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And I'm supposed to care what Portillo thinks because............ . . . . ?

Not in anyway a comment on Mrs Spelman, but why doesn't Portillo quit?

We are sick of you, run away to some far off land where nobody knows you, become a hermit, win a talent contest and then fade into obscurity, join an FBI witness protection programme, go look for the holy grail, anyhing that makes you disappear for a long time.

WE ARE NOT INTERESTED IN A SINGLE WORD YOU SAY. Every breath you take in public, is a breath of Oxygen for our opponents.

The Telegraph has confirmed that the whistle-blowing secretary is Sally Hammond, wife of Stephen Hammond MP, shadow transport minister - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/conservative/2200792/Caroline-Spelman-%27Nannygate%27-scandal-threatens-Conservative-rift.html.

Stephen Hammond will not allow Sally to be smeared by Team Cameron to save Spelperson's neck.

I called for Spelman to go right at the start because she had clearly made 2 political errors of judgement. After that the errors pile up.

That said I am very disappointed with the internal party discipline at Westminster.

The Whips should know who is at fault on that and I hope this is the last time we hear of a whips conversation with a party worker being reported in the media. If the conversation reported by Crick is true then one of the 2 people in that conversation has talked and again the whips need to act. Either the whip or the secy would have to be fired. Deny or fire.

HF you're right - whipping (probably of both varieties) is, they say, an activity best carried out in private! One should certainly never be aware of the tactics which are used. Whichever of them let their conversation become the slightest bit public should at least face a carpeting from the Chief!

Sally Hammond and Stephen Hammond MP should be ashamed. I cannot believe this is a resigning matter for Caroline Spelman.
If she does then Stephen Hammond should do the decent thing and step down as shadow transport minister.

Why should the Hammonds be ashamed? It's Spelman who seems to have misused public funds. She is the one who should be ashamed. Managed to take the shine off a stunning by-election result for the Party. That's a hell of a useful contribution for a Party chairman.

There is no reason for the Hammonds to be ashamed. Sally Hammond and the nanny's father have said that she did little or no secretarial work. The Telegraph has reported that the nanny had no secretarial experience or training. This BBC report is even more damning. If the reports are true, Spelman has lied and CCHQ officials have been involved in a cover-up. Heads must role.

It is you who should be ashamed that the Hammonds should pay the price for telling the truth. "Robert", with his nasty and sleazy smears, should be ashamed of himself.

Can Portilo please quit his role on This Week, a programme I otherwise enjoy?!

I forgot to include the link to the BBc report - http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2008/06/caroline-spel-1.html?cid=120303600#comment-120303600.

"Mrs Hammond could not understand why the MP had so little money available for office expenditure.

She was shocked to find that much of the annual Commons allowance was being paid to Mrs Spelman's nanny, Tina Haynes.

As far as she knew, Ms Haynes did little or no secretarial work to justify this.

Mrs Hammond took her complaint to Peter Ainsworth - then, as now, a member of the Conservative shadow cabinet, and for whom Mrs Hammond had once worked.

He referred the case to the then chief whip, James Arbuthnot, who was worried by what he was told, and told Mrs Spelman to stop paying her nanny from Parliamentary money at once.....

On the day we broke the story we rang the nanny - Ms Haynes - and asked her what she did for Mrs Spelman.

She told us she "was working for her as a nanny" and did not do political stuff. She just answered the odd phone call, "took messages" and "passed them on to Caroline", and occasionally posted letters.

Conservative Central Office then came up with a different version of what happened and told the BBC that Ms Haynes - a qualified nanny - was employed for 30 hours a week in 1997-98, as a constituency secretary on the Parliamentary payroll.

At the same time, it said, she also worked as Mrs Spelman's nanny, but she did this for no pay.

The following morning Mrs Spelman made a statement backing up this story.

And later in the day Central Office helped Ms Haynes to put out a statement which claimed: "During the period of 1997 to 1998, I had two roles; one helping Mrs Spelman with childcare and another providing secretarial help to her as an MP.

Mixed messages

The Conservative version of events soon began to unravel.

First they admitted that the unusual arrangement with the nanny had gone on for two years, not one.

Then it became clear that - at least at the start - Ms Haynes had been working at the family home in Knockholt, Kent.

