David Cameron has just demanded an investigation into the allegations that former Cabinet ministers have discussed offers to lobby the government in return for considerable sums of money - up to £5,000 a day in the case of Stephen Byers.
Mr Cameron has just described the allegations being made as "shocking" and said it was "appalling" to hear former Labour ministers "trading off their power" and describing themselves as being like "a cab for hire".
He said that there needed to be a thorough investigation conducted by the House of Commons, but that the Prime Minister himself also needed to get to the bottom of the "very serious allegations about how this government behaves". Indeed, the Sunday Times report about Byers, for example, reports that he boasted about how phone calls on behalf of others to Lords Mandelson and Adonis had changed policy last year.
The Tory leader said that he had been fearing a scandal of this nature for some time; indeed, he made a speech promising to curb the power of lobbyists just last month.
Mr Cameron added that the situation was further evidence of a party which has been in government for too long and lost touch with why they are meant to be there.
In case you've not yet seen it, the following Sky News report begins with the shocking clips of the secretly-recorded conversation the undercover reporter had with Stephen Byers.
The tables are now reversed. It is Eric Pickles warning Tories that they face dismissal if they engage in dirty tricks campaigning. It is Labour - from the very top - that has deserted all claims to the moral high ground.
After the McBride emails you would have hoped that Labour would have learnt its lesson... but clearly not.
First Harriet Harman bracketed the Tories with the BNP in a fundraising email but she then took things to a new low during the Labour Party Conference when - completely dishonestly - she said that George Osborne wanted to replace a SureStart in every community with a lapdancing club. There is no other word for that than a lie. And a disreputable lie at that.
Gordon Brown has, of course, set the tone when it comes to honesty. His Porky Pies have been a feature of Westminster politics for some time. Remember his claim that he didn't look at opinion polls when he bottled an autumn 2007 election? In the last few months he attempted to claim that the choice at the election was between Tory cuts and Labour investment. He had to abandon the line after every journalist in Westminster told the Labour machine that it was unbelievable. A leak of Treasury papers to George Osborne proved the dishonesty of the Brown position. At the time Telegraph columnist Benedict Brogan wrote this devastating paragraph:
"Fascinating that the Shadow Chancellor has this morning accused the Prime Minister of lying and there isn’t a collective intake of breath. Do that in the House of Commons and even this Speaker will call you out. For one rt hon gentleman to challenge the integrity of another would once have provoked if not outrage then at least tut-tuts of disapproval. But here was George Osborne on the Today programme trumpeting his secret documents: “Gordon Brown has misled the public, he has misled the Commons, he was not telling the truth.” And if there is no reaction, it is because we have collectively come to the same view, that the Prime Minister cannot be trusted to tell us the truth. How depressing."
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The Mail on Sunday has an exclusive interview with Baroness Scotland's former housekeeper this morning.
Chris Grayling has issued this statement:
"This unedifying row just underlines why Baroness Scotland's position is now completely untenable. But it also raises huge question marks over the way the Home Office and the Prime Minister have handled the case. The Home Office rushed through an investigation without listening to all the evidence, and the Prime Minister exonerated Lady Scotland before the housekeeper had even been questioned. This is increasingly looking like an attempted whitewash that has gone badly wrong."
Conservatives are convinced that this story is highly damaging to Labour and cannot believe that Gordon Brown has allowed the row to rumble along into the start of Labour's Conference week. They believe that the combination of ministerial incompetence, illegal immigration and insight into a politicians' home life is very damaging for Labour.
Chris Grayling has today written to Home Secretary Alan Johnson demanding that the investigation into the matter be re-opened so that Baroness Scotland's former housekeeper can be interviewed. He said:
“The more we hear about what happened last week the clearer it becomes that this was an investigation rushed through under fierce political pressure and it has failed to do the job properly. The borders agency could not have possibly been in a position to mount a full investigation without interviewing Baroness Scotland’s housekeeper. It looks very likely that all of this was rushed through to avoid disrupting the Labour Party conference.”
And here is the text of his letter to Alan Johnson:
Labour HQ is sending out recruitment emails which bracket the Conservative Party with the BNP.
A recruitment letter passed to ConHome quotes "Brendan from Durham" explaining why he joined Labour:
Harriet Harman signs the letter.
After the last week's dishonesty from Brown we now have this despicable tactic.
The Telegraph doesn't hold back this morning from launching a massive attack on the "abuse" of expenses by MPs of all parties:
"One of the great scandals of modern public life."
"Sustained abuse of public funds."
"The extent of rapacity is astonishing."
At the heart of the abuse is the way MPs use their second homes allowance. They nominate their London home as their 'second' home, charge the taxpayer for its renovation, then 'flip' the nomination to their constituency home and charge the taxpayer for its renovation. Alistair Darling, The Telegraph tells us, has changed his second home designation four times in as many years.
In electoral terms, this story will hurt the Government most. Internal Labour polling says the abuse of expenses is hurting Brown more than any other. It's the Cabinet that gets nearly all of The Telegraph's attention this morning - their abuses are splashed across pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The party that styles itself as the party of the working class is always going to be hurt most, too. The other parties are not innocent, however. The Telegraph says MPs from all parties are implicated by their expenses exclusive. We all paid £1,775 for Farrow and Ball paint for the renovation of a Tory shadow minister's country home, for example. One wealthy Tory MP charged £10 for a bag of manure. Sh*t.