« Tories emphasise police reform, lower taxation and help for new parents on 'momentum Sunday' | Main | David Cameron to unveil latest report from David Willetts' childhood inquiry »


I am utterly disgusted with the zero MPs.

We have bed blockers damaging the party's image. We seem to have had a very bad generation of circa 60 yr old MPs who lead us into our worst election results, lowest ratings and nearly split the party.

Let us hope that their Associations deselect them.

If some bed blockers don't disclose their expenses early-mid april we need a way of purging them.

Delighted to see your defence of Julian Brazier against The Sunday Times. it won't redress the slur of course but at least the blogosphere gives offended folk the chance to fight back without waiting on the old media to consent.

Is Barbara Follet being purged?
Didn't Peter Oborne interview her anout the taxpayer paying for a London residence, even though they already had another London home.
Don't suppose Dacre will be interested in that.

And let's not forget Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper who a few months ago, were shown to be profiting from their own mini-scam.

Surprised that they haven't been mentioned yet.

"nothing too dodgy" re Bob Spink's arrangements? Surely you mean very suspect.

Surely the constituency party has a role to play in sorting out the bed-blockers.
With salaries that lots of their constituents and constituency party members can only dream about, the sheer greed of some of our MPs is on a par with a piranha feeding frenzy. This mess must be cleaned up. They must be made stop putting their granny out to work. And I thought child labour had been abolished in the nineteenth century. A motorist might well drive along a road obeying the speed limit ("I have done nothing wrong"), but, in wet or freezing conditions, is still being reckless

Totally disagree with Alex Deane. If this approach is adopted generally those MPs who behave honestly will be able to show that 'they're not all the bloody same' and those who don't will have to go and find something else to do. Personally I think the Wintertons should be deselected and that Conway should stand down as an MP straightaway even though this will cause the party a problem. His interview 'Ive done nothing wrong' (really well why did you apologise then?) shows him to be so arrogant that he's lost touch with reality.

Malcolm Dunn "....shows him to be so arrogant that he's lost touch with reality."

That is the problem, some of these MPs are just arrogant and have lost touch.

But when an Association moves to persuade them to move on, like the case of Patrick Cormack, CCHQ and the Whips do not help the process.

What it needs is for the Chief Whip or Party Chairman to actively engage in career management of all MPs that are 60+. They need to review with them what they are going to do in the next 7 years, as that encompasses the rest of this parliament and the next.

The root of the problem is that no one owns their career management apart from themselves.

The Wintertons are obviously making arrangements for their retirements and as Sir Nicholas will be 72 at probable date of next election and Ann 69, it's probably a good idea for them to do so, though not at taxpayers expense.

There is a need in Parliament for experience and I'm not keen on kicking out MPs on grounds of age but there is a danger of complacency and comfort. Too many of the classes of 74, 79, 83 and 87 (and in some cases even earlier) don't have a hunger for power, for change. They are the doughty survivors of the cull of 1997, the ones in the safest seats, who are most obdurately against their comfortable existences being upset.

This whole affair is another sorry example of how the misguided attempt by MPs to promote "transparency" just causes the public to become suspicious over innocent matters, rather than reassured about propriety.

First, the Conway affair. There was criticism in the weekend newspapers about Sir George Young's apparent reluctance to recommend suspension for Conway. But of course Sir George was correct to be reluctant, and I can't understand how it was for the Commons to suspend Conway at all. MPs are provided with funds for researchers. No-one audits the quality and diligence of researchers. We have no objective basis whatever for suggesting that the research support provided by Conway's sons was any worse (or better) than that provided by other Commons researchers.

This isn't to say that it's fine for him to have hired a son that did nothing. But it's a matter for the Party or his constituents to form a judgement about whether his research support allowed him to do a satisfactory job as an MP (and I note, in passing, that I'm not aware of any complaints about his case work). It isn't a matter for the Commons. Whatever next? Will we start suspending MPs if they hire researchers without enough A levels? Or if their researchers regularly clock off at 5pm to beat the evening rush? I don't accept that the Conway error is anything to do with the Commons authorities. For him to have been suspended in this way seems to me to be an attack on democracy. His constituents elected him to sit in the Commons. It is not for others to deny that to him simply because they dislike the diligence of his staff.

