsworth said...

People make subjective judgements about everything, always have done, always will. After all, one man's 'objectivity' is is another's 'bias'.

But in this case it's clear that Cash has broken the letter and spirit of these 'rules' - to the extent that fraud has taken place.

I think Cameron has got it just about right. He's telling his MPs that they must answer to their constituents - who are justified in believing that MPs are sent to Westminster to act on their behalf. If MPs are found wanting by their electorates they should be turfed out. In my view that should be immediately.

One 'political commentator' (on the BBC, naturally) said this morning that all political parties are terrified of by-elections being held after an incumbent has stepped down in such circumstances. So MPs are likely to leave Parliament only at the time of a General Election. Presumably this commentator also believes that people's memories are that short.

When are we likely to see any similar actions from the Labour Party?

Shamik said...

Iain, I still don't understand why Kirkbride and Dorries have escaped your wrath, apart from the fact they're friends of yours.

There can be no exceptions.

What's really annoying about the whole affair is the double standards being employed by the Prime Minister, David Cameron and now yourself; denounce all offenders or none at all...

Paul Halsall said...

Well I'm really glad Tom Harris seems to have come out of this unscathed.

Anonymous said...

Why does millionaire Bill Cash want to be an MP?

More pertinent: Why do stupid Tory associations chose such people as candidates?

Lets have open primaries to expose the patricians; to scorn their sons and daughters who can't think of anything better to do.

We'd be spared Wiggins and might have avoided adopting the Rees-Mogg/Cash/Gummer sprogs.

Scott said...

What about McNulty and the rest of the cabinet?

They must not be allowed to wriggle out of this.

Jonathan said...

"People are making subjective judgements the whole time" you say, but how is that different to any other day?

The mistake here is confusing "giving your opinion" with "reporting". Iain, you rightly attempt to be objective in your opinions - and well done for doing so, and doing it well. But nonetheless opinions are always subjective to some degree. In giving your opinion, you have made a conscious decision to cross a line that prevents you from objective reporting. This is fine - as long as you don't deceive yourself about it.

There are differences. I won't pass judgement on whether these are good reasons, but if the goal is objective reporting we might note:

They both got a kicking in the media. A quick, utterly unscientific Google News search suggests it was in fact Blears who received more criticism at 2,520 stories to 2,115, many of which were calling for her resignation.

One is a cabinet minister, the other a backbencher. A turbulent cabinet is a different political problem to losing a backbencher, so we can expect to see different outcomes.

Blears played a different game in response, notably the cheque for £13,000 or somesuch, Kirkbride demonstrates no remorse and in fact has made it perfectly clear that the fault lies entirely with us, not her - a very risky tactic in politics.

If each MP is going on the basis of their constituency reaction, it might reflect local opinion rather than media treatment.

Labour is in power and has incentives to find reasons to keep ministers politically alive, while David Cameron is in the process of shaping the Conservatives to his liking and has incentives to be able to pick his roster of MPs and candidates.

If objectivity is the goal, you would look for these differences between Kirkbride and Blears rather than just throw up your hands, and effectively say "because it's an entirely subjective witch hunt, I have no need to consider the possibility I'm wrong because, hey, it's all a matter of opinion isn't it?"

Of course, all that still leaves the question of whether the media is reporting or opinionating...

Iain Dale said...

Jonathan, sorry, but when did this blog profess to be providing a reporting service, let alone objective reporting. Look at the top: Politics, humour, gossip, commentary. I make no secret of where I come from politically. But I am neither a journalist or a reporter. I comment. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

that is true, Chip, you do comment. Trouble is, it's your comments that often don't make any sense.

You're a classic flip-flopper.

DespairingLiberal said...

Iain, the objectivity or otherwise of your evaluation of the relative merits of the Cash claims versus the Kirkbride claims may be uppermost in your mind, but they are hardly the main story.

The big story here is the extraordinary humbug, hypocricy and conceit of this man Cash. For many, many years he has ranted in Parliament about the need to leave the EU, to critique it, to dump it, all on the grounds that it is rotten with corruption to the core, etc, etc.

Is there anyone in British political life who is currently revealed to be a bigger user of the humbug drug?

cherami said...

Ian Dale

Take your point about commenting, but surely you ought to be commenting on the real scams - Darling, Hoon, Purnell and all the rest of the Labour fat cats.
That is where the real scandal is - at the very head of government.
When is the witch hunt against them going, rightly, to begin?

Anand said...

For god's sake Mr Dale, are you still barking on abour Ms Kirkbride?

You are on a losing wicket, just accept it and move on, she had to go and she has done.

Just because others esp those in the Cabinet have made worse transgressions does not mean Julie should not have resigned, it just means someone is giving the Cabinet an easy ride.

