The heat is on Cameron as much as Brown

Today, it’s the turn of the Tory huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ squirearchy to be exposed. But has the scale of the disaster sunk in? Headless chickens is the irresistible cliche. Fears that Labour will take the bigger hit are easing, but offer little comfort. Definite signs are emerging that show that the public are turning away from both, with unpredictable results for British politics. In another blow to Parliament, the last shred of illusion was torn away from the office of Speaker. Disastrously miscalculating the impact, Michael Martin, the least respected holder of the office in modern times, turned his wrath not on MPs’ greed but on the Daily Telegraph and the leaker ( thief?). For the first time in the modern era, Martin provoked calls for a Speaker to quit, and drew even more than usual viciousness from sketch writer Quentin Letts.

The mask came off Commons Speaker Michael Martin at 3.30pm and the country had a chance to see this bent, bullying berk for what he is: a purple-faced disaster for democracy. Boy, he lost it. Gobblin’, gabbling Gorbals Mick!

The Speaker will surely suffer for slapping down Mallusk’s finest, Kate Hooey, herself no shrinking violet, and the Lib Dem whistle-blower Norman Baker, for suggesting he might have taken the wrong tack.

Asked on Radio 4’s PM whether Martin was the best person to defend the interests of the Commons, Hoey said: “Clearly he thinks he is. Let’s say I just wish we still had Betty Boothroyd.”

Can the biggest snouts in the trough be disciplined? David Cameron is frantically trying to find out if he can take this trick from Gordon Brown. But the heat is under both main party leaders equally, no mistake. Polly Toynbee pro-Lab arch-commentator in chief now demands Brown’s head by June 5. On the other side, Norman Tebbit, in old age still the house trained polecat , favours a people’s boycott in the Euro-poll, leaving the field open to minority parties like UKIP and ( though he disavows this) the BNP. Meanwhile as if to endorse the Tebbit case, no surprise that the public are showing signs of “a plague on both your houses,” according to a Populus poll in the Times.

Support for Labour has fallen by 4 points since early April to 26 per cent, just above its low last summer. The Tories are also down 4 at 39 per cent.
The Liberal Democrats are the main beneficiaries, up 4 points to 22 per cent, their highest position for nearly four years. Other parties are also 4 points up at 13 per cent. This is mainly spread between the nationalist parties, the BNP, UKIP and the Greens. The figures point to bad results for Labour in the local and European elections on June 4.

Four in five (79 per cent) also agree that, even if allowed, “if MPs had any integrity they would never have claimed for the cost of many things they did claim for, such as furnishings, cleaners and trivial household items”. A similar proportion said that the MPs’ defence that their claims were allowed under the rules did not wash.

The Tory roll of honour
* Douglas Hogg, the former agriculture secretary, submitted a claim form including more than £2,000 for the moat around his country estate to be cleared. The taxpayer also helped meet the cost of a full-time housekeeper, including her car. The public finances also helped pay for work to Mr Hogg’s stables and for his piano to be tuned.

* Sir Michael Spicer, the Conservatives’ most senior backbench MP, claimed £5,650 in nine months for his garden to be maintained. In December 2006, he submitted a detailed invoice which included “hedge cutting … helipad”, although he claimed last night that the “helipad” was a “family joke”. The Conservative grandee successfully claimed for the costs of hanging a chandelier in his main manor house.

* James Arbuthnot, the Conservative chairman of the defence select committee, announced last night that he would be repaying money he had claimed from the taxpayer to clean his swimming pool. This was among a series of payments made to maintain a country residence he rented before buying a £2 million home without a mortgage in 2007.

* David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, spent more than £10,000 of taxpayers’ money on home renovations and furnishings, including a new £5,700 portico at his home in Yorkshire.

* David Heathcoat-Amory claimed for more than £380 of horse manure for his garden.

* Michael Ancram, who is the Marquess of Lothian, claimed more than £14,000 a year in expenses while owning three properties, none of which have a mortgage and are worth an estimated £8 million.

* Sir Alan Haselhurst, the Deputy Speaker, has claimed £142,119 for his country home over the last seven years, despite having no mortgage to pay. He has charged the taxpayer almost £12,000 over five years for gardening bills at his farmhouse in Essex.

* Stewart Jackson, a shadow minister, billed the taxpayer for more than £11,000 in professional fees when buying a new home in Peterborough within a year of being elected to Parliament. He claimed more than £300 for work on a swimming pool and hundreds more for work to a “summer room”. Last night he agreed to repay the money claimed for the swimming pool.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    For a party trying to shrug off its posh image this is hilarious stuff.

    Tory campaign leaflet.

    Having trouble with your moat? Prefer not to pay for clearing it yourself? then join the Tory Party.

  • blinding

    I would not trust any of these politicians to flush a toilet.

    How can it right that such people can decide to send you men and women to war.

