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Thursday 27 June 2013

Nadine Dorries About Turn

What a difference four months makes: back in February, Mid Bedfordshire MP (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries reacted furiously to the news that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was investigating her claims for travel and subsistence. “Nadine Dorries threatens Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority after new allegations on expenses” reported the Independent.
The Spectator, normally more favourably disposed towards those of a right-leaning persuasion, told that “Nadine Dorries says Ipsa is ‘asleep on the bloody job’, but MPs’ pay and expenses will cause even more grief this year”. ITV News reported “Nadine Dorries vows to 'go after' expenses watchdog”. Yes, the fragrant Nadine was gunning for those who questioned her integrity.

Well, IPSA was not put off, and the investigation continued. And there were, to its credit, no leaks, hints or any kind of nudge-nudgery in the meantime. So what was the fuss over? Unity at Ministry Of Truth pored over the assembled Dorries expense Magnum Opi, crunched the numbers, and presented his conclusions, but there was no sign of blatantly improper conduct.

Meanwhile, there was the side-show of Ms Dorries’ fee for her controversial appearance on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here – the main controversy being that her going on the show led to the withdrawal of the Tory whip – which had not been declared. Unity was on the case once more, letting the world know about Averbrook Limited, the company Ms Dorries has now declared.

But the most significant news is today’s announcement that the fragrant Nadine is to stop claiming expenses, which kicked off with this sentence: “I can’t talk about the IPSA investigation until it reports other than to say that so far I am happy with the way the investigation has been conducted and I am looking forward to the report”. What happened to the vow to “go after” IPSA?

And will she really stop claiming expenses? All expenses? Well, not all expenses, it seems: “The cost of running the office, postage, staff salaries and constituency mileage will still be claimed”. What’s the difference? The most significant item appears to be the Dorries apartment in central London. So it’s not so much “working for free”, as “not claiming for an apartment as well”.

But fair play to Ms Dorries, it’s at least a positive gesture. So how will she manage? “I'm lucky because I've got personal support and can do that. I've got a great partner”. And how that works is her business (and his). But the move, coming before IPSA have announced the conclusions of their enquiries, suggests that she is anticipating a less than favourable outcome, and is trying to pre-empt it.

Because right now, everyone will be ready and waiting when IPSA reports.

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