There is a clear threshold of guilt to uncover at which accused MP should step down (IMO should quit now and forgo the cushy parachute payments but that's a different argument)

Bill Cash has clearly created a short term scenario to maximise financial gain for his daughter. It may not have been against the rules, but it is NOT beyond reproach and smacks of exploiting the ACA for his daughters financial gain.

Anonymous said...

Labour will come out of this worse than the Tories, simply because Tories are ideologically inclined to advance the worth of the individual.

That Labour politicians who purport to advance the lot of the collective nover the individual is much harder to take for most people.

Anonymous said...

interest rates low,inflation low,for once trains running on time.lol.as a new voter in the next election who wants to vote for cameron,something is stopping me, he wants to scrap the targets in the NHS, this alone surely wouldnt help the general public,and it seems the worst offenders in all the scams are tory MPs.

OllyReader said...

I'm with Shamik and a couple of the other commenters. If Cash is bad in your eyes, why isn't Dorries or Kirkbride?

I believe quite a bit of the Expensesgate coverage has been hysterical and unjust; and while I accept that you are not an impartial journalist, surely you have to maintain some consistency in your position?

..Silicon Implant!! said...

Indeed, my interpretation of what Bill Cash said on Newsnight is effectively "There's this expense allowance that I wasn't claiming and didn't need but my daughter was a bit skint and needed a sub so I thought a good way to do it was to claim* that I was living there and get the commons fees office to subsidise her life while she was running her political campaign. It would have worked as well if it wasn't for you meddling kids..."

Actually the last sentence may be added for humorous purposes rather than interpretation. However, the '*' refers to the possibility that he might actually have moved in to her spare room in the belief that it gave his claim more legitimacy, in which case of course the neighbours etc would have seen him leaving in the mornings and returning in the evenings, won't they. And Taxi drivers will have dropped him off outside regularly, as opposed to somewhere else. So we should know soon enough.

However, I'm afraid that 'Getting the taxpayer to fund my daughter's political ambitions' is not 'wholly, necessarily and exclusively' part of Bill Cash's job as an MP, is it.

So at best what he did here is ethically grossly unsound, if he lived with his daughter rather than live in a flat he owned nearer parliament he fails the 'necessarily' test in the rules and should repay the money (and throw himself on the mercy of his local party), but at worse (if it were to turn out, however implausibly, that he for instance didn't live in his daughter's spare room after all, merely channelled taxpayer's money to her) he is also guilty of fraud. And presumably so would she be, if she knew that he was fraudulently claiming expenses on that basis. Would it even be a conspiracy to defraud?

A political career potentially undone and a dynasty bought low by graft before it even starts. How terribly unfortunate...

Weygand said...

The fact that more Tories have gone is good news for the Conservatives.

It shows that they have a decisive leader with the authority to enforce his will.

Labour have a leader who seems emotionally a broken man, stumbling about in confusion (still not explained why Blears is unacceptable but Purnell and Hoon are fine) and with no authority at all. Brown knows that if he tried any substantial initiative it would lead to a revolt and his own downfall.

Kirkbride went because the media knew that not only was there a good case against her but that there existed the means to get rid of her.

The same does not apply to Blears, Hoon etc. There is also little incentive to pursue them when it is clear that their political careers will very soon be over.

not an economist said...

I am beginning to think this whole issue will end up damaging the Conservative party more than Labour.

Y'know that massive overall majority we were all expecting for David cameron? Its slowly ebbing away and may end up as a small but manageable labour victory ...

Paul Halsall said...

@not an economist

Today I went through all the Telegraph's separate Labour and Tory lists, Plus The Guardian's Spreadsheet at http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=phNtm3LmDZEObQ2itmSqHIA

I agree with commentators here about Hoon, Purnell, Blears, and (with some regret) Darling. Then there are the Labour members who were just milking the system (Moran) or doing thinks so stupid (Chaytor etc.) It's also true that the Telegraph needs to apologise to some people - eg Woolas (and I am not a fan).

But when you look at the Tory problems they seem somehow worse.

Many more claims for luxuries etc, that do not make good news.

Anonymous said...

Enough of the minnows Dave-time to see some blue blood on the floor.Wisteria or no wisteria!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time we got "Questions for Dave" and this time when everyone isn't at work!

..Silicon Implant!! said...

The anonymous Labour stooge who keeps going on about Dave's Wisteria... do you know something we don't? My understanding was that the Wisteria claim was reasonable in context, it just looked a bit 'off'. Much like Brown's cleaning which was also reasonable in practice but done in a way that looked 'a bit off'. Dave has in any case repaid the Wisteria clearing bill (which would have been fine if it had been called a 'stopping chimney collapse bill'.

