BBC1's Question Time didn't go well for Eric Pickles last night. He was defending MPs' second allowances and didn't do a good job. PoliticsHome recorded the grisly details.
ConHome is a BIG fan of the new Party Chairman but last night was something of a train wreck.
It's vital that the Conservative Chairman and the wider Tory Party understand the level of public anger towards the political class. It's also necessary that MPs show a lead in preparing the way for cut backs in the public sector.
I'm about to lose favour with every Tory MP but there is no way that MPs can keep their pay and their allowances while the public sector is being slimmed down.
I have already suggested a temporary* 5% cut in MPs' pay. I suggest David Cameron announces that ministers take a 10% pay cut for the duration of the next Parliament. Mark Field MP has called for a one-third reduction in MPs' own pension benefits.
Conservatives have to get in the lead on this one. The private sector - families and businesses - are already feeling the pain. The new rich of the public sector need to share that pain. The political class cannot be exempt.
* I emphasis "temporary" because there is a good case for MPs' pay to go up but that's out of the question in the current economic circumstances. Iain Martin has called for a reduction in the number of MPs as a way of cutting the cost of politics. A reduction could be accompanied - in, say five years' time - with a big review of remuneration of MPs. I agree with Iain (with apologies to John Leonard) but a reduction isn't going to happen quickly. David Cameron needs to communicate it understands the severity of the economic situation by pledging to act now.