Is the worm turning?

Is the cure becoming as bad as the disease? Blogger Iain Dale, a Conservative but a very fair minded one has come out in sympathy with yummy mummy Julie Kirkbride (Moran may be another story).

Julie Kirkbride quit, at least in part, over her child minding arrangements. She wanted her brother to be a child minder rather than a stranger. Who wouldn’t? It didn’t cost the taxpayer a penny, and yet she’s been made out to look as if she has fleeced the taxpayer. No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this.

He’s unlikely to be the last along these lines. Is there a whiff in the air of the Witches of Salem? If the expenses rules for MPs were almost undefined, the rules for getting rid of them are non-existent.. It’s bad enough for the parties to hold their separate star chambers; they have a vested interest in the bullet. Where’s the natural justice in that? Now Nick Clegg has this daft idea for Standards Commissioner Chris Kelly – he who is charged with coming up with a definitive new expenses regime – to rule on individual cases and then submit the “guilty” to recall by 5 % of the voters in the constituency, automatically triggering an immediate by-election. Kelly would surely be loathe to act in a semi-judicial capacity. And 5% recall would make MPs vulnerable to attack by a small group of Trots, fascists or monster raving looneys. Leave recall to the Californian dreamer and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I suspect it’ll take just one MP under pressure to fail to fall on his/her sword and bring a human rights case or go for judicial review. That could bring the whole tacky process to a grinding halt, before the Kelly report.. Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph is remorseless.

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