Still in denial

You have to remember that political commentators are closer to politicians than they are to the public. Most knew that something stank in the MPs’ allowances system. Some feel guilty that they didn’t probe the expenses scam sooner. Others will make excuses. Pro-Tory Bruce Anderson pleads for main party unity to reform the system. Mike White in the Guardian makes a pretty thin case in arguing that the Telegraph favoured the Conservatives by exposing Labour first. Columnist Jackie Ashley thrashes about fantasising that Gordon Brown might call an early election, or else make way for Alan Johnson or whoever after the expected debacle in the Euro-poll next month.

All however can unite with relief to damn today’s Commons plan to contract out a new expenses audit to an outside company, thereby skirting Freedom of Information and restoring secrecy. Cock up or conspiracy? The former, I think but take your pick. Meanwhile, although White argues (wrongly I think) that the Sinn Fein story was cast as a distraction from Tory scams, he also adds :

Ian Paisley’s employment of his extended DUP family, Peter and Iris Robinson’s generous arrangements, have yet to get the treatment.

But the extended family isn’t part of the disclosures. It’s another theme entirely – the ability to create a political dynasty.
Adds Did Gordon Brown wait for three days to say “sorry” out of his usual stubborness? Apparently not, (see below the fold) . It seems he was waiting for a clear account of Cleanergate to come from his sister-in-law, to avoid any impression that he personally has anything to be sorry for. It was Clare who had the thankless task of looking after the London detritus of his former life as a batchelor. Clare, wife of brother Andrew, brings the story up to date in Guardian.

Despite a full Downing Street statement the night before, Andrew was woken up just after 6am on Friday by the doorbell. Within seconds an unannounced person was up the stairs of our building and banging on the door of our flat, demanding answers to questions. Being that he was just in his boxer shorts Andrew didn’t open the door (believe me, the world should be grateful).

Then Brown said sorry – sort of – but Downing St added he was “satisfied” with ministers’ explanations. Isn’t he easy pleased?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London