Next, the more general issue. Where has it got us, all this business of trying to be more and more transparent? Must we see absolutely everything MPs spend their money on, Ben Wallace-style, down to the nearest £1? Do we really want our MPs wasting their time on accounting for such trivia? I thought they might have more important things to do - like holding the Executive to account, or complaining about all the legislation that comes from Europe? Why do we pander to these pointless and corrosive attacks on our politicians, when we all know perfectly well that our politicians are not even slightly corrupt.

Look. Politicians have all kinds of faults. Their key one is vanity - they want it to be *them* that makes the world a better place. They are also busybodies, inclined to interfere in all sorts of matters best left to others. So let's attack them for these things - things over which one might have genuine political differences.

I like politics. And this "sleaze" stuff isn't politics. It's the stuff of tabloid tittle-tattle, about as edifying as knowing whom Ashley Cole has been betraying his woman with. It belongs in the gutter, and we should *not* assist the tabloid press in dragging us all down there.

Our senior politicians need to stand up more for our MPs. The press is invasive, and its inuendo is destructive. What will happen in the end is that everyone will become so bored with "corrupt politician" stories that we shall cease to pay attention when some genuine case of true corruption does turn up.

I like politics. But this stuff is pathetics, and we should leave it alone.

No, we absolutely shouldn't leave it alone.If there was no corruption there wouldn't be stories but as Conway proved there is. In any other job Conway would have been fired immediately and probably would be facing criminal proceedings, instead if it hadn't been for the work of the press he would be facing 10 days suspension! If you really want to turn people off politics Andrew Lillico, keep making the argument that MPs should be 'protected' when their honesty is questioned. I sincerely doubt that you will get much support for this view either here or in the wider world.

Andrew Lilico. Mr Conway accepted the verdict of the Committe, he then claimed and continues to claim he did nothing wrong. He can't both accept and reject the verdict.

His acceptance was on he floor of the Houise therefore I take that as the truth. Therefore it is a genuine case of misuse of tax payers funds, true corruption of the body politic. He deserves the badge of sleaze.

As for your comment "Do we really want our MPs wasting their time on accounting for such trivia?" well they are happy enough to list their expenditure to get their expenses paid so do that already. We all do when claiming expenses. I'm sure a clever researcher or secretary can put together an excel spreadsheet, note claims and receipts and provide them at regular intervals - normal people with jobs requiring long hours do, the taxman demands the detail.

Malcolm and Ted,

First, I am not attempting to defend Derek Conway - hiring your sons in this way is bad politics, having been caught leaves him as an electoral liability, and unless he shows a real appetite for redemption and does something really spectacular between now and the next election he's probably unelectable and should be dropped. I was defending Sir George Young's reluctance to do more to him, criticising the suspension handed out to him, and defending the principle of representative democracy.

This is connected to the great confusion in Malcolm's comment (and in most of the press comment on this). Malcolm says: "In any other job Conway would have been fired immediately and probably would be facing criminal proceedings". But this is blatently untrue, and represents a total misreading of what an MP is.

An MP is *not* an employee of the House of Commons. Equally, an employee is *not* an employee of "the taxpayer". An MP is not even an employee of his constituents - of them he is a *representative*. If we want a world-of-employment analogy for an MP, it would be that an MP is a small businessmen, providing a service of "representation" to his consumers - his constituents. How he provides that service is an internal organisational matter.

Now, of course, in these days of "ethical consumption" hs consumers might decide that, even if the service he provides is good (which appears to have been the case with Conway) they don't like the way he organises his small business - e.g. they might not like it if he makes his staff work too long hours, or hires his relatives as his staff. But their recourse, then, is to cease to "purchase" (i.e. not to vote for him).

Now, as it happens, an MP is also typically a franchise-holder, in Conway's case he is a Conservative franchise-holder. And as with any other brand, the Conservative Party might decide that it doesn't want his conduct sullying their brand any more.

All this is fine. Withdraw the whip. Vote him out. But an MP is *not* an employee of anyone. Thinking of MPs as such leads us to completely mis-represent their role, and to think all kinds of odd things about them - such as that they should not have outside interests ("for in any other job you wouldn't be allowed to do three jobs at once"), that they should work standard hours ("no-one else is expected to work 4pm to 10.30pm"), that they should not have long summer breaks ("I don't get three months off - why should they?"), that they should not ultimately be responsible for their own pay, and so on.