The only real avenue of attack on Dave is the fact that he is claiming his mortgage interest on a big Oxfordshire pile rather than on his London home, but given what renting a home in London costs, and given the dreadful issues that Cameron had with his personal family circumstances that would have had some pretty severe implications for the size and hence cost of his london home, nobody has yet attempted to show that he wouldn't have ended up claiming the same or more for his London place than he claimed for his designated second home. So, what has he done wrong? If Dave has to go for his wisteria then there will only be about a dozen MPs who don't, and Brown will be joining the exodus with his entire cabinet!

JamesW said...

@Paul Halsall

Why do the Telegraph have to apologise to Woolas? He made a lot of bluster about inaccuracies and threatened to sue, but I was under the impression that the Telegraph had him bang to rights.

http://tinyurl.com/womens-stuffThe purchases in question are from a set of receipts from Tesco, M&S, Sainsbury's and Somerfield. They total £210.31. They include heels, bibs, baby wipes, nail polish, comics and a ladies jumper. Woolas was reimbursed for £210.31. He is only allowed to claim for items essential for his job as an MP. This is what Woolas has to say in response:

'The claim is one document and the receipts are another. The fact that they both add up to the same amount doesn't prove anything. It doesn't mean that the fees office paid for the non-food items on the receipt.'

The "You can't prove nuffink!" defence. Have I missed something?

As for Julie and the smell test, perhaps Mr Dale finds her as fragrant as the delightful Lady Archer.

bladerunner86 said...

"I could retort that Bill's explanation doesn't pass David Cameron's "smell test", but I thought Julie's explanation did".
Iain once again you fall into the same trap as before and in your attempt to defend Julie you open yourself up to criticism that you are inconsistent and do not understand politics in an objective sense. Your interpretation is based purely on your subjective sentiments and have lost all objective basis. Therefore one can assume that you are incapable of understanding the broader questions in politics because you are incapable of seeing the bigger picture which is about ethics in politics.
Your comments about the 'smell test' is subjective in nature and open to interpretation. Is that what you intended?

Furthermore Iain Julie Kirkbride never admitted in her explanation her complicity and ethical digression in her claims. In other words she and yourself both assumed that she did not do anything wrong.

How is this any different? Quite frankly it isn't!

bladerunner86 said...

However one point I do agree with you on is that the reporting on the issue is highly subjective.
But I think this also applies to how you treat this story as well as the media at large.

bladerunner86 said...

"when did this blog profess to be providing a reporting service, let alone objective reporting. Look at the top: Politics, humour, gossip, commentary. I make no secret of where I come from politically. But I am neither a journalist or a reporter. I comment. Simple as that."
So what can discern from this? The only thing that we get from this is that you are incapable of being objective about an issue and understanding its complexity because you are unable to move beyond subjectivity.
There is a difference in coming from a particular point on the political spectrum interpreting events in an reasonable way, criticizing where appropriate... and your approach to Julie Kirkbride - which is biased.

Captain Kirk said...

Why has Kirkbride and Dorries and to a point Cameron's inaction over the events escaped criticism.
Iain your approach to Kirkbride, Dorries and Cash smells of double standards.

Barry said...

Iain you do not understand that MP's serve their constituents and not for their own self-interest and self-indulgence.

julie freeride must go! said...

sounds like he should be hounded as well? according to your theory, though, why haven't we seen the conspiracy in action, ie; Galloways Respect minions sending their gestapo in for another political hit, like they did with poor ikkle julie? If he was behing Kirkbrides campaign, where are the other actions?

avid Hughes said...

Iain - you are trying a "shotgun approach here and it doesn't work.
You are correct about Bill Cash ( isn't there a bit of previous about him somewhere for some reason ?) and I truly believe that you are incorrect ( I did post on another thread) about Julie Kilbride.
But - and it is pertinent to your question about Blears - the Cabinet members are in place regardless because Incapability Brown cannot/will not see that he needs to rid the government of these people. It's hardly going to make his position more difficult if he does, rightly, get rid of them, is it ?
I happen to think that Cameron "is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy" but he needs to grasp the very pointed nettle, big style - and quickly. Then Clegg will be sidelined, Brown isolated and it's a free shot at goal !

David Hughes said...

Bladerunner 86 - 8.01 pm :
Bladerunner 86, this isn't a reporting service - it's a blog. It reflects the blogger's views and beliefs - not reporting fact or fiction.
You want a reporting service then use the mainstream media output. You want discussion and debate - well, here you are ! Agree with Iain, or disagree but please, don't expect an unbiased reporting service - he's on a political candidate list. And he's nowhere near as rabid as some of them.

Jane Austin said...

Sorry Iain but sometimes I think you don't understand politics at all.

Jane Austin said...

Wake up Iain and get into the real world