Working for the ‘sleaze department’ of the Conservative party…

Peter Robinson gave a press conference this afternoon picking up the News of the Screws story yesterday suggesting the Swish Family Robinson, ie, he and his wife, were picking up over £500,000 a year in salaries and expenses… He accused local UUP MLAs David McNarry and Danny Kennedy of working for the Conservative Party’s sleaze department… You do have to wonder at the capacity of this story to generate both genuine and mock rage, in an atmosphere where sums of up to £300,000 are being offered for detailed dirt on MPs… It seems to me that there is almost certainly another scandal hidden beneath this fairly blatant scandal generation scheme…

The election of Boris Johnson and the quietitude in the media thereafter (particularly London’s only paid for evening newspaper; ie, the previously implacable Standard) is the fore runner of what will happen after next year’s general election… whether issues underpinning MP’s expenses is put to bed or not…

I’ve no sympathy with a Labour administration that is too tired and too long and lazy in its reflexive ways to help itself, but I’m no fan of being manipulated either…

As for the Robinsons, the one legitimate gripe that might be made about their salaried status, is the fact that they both hold two jobs in two legislatures. The truth about Gregory Campbell’s spirited rearguard action on Hearts and Minds, regarding the poor attendance of previous single jobbing incumbents from the UUP, is that stating you’re still not as bad as the last guy is a poor man’s defence.

The problem is, as Robinson admitted to me last year, that the party’s hands are tied somewhat by the instability of the current Stormont institutions. In the meantime, the UUP seem determined to make hay whilst the Tory Oppositionalist sun shines…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty