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Tuesday 28 April 2009

Breakdown of the Gravy Train

A week is indeed a long time in politics. In this post, I looked at what Pa Broon had actually said about reforming the parliamentary expense system, rather than his performance, concluding that this was aimed at choking off the welter of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests about which MPs were claiming for flat screen TVs, sofa beds and bathplugs. I did think that, after the usual posturing, Brown might get some measure of agreement for the idea, but that now looks a long way off.

And if the Broon YouTube performance was bad, the posturing and reasoning of the other two party leaders has not stood serious analysis either. In the case of David Cameron, this may be related to a less than happy conversation he had with Pa Broon late last week.

Brown directly pinned part of the blame for all the expenses hooha on Cameron, for making party political gain from the subject. He was right, but this was never going to help the two reach an understanding. So Young Dave has come out even more jolly angry than usual, yet again using the whole business to slag off the Government, while failing to put forward any proposal of his own.

The level to which the debate has descended was summed up by Cameron, who denounced the concept of an attendance allowance as “sign in and bugger off”. This supremely infelicitous outburst glosses over the fact that, at present, the system does not even oblige MPs to turn up in the first place.

And Corporal Clegg hasn’t covered himself in glory either. His reason for rejecting the allowance idea? It’s too much like the EU. Yes, the leader of the only solidly pro European party in the Commons is using the expenses debate to engage in Euro bashing. Er, hello?

Meanwhile, the barrage of FOI requests continues. The benefit from any fallout, on balance of probabilities, will generally favour opposition parties, if only because of the comparative numbers of MPs. But it only needs someone to unearth another Conway or Chichester and Young Dave will find himself in the crosshairs once more.

Blaming Pa Broon for that may not be easy.

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