This was further away from the constituency than even her Westminster office.

Then Mrs Spelman's claim that there was no other constituency office was challenged, since documentation shows that her current constituency office over the border in Solihull has always been listed as her office in official directories.

Separately, Janet Parry told Newsnight that when she did a stint of work experience over the summer of 1997, administration work was already being handled by the Solihull office at 2 Manor Road in Solihull. "

It's Robert who should be ashamed. He has too little judgement to detect a whips office operation when he sees one.

How likely is it that Sally Hammond ramped this up anytime in the last nine years? Not very as it would obviously harm Stephen Hammond MP, her husband.

Sally did the right thing nine years ago - reporting suspect behaviour discretely in order the protect the party. It doesn't look like she's stirred it since. The latest news has clearly come from the usual channels who, I would guess, want to axe Spelman following Henley. Looks like there's a strategy here.

I like Caroline Spelman I do not like Portillo nor Hammond so I am afraid that for me this is a no brainer. Sack Hammond for treachery and force Portillo to resign from the party.

David Cameron is in a powerful position to clear up the murky world of expenses (swindling some people would say)amongst MPs and of course MEPs.
Taking a tough stand against those who are 'pushing their luck' would shame the other parties into doing likewise. Not only would this clean up party politics a little. It would also save the taxpayer money and act as model for the rest of the country to whom parliamentarians are so fond of preaching.
This may well mean that some of Cameron's colleagues suffer as a result as well as other parties.
It is a price well worth paying and would act as a deterrent to potential chancers.
It's over to you Dave!

So it's OK for the public to buy 2nd houses for the MPs to keep and however much on food & furnishings as they are expenses while away doing their MP duties.
... but to pay for someone to look after their child for a while is suddenly a hanging offence even 10 years after it stopped?

John reveals the true face of Cameroon modernisation. He calls for Stephen Hammond is supposed to be sacked for the actions of his wife. It is assumed that his wife does not have a a brain of her own and was acting on his instructions. The reality is that Stephen Hammond, first elected in 2005, was not even an MP when his wife shopped Spelman. The smearing sexist face of the Tory modernisers is deeply unpleasant.

Robert should note that Michael Portillo is not a member of the Conservative Party and cannot be forced to resign from it. These modernisers are ignorant as well as malicious.

Norm Brainer, the big issue is that Spelman appears to have lied and and then tried, with the aid of party officials, to cover up her misdeeds.

There has been no rebuttal of Sally Hammond's reported allegations. If the BBC and Telegraph reports are wrong, Spelman can sue.

People should be careful about what they say about the guilt of people on all sides of this debate please. Let's stick to what we know.

I know this looks fishy. What looks fishy is treated that way, whatever advocates for the two sides may say. This means that Spelman should resign, if she's innocent, there's plenty of time for her to get back into the shadow or real cabinet.

Editor, I have only posted the unrebutted reports in the media. Please note the nasty comments by "robert" and "John" calling for Stephen Hammond to be sacked. You could check whether they have CCHQ IP addresses.

re Michael Portillo. he was the first real moderniser. unfortunately the Party didn't recognise how desperate its situation was until many, many years later.
re Caroline Spelman. OK - so she goes - do we really think the feeding frenzy will stop?
for goodness sake. we either want human beings - ie flawed individuals - to represent us; or we may as well just select conformist robots. like Labour did in the '90s. and lest we forget, that's how we ended up with Hazel Blears in the Cabinet.

Libertarian at 9.37

I'm sure they do . . .

It's always easier to lash our at an innocent man than answer serious charges. It won't work easily here as Stephen Hammond MP is widely known to be decent, straight and honest.

MPs' expenses are a highly emotional and sensitive issue just now. There are no doubt other cases waiting to emerge from all parties.

The sensible thing for Caroline Spelman - who must be regarded as being innocent unless shown to be otherwise - is to stand down voluntarily as party chairman until the matter is cleared up.

MPs incur quite legitimate expenses, as do business people. The latter must account for every last penny of their expenses, backed up by receipts, and MPs should have to do the same.

What might be even better is for all constituency expenses to be paid for by the relevant Party, not the MP.

I have absolutely no knowledge of what is the truth here; the problem is that Caroline Spelman has become the story, rather than Conservative politics.

Since the problem has not gone away, but has in fact escalated, Spelman must do the decent thing and stand down - and that means permanently because:

Whatever the facts, the issue has been extremely ineptly handled and speaks badly of her competence as Party Chairman.

I'm sorry to say this, as Mrs Spelman has been infinitely better than that tieless, shoeless and clueless *&^%$££ Maude, but if CCHQ and Mrs Spelman know something that we still don't, then now is the time to go.

It is difficult to understate the damage these sleaze episodes cause. Labour know this, the BBC attack dogs like Crick know this and the public are beginning to absolutely despise the emerging political class that cannot keep its hands off the petty cash.

I understand and appreciate the issue of vexatious complaints. But when we get into the territory of rolling revelations then enough is enough.

She paid her nanny to nanny out of expenses. Any pretense otherwise is nonsense. Thousands of others across the country would love to be able to do the same, but they can't. It's not legal. She should resign her seat.

Strange is it not. Cameron rids his front bench of a man who is highly respected Mr. MERCER very quickly (much the same as Boris did last week) BUT when it comes to showing his real determination to cut out the sleeze, Cameron is wanting.

No MEP's are not being deselected! in spite of all the evidence. and Spelman should have resigned when this story first broke. It can only get worse!

I said at the time she should go. i said at the time that Cmeron should have sacked her.

I have said all along that cameron is NOT a leader! sadly these events are proving my point.


Strange is it not. Cameron rids his front bench of a man who is highly respected Mr. MERCER very quickly (much the same as Boris did last week) BUT when it comes to showing his real determination to cut out the sleeze, Cameron is wanting.

No MEP's are not being deselected! in spite of all the evidence. and Spelman should have resigned when this story first broke. It can only get worse!

I said at the time she should go. i said at the time that Cameron should have sacked her.

I have said all along that cameron is NOT a leader! sadly these events are proving my point.


Cameron needs to show some firm leadership now, the expenses stories need to be quashed, there is a premium to be gained from looking like the guy trying to clean up politics.

Basher Davis for chairman!

(O.K. Eric Pickles then.)

I yield to no-one in my disappointment at Portillo for what he said about Boris Johnson, but, whatever his motives, he is right on this. The most pertinent thing that has now come out is the reason why Mrs Spelman came to consult the Chief Whip. We had been given the impression before that she sought advice on her own initiative.

Your editorial comment said:
"We stand by our view that Mrs Spelman will be exonerated and that she should not step down. To do so would only encourage vexatious complaints against MPs and other public figures."

There are only complaints because the whole stinking question of MPs' expenses is seeing the light of day. If people have played fast and loose with the system because they thought no-one would ever know that so much of their personal expenditure (at a "second home") was paid by the taxpayers, then they should have thought of that before they started treating public money as their own. If a few heads roll in the process, well fine. They deserve it.

I post as someone who knows and likes many MPs and who, before the Conway affair, defended their probity. Those of us outside the Westminster village have had our eyes opened in recent months and you cannot be lenient on people because it might set off a witch hunt. If there are witches, we need to hunt them out.

I wouldn't get into a damaging squabble over it, although I strongly believe these expenses need to be cut back, and made transparent.

Caroline Spelman appears to have done something which is not in the spirit of the rules, but could have happened fairly innocently, and ended it in 1999, after a rather more fraught ordering than the gloss on the story.

But there is an investigation under way, and I guess that if Caroline Spelman wasn't confident it was in the rules at the time, would have not asked for this.

Personally, I think Caroline Spelman has some very good ideas on housing (how to balance the demand for it against the pressures on the environment - and introduced a private members bill) and would be better back in that kind of job, and we need Eric Pickles to take over as Party Chairman anyway.

This is hardly the worst expenses case, but life isn't always fair, and if they're not confident this can be settled fairly quickly one way or the other, it may need to cost her her job as party chairman.

We really cannot afford to have sleaze back on the agenda - it is, I think, the one thing that could blow it for us now, more than key policy areas where I think people have already decided to let Labour go. But our ratings will plunge if we get expenses stories month after month.

On the occasion of a famous by election win, pushing the Labour Party into fifth place and derailing the LibDem by election juggernaut, this is a distraction we could do without. She has to go until the matter has been clarified. Anyone else who has done something similar should own up quickly, explain why it happened and repay the money.