An MP is not an employee. An MP is a representative of his constituents.

I discussed the Conway affair with my local MP on Saturday. He told me that the view of the Parliamentary Party was that "The Boss" had come out of the Conway affair well, and had acted decisively. He also said that Conway had been completely in the wrong, and that his actions reflected badly on every MP.

I must say I found his response both genuine and refreshing. You would not have heard it 15 years ago, that is for sure. Times are changing and the Conservative Party and the overwhelming majority of its members demonstrated last week that we will not to put up with this sort of thing any longer.

That is not sactimony, or kangaroo court justice. It is basic decency.

"But an MP is *not* an employee of anyone."

Yes, I agree Andrew Lilico and much as I denigrate Conway for the way he has behaved, I do think that to treat MPs (and, incidentally, MEPs...) as employees that can be ordered around is quite unacceptable. MPs pay is actually quite low when you think about what they do for the money and that really they are equivalent to at least director level people in the outside world! They should be granted a little more respect sometimes by the public.

You do write some guff Andrew.

If an individual MP's income was generated directly from the pockets of his 'consumers' (voters) voluntarily then you might have a case, but as it stands, with pay rises, pensions etc set as a fixed national level for the whole group, they are clearly employees of the State.

Sorry Chad you are writing the guff - Parliament is sovereign, MPs are answerable to none but themselves and their electors at election time. They choose their pay scales, their pensions, they make the rules.

Oh and BTW latest (post Conway) poll is 40:31:17 - so Cameron's quick response seems to have been rewarded.

LoL. OK Ted!

Sorry got to get back to the real world away from you wonks...

"The Wintertons are obviously making arrangements for their retirements and as Sir Nicholas will be 72 at probable date of next election and Ann 69, it's probably a good idea for them to do so, though not at taxpayers expense."

It strikes me that the Wintertons are the Parliamentary Party equivalent of a certain well-known husband and wife on the voluntary side of the Party - also of retirement age - who seem to feel that their "raison d'etre" is to constantly carp and criticise the way things are done in the Party and complain about a "lack of democracy"! Sadly of course there is no "retirement age" in the voluntary Party....

Have you seen the POPULUS POLL. Don't panic.

Good news.
CON 40 [+3]
LAB 31 [-2]
LD 17 [-2]

POST Conway!!!

Andrew Lilico

Agree with what you say regarding MPs not being employees but would say that there is an additional role an MP has to those of peoples representative & party franchise holder which is part of that corporation that is the House of Commons.

The primary role is MP and as electors have shown through their repeated election of Lionel de Rothschild in 1847, 1849, 1852 until finally Jews were allowed in the House in 1858, or a century later the voters of Bristol South East in returning the equally invalid Anthony Wedgewood Benn, the House itself must bend to the choices of the electorate eventually. So expulsion from the HoC is and must remain a rarely used sanction.

However the HoC is of itself an entity and as a corporate body should lay down rules on behaviour and process which take regard of what is required to operate as is needed but taking regard of the primacy of the electors wishes. As a body it has control of taxation and votes to its members the means for them to do their job. it should operate as transparently and openly in its dealings with its electors as it can and needs the means to punish transgressions. This does not IMO mean that it should be able to unseat a member but I would like to see it able to impeach and send to trial MPs if necessary.

Withdrawal of the whip is again something that should be rarely undertaken - it should IMO follow personal misbehaviour rather than the more often imposed sanction for party discipline. Major's withdrawal of the whip from the Eurosceptics over Maastricht was a foolish error but Cameron was right to do so in Conway's case.

I'm aware Andrew that MPs are not employees of anyone although they are supposed to be the servants of their constituents. That does not excuse the behaviour of some MPs or the fact that Conway's behaviour would have resulted in his instant dismissal.The behaviour of the Wintertons is also a disgrace (why did they not pay into the trust with their own money rather than fleece the tax payer?) which should at least merit their deselection.
Sally,I do respect many MPs and MEPs, none more than the excellent Philip Hollobone,sadly there are several that deserve no respect at all.

Oh yippee! Thanks Northernhousewife!!


Experience has taught me that it is unwise to EVER criticise the the honourable members for Congleton and Macclesfield on this site. Sort of agree with you though....

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker