There have been few friendships in Westminster politics that have lasted as long as the mutual admiration between the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, and Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries. Staines’ tame gofer, the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, is believed to be particularly close to her.
But it seems this could all be about to end over the subject of MPs’ pay, a matter where The Great Guido is in the van with the Remuneration Taliban. The Fawkes blog is having no truck with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s recommendation that Honourable and Right Honourable Members should enjoy an 11% pay rise in 2015, as part of a wider package of changes.
Indeed, only last week the Fawkes folks observed “IPSA seem to be taking the approach that they have to come to some sort of deal with MPs; that if MPs agree not to fiddle their expenses, sign up to a more reasonable expenses regime, increase their contribution towards their gold-plated pensions and give up their resettlement payments, then they can have a pay rise”. And their conclusion?
“This is a false offer. There is absolutely nothing to stop IPSA toughening up on expenses and pensions and ditching the resettlement grant with no pay rise sweetener attached”. No equivocation there, then. This is poles apart from the line taken by the fragrant Nadine, who has been given space in yesterday’s Mail On Sunday to tell that a pay rise is just what she and her colleagues deserve.
“We're public servants who work 80 hours every week... we DESERVE £74,000: Nadine Dorries wades into MPs' pay rise row” announced the headline. It was different for party leaders: “Each of the three main party leaders enjoys a household income of around half-a-million pounds, thanks to their own six-figure salaries, but thanks also to the even higher six-figure salaries of their wives”.
And it was “not an increase, it’s a realignment to be covered by a reduction in expenses and a less favourable pension arrangement ... Ipsa chief, Sir Ian Kennedy, who is paid £100,000 a year, stated that the new pay proposal ‘will not cost the taxpayer a single penny more’. Are the public angry about this proposal which isn’t going to cost anything?” she asked, expecting a favourable answer.
So now Ms Dorries and her former pals at the Fawkes blog are poles apart on the subject. Will we see them agree to disagree, or is a more serious split imminent? There was not so much as a peep from The Great Guido recently when the Sunday Mirror ran a serious of articles about her. It could be that this is, indeed, the end of a less than beautiful friendship.
Who will smear the critics in future? Or is Nadine eyeing the exit door come 2015?