She has lied and lied and lied over this.
It is absolutely unbelievable.

How dare anyone say on here that the Hammonds are at fault. They are, hello??? telling the truth.

We MUST get rid of people like CS as MPs.
Is it too much to expect that the chairman of our party is straight with money? Dear God.

Its really quite amazing that after his ‘soul searching’ Portillo still comes across ‘bitter and twisted’. I’ve not approved of everything Cameron is doing, but one thing is for sure, Portillo isn’t a patch on Cameron. Let’s hope Portillo’s desperation for the media limelight disappears as quickly as his political career.

I will say first that obviously if Mrs. Spelman has breacvhed parliamentary rules, well then she has to take the consequences, but what I do find somewhat strange is the role that Sally Hammond plays in all this. Is Mrs. Hammond a private investigator, or perhaps she had some role as a CCHQ informer?? If she did it hasn't been very successful!

Informing on people both inside and outside politics, was part of the 'oil' that kept the Communist regime running for so long, but it always leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

So, whatever reason Mrs. Hammond had for her action, it only accentuates what everyone is very anxious to emphasise - that there need to be tighter regulations and more transparency in the job specification regarding politicians, and we need it NOW, not in the next session, or the next government, because it concerns ALL politicians across the board!

Spelman appears to have misled the public over the nature of the nanny issue with conflicting stories. That is undermining public trust in MPs and the Conservative party. She should, at the very least, stand down from her position until an investigation determines the truth of the matter, at which point the situation, and by extension the solution, will be clearer.

We need our MPs to have integrity.

An MP who deliberately claims the cost of their nanny as a justifiable political expense should be treated with contempt, and prosecuted for fraud.

This is an opportunity by Mrs Spelman and David Cameron to do exactly the right thing. She should step down and today. Kill the awful weekend headlines and Wiggy Crick's nastiness would also be kicked into touch.

for her own sake she needs to go as quickly as they can get a statement together.

at this rate, she'll be deselected locally as well.

and on reflection, maybe MPs found to have misrepresented their expenses should be barred from the HoC? all parties obviously.

Having lost Conway,Davis,Spink,McGrath,Hastilow,Lardner etc to lose one more would hardly be noticed especially after Labour losing it's deposit in Henley.

I like many others I’m sure can vividly remember the sleaze that turned people away in droves in the 90's.

If the apologists on this Blog are anything to go by it seems they have not learned very much.

I do not except "snouts in the trough" where my tax pounds are concerned and nor does most of my countrymen/women, it bothers me that some "so called" Tories seem to think that MP's helping themselves to tax pounds "because they can" can convincingly be brushed aside as not important or worryingly "par for the course with human beings"

This blind acceptance and bluster seems more in accordance with Nulab failings.

Right now I am trying to come around to voting Tory again at the next general election. Like many others I want NuLab out of Government but I will not vote Tories in just to get Nulab out, I would rather spoil my ballot paper!

I rember the day when Conservative MPs had to resign for asking questions for which they were paid a small amount.Now we have a privately sponsored shadow front bench.This worries me far more than the Chairlady's nanny.

"There are likely to be more developments with British MEPs and their allowances this weekend and early next week. Watch this space..."

from the blog of Bruno Waterfield which I linked from the eureferendum blog.

oink oink

All the fiddlers from every party should immediately be thrown out of their cushy jobs and be stripped of their pensions, these people preach to the rest of us, if these practices were revealed in a normal buisness the police would soon be asking questions.

All of this the day after we abso-bloody-utely slaughter Brown and the Labour party at Henley.

When are the Tory party, members, and MPs, going to rid ourselves of the death wish that has been so apparent in the Party since May 2nd 1997?

Portillo? I can't rid myself of the memory of Election Night 1997. Begone, let's have done with you - for ever!

MPs expenses? Is it too much to expect that in the present climate, and with all the furore in the public, that all MPs make sure they are squeaky clean, right back to the day they entered the H of C? For pity's sake, it ain't exactly rocket science. And if they are not? Confession is good for the soul - and the poll ratings! There is joy in Heaven at one sinner that repenteth....

Frankly who cares what Portillo says. He has had his day and nobody listens to him.