  • Driftwood

    Both Labour and Conservative are going to have to slash public spending in the next few years. How they are going to do this in the light of this embarrassing debacle is going to be a hard sell.
    Sir Michael Spicer’s little ‘joke’ about cutting the grass round his helipad will not have too many people laughing. In fairness to David Cameron though he is said to be ‘appalled’ by this behaviour.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    What PoshBoyDC says about moats

    No Tory home should be without one

    My home is my castle

    Its the politics of envy

    I know some people who have driveways.

    The servants love them – though we have lost a few during the years

    Tally-ho

  • ??

    In fairness to David Cameron though he is said to be ‘appalled’ by this behaviour.
    Posted by Driftwood on May 12, 2009 @ 10:39 AM………

    funny he was only appalled when it was printed in the Telegraph and not before.

  • If you live by the sword you die by the sword. It was inevitable after all those Conservatives and Lib Dems queuing up to criticise Jacqui smith etc that there would be shocks in their side as well.

  • Greenflag

    ‘David Heathcoat-Amory claimed for more than £380 of horse manure for his garden.’

    So the s**t finally hits the fans ? Thank the Torygraph for revealing all . They may not be able to reveal all in a page 3 sense but these kind of revelations are read even more than the biblical ones 😉

    Blinding ,

    ‘I would not trust any of these politicians to flush a toilet.’

    I would. – But not to repair one 😉

  • loki

    Go Kate!
    Ms Hoey is right up there with Joanna Lumley.
    Conservatives bad, Labour worse and I don’t think Lib-Dems can afford to be complacent either. At least Cameron has apologised (albeit belatedly)and has demanded explanations. Rot started under Labour and Speaker Martin is rightly in the frame for this one. Think back to two-jags. Tony obviously madfe a killing also

  • Mr J.

    I’m just sad I have not thought of becoming an MP before.

    I need to decorate my living room. I suppose I could use a new boiler and a housekeeper. My cat needs deloused too.

    I really don’t feel like paying for any of it. Jolly good thing we have the great unwashed, what?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Torygraph management of this story may have backfired – keeping the best till last may have allowed PoshBoyDC to arrange his cover but stink of unclean moats and manure may linger longer.

  • ??

    At least Cameron has apologised ..

    cameron apologised for the system, not his partys greed and deceit

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    …meanwhile drawbridge prices expected to soar with the increase in demand by new influx of Tory MPs after next election.

  • Yeah, yeah, all fine good and thoroughly predictable.

    However, let’s back-track a moment. Someone, somewhere has made a few bob selling confidential material. Someone, somewhere has betrayed the confidence of his/her employer, who happens to be (ultimately) the general public paying taxes.

    Yes, we have the right to know; but surely we have the other right to know: how much did the Telegraph pay for this stuff?

    Moreover, until the full documentation is freely available, we do not know to what extent the Telegraph is doctoring the material: at the moment, it looks like strong medication.

    I realise that this denies the wholly-trustworthy, honest, and principled journalists, serving us peasants entirely out of the goodness-of-their-dear-little hearts, their inalienable right to set the agenda and decide the political “narrative”. Equally, neither Hoey nor Baker have ever been known to ingratiate themselves with the lobby for personal kudos: oh no, never, never. And, of course, the Telegraph is an upright journal wholly incapable of manipulating matters: so little of what they have put into the public sphere has needed urgent correction and amendment, hasn’t it? Those open-and-decent Barclay Brothers (remember their reaction to the faintest hint of democracy on Sark?) would not be putting down a marker, saying, “Don’t tread on us, sunshine”, now would they? And making pasty remarks, and as near foul-mouthing as “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” could cope with, about a working-class Glaswegian accent is fair criticism, isn’t it?

  • Brian Walker

    No Malcolm it won’t wash. I normally love going against the grain, in favour of dull moderation, broad view etc. I dislike hue and cry, and even go along with some of the “feral media” analysis. But specifically because I believe in “hon members” I deplore this. Truffling for conspiracy in Sark will get you nowhere, though sure, the exposures may do something for the Telegraph’s sales and sure, the source is tainted though clearly almost entirely accurately interpreted, give or take the likes of Phil Woolas’supermarket bill. The public interest in the exercise is no less overwhelming because it dropped into the paper’s lap for a big mess of potage. What interested party is seriously arguing otherwise? The Speaker? The “full documentation” as you put it will not include the addresses which allowed the Telegraph to identify flipping, because of redaction. The horses have bolted. A sophisticated moralist like yourself knows full well that ( quite minor) errors and and even base motives by the messenger is no adequate defence for the guilty. I will attempt some context and even mitigation when the dust settles but for now – no excuses.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Would that be the same Ms Hoey, who allegedly claimed to be a resident on a certain island, and requested the half price discount on the publicly subsidised ferry?

    This was despite the fact the her property had only been recently purchased, and er it was doubtful that curly Kate would spend the amount of time required to qualify for the discount…..

  • Dave may be posh but at least he’s not a Marxist t

    Dave just kicked some serious ass at the press conference…

    Class warfare is just like soooo twentieth century.

  • Michael Martin makes me vomit

    *but at least he’s not a Marxist.. thug

  • elvis parker

    DUP posters very quite on this subject – it is almost as if they have been told to steer clear. Revealations to come…