If Caroline's story doesn't stack up, she should go quickly so save embarrassment.

The day the party is bullied into decisions by Mr Crick and the BBC Newsnight programme is the day we lose the forthcoming election.
The real villains are the Hammonds with the betrayal of Mrs Spelman.
The party has to be seen to be decent and the destruction of Spelman will not win votes as some postings seem to imply.

I do not feel easy when Portillo pronounces, but I do not personally care for the Spellpeople. I hope she gets exonerated and then retires to the backbenches. She may be a better Party Chairman than Maude but that does not say much.

Robert @ CCHQ 16.20

The party has to be seen to be decent, so your suggestion is . . . let's all kill the whistleblower?

Er, hello??? last time I looked the Hammonds weren't fiddling their expenses, stealing from the taxpayer or lying their heads off.

And neither, I am soooooooo sure, is Caroline Spelman. For she is an honourable person; so are they all; all honourable people !!

Hasn't she gone yet?

It would be better for her to go on the grounds that she's a bloody useless Party Chairman. ABS!

Portillo seems to be a thorn in the Conservatives' side, but is very useful to the BBC and the rest of the anti-conservative liberal/left media.

That Portillo and the BBC are out to get Caroline Spelman are added reason for her to stand firm and the party to stand behind her until and unless the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards finds she did wrong and doesn't exonerate her. I hope she doesn’t go before he reports.

If she broke the law and fiddled money she shouldn't merely step down, she should be prosecuted.

Bugger the party.

And again, for those who do not get it. BUGGER THE PARTY.

I don't want anything to do with a party of crooks and gangsters, and those who want to defend a crook just for 'the party' needs to consider if they really want to live in a banana republic.

If she was in any job other than that of politician she wouldn't merely be stepping down, she'd be be done by Inspector Knacker. "Flawed human beings", pffff. Rubbish. You wouldn't tolerate some chav stealing, so you shouldn't tolerate Caroline Spelman doing it either either.

Many others want nothing to do with thieves either, and therein lies the problem, and why zero tolerance of thieving should reign.

I am not a Tory Party or legal or financial expert. But reading through this story and blogs, there seems to be a number of inconsistencies and conflating of issues.
(1) Initially, it was deemed that it would be very unusual to investigate an offence of this nature that was more than 7 years old.
(2) The sums of money involved are large in themselves, but not large in comparison with other cases that would seem to be more deserving of investigation. This is not to say that investigation of this should stop when once started because muddy waters leave a nasty whiff behind them - but I find the emphasis on this particular case odd.
(3) The nanny did do some work over and beyond child-care that was useful to Praliamentary Constituency work, answering the phone and mailing letters - I do note there is no mention of typing them so cannot comment. So what is at debate is the rate of pay for those services, which were actually performed. Someone who worked for Mrs Spelman raised the issue that the rates seemed excessively high, it was reported to the appropriate first-line authority and dealt with in that the rate of pay to the nanny was decreased. Why then is this an ongoing issue? Some may argue, return of funds did not occur, I would argue that it would be a first and if you want to apply it there will be many such transfers taking place shortly.
(4) There seems to be a grouping of people who wish Mrs Spelman did not have the job she has, and and are conflating their dislike with the investigation, making much more of the issue than would seem reasonable in light of the facts that seem to exist at the moment. They have become hysterical and vindictive, traits which will serve no-one well. The Betsygate affair springs readily to mind. I was no fan of IDS as Party Leader, but really did feel there was a very nasty streak about, where malice was the driver rather than the facts. " However, it was accepted that there was an absence of definition of key terms meaning that members had no guidance to scope their two allowances. While the Commons standards committee argued that the arrangements “were not ideal” it stated that no rules had been broken". Perhaps the real culprit in all cases is the laziness of the House of Commons as a whole in allowing the continuance of "no guidance".
(5)This affair has become dominated by spin and while worthy of investigation in the particular to its conclusion now that it has started, its greater service may be to kickstart finally the complete overhaul of the expenses system and accounting so that the Honorable Members may have no shortage of guidance and the wicked stirrers may have a shortage of oxygen for their half-truths and disreputable tactics of calumny and stretched truths.

John, nice Julius Caesar quote.

Brutus too I believe? ;-)

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