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Get a grip. One of the most senior people in British politics stands accused of financial impropriety and you think the BBC should leading on the twitterings of "bishops" of the so-called "Church of England"?

I do think it's right that the proper process happens here. I'm all for being firm when needed, as DC was with the MEPs, where the breach was clear to anyone with eyes. But this seems different to me, and things need to be done in the proper fashion. That said, if it turns out she did anything wrong, I hope she has the good grace to resign from the SC, apologise, and pay the money back.

Spelperkin is a hopeless Chairperkin and should be replaced by The Big Eric but she deserves the chance to clear her name on this one. The Editors are correct to defend her innocence.

The prima facie case against Spelman is as clear as it was with Chichester. Even if she is reappointed later she has to go now.

It is the nanny's words and not Spelman's that are key. The nanny said her secretarial duties were extremely light.

Absolutely agree with you about the BBC. I don't recall them making such a fuss about Lee Jasper as they did about this.

We had them leading on Chichester, who at least 99.5% of the British public will never have heard of (frankly I doubt many within the Party had, I hadn't...) and now leading on this.

Caroline Spelman by all accounts acted correctly but wanted to make sure she was fully within the rules so brought the arrangement to a close having consulted within the Party.

This is absolutely nothing compared to the insidious Michael Martin affair, yet what do the BBC focus on?

I agree with most of what DC says, but I don't agree that the BBC is 'a great institution.' It's a rotten organisation from the core outwards, and we should privatise it if it can't manage to be impartial. In fact, we should privatise it anyway. I'm sure people would welcome not having to spend so much on a TV license each year.

Probably best for her not to oversee the anti-sleaze efforts by the party so long as she is being investigated.

Incidentally, where is the BBC story about those two Labour MPs who are funding their life insurance payments from their allowances?

Caroline Spelman is a decent woman who may have made a mistake. Don't throw her to the wolves and give her a chance to clear her name!

All those people pleading for her to be "given a chance" should think through the consequences: if the commissioner finds her guilty then Cameron suffers a huge personal blow, if the commissioner clears her then she can return. But there is no upside in letting her stay on now.

And there is no point in trying the "whaddabout" game. Lee Jasper was a minor if over-paid public official, not a cebinet minister of the government in waiting, whatever you think of the Keens no one has suggested they have broken any rules (and I bet they aren't the only ones with endowments or life assurance paid by the state either) and in any case - we need to deal with the case in hand.

Every minute of delay here will only make it worse - think of Derek Conway.

What were the arrangements from 1999 on?
No doubt the papers tomorrow will reveal how a ten year old arrangements has now surfaced.Is this a cash for story event?

Politicians, of all hues, are arrogant idiots if they think they can get away with ripping off the taxpayer with such obvious scams. DC must come down on these Spanish practices hard. Lame excuses simply won't wash with the electorate.

She put a stop to it after a very short period ten years ago, which frankly makes this ancient.

This is NOTHING compared to Harman's deputy leadership campaign scandal. Did the BBC lead with that? Did they *********.

Hardly a 'hanging' offence, that happened over 10 years ago but perhaps more importantly who leaked it. Michael Crick really seemed to be loving it to use Kevin Keegan's phrase, when disclosing all the details on Newsnight. It it had been the Labour party chairperson it would have been last item on and then only briefly.

PS for the political anoraks, Kevin Keegan was a footballer and football manager.

The tide is turning against such activities, excses and fake investigations. Any concerned for where the country goes next will recognise she must go now.

My opinion is on the blog linked from my name at the foot of this posting - but note Guido has chosen the word 'thief', and that to the name of the Chair of your party!

"Caroline Spelman is a decent woman who may have made a mistake. Don't throw her to the wolves and give her a chance to clear her name!"

Sad fact is that innocent or not, she is tainting us with the word "sleeze". We need to limit the damage by getting rid of her immediately. It's harsh if she's innocent but we have to be harsh to win.

she has stolen taxpayers money and the whip should be withdrawn

Blaming the BBC or Crick is silly. It might make you feel better, but it won't alter the reality.

It could be turned into a defining moment. If Cameron tells Spelman she has to go it would say, "I have zero tolerance, no one is above the law on my team". It would stun the political class. It would signal the best intentions and absolute determination.

If Dave dithers you risk re-contaminating the Tory brand with sleaze. The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner is inevitably going to rule against Caroline.

To leave her in charge of the anti-sleaze investigation of the MEPs would be farcical.

I'd be grateful if people did not use terms like "stolen". Nothing is proven yet. Innocent until proven otherwise please...

I disagree Guido. Of course the BBC should cover the story and I don't question Michael Crick's legitimate role in exposing this. But leading the Today programme? OTT imo.

I also think it's too much to require Caroline to step down. It would set a precedent whereby a suspension was required every time any kind of allegation was made and that could encourage a lot of malicious mischief-making and paralyse the frontbench.

She put a stop to it after a very short period ten years ago, which frankly makes this ancient.

This is NOTHING compared to Harman's deputy leadership campaign scandal. Did the BBC lead with that?

YES THEY DID!!! For days and days, until I was sick of hearing about it and hoping she'd just resign.

The hypocrisy of some posters on here beggars belief.

All this "give her a chance to clear her name", "it was a long time ago"... Did any of the people saying these things apply the same argument to Peter Hain? Or Peter Mandelson? Or David Blunkett? Or John Prescott?

I very much doubt it.

Why is it that Tories can do no wrong and will be proved innocent in time, while Labour MPs are guilty until proven innocent (by which time you hope the damage will be done and they'll have resigned)?

It's double standards of the highest order.

My view on this issue, as an unbiased observer - I've no idea whether Spelman has done anything wrong or not, but I think the editor is right to say she should not have to resign to clear her name as that would set a dangerous precedent. However, I seem to remember some people on here making exactly that call about Peter Hain last year....

And blaming the BBC is pathetic. The BBC is the envy of the world and you would be extremely foolish to destroy it.

The BBC is not biased. You lot are. That's the reality.

We do not need to await the Parliamentary report, Guido is right for two reasons.

1. She should not have paid her nanny from public funds. It does not pass the "smells right" test.

2. On having the error pointed out she did not repay the public funds involved.

In both instances she demonstrated poor political judgement and has brought the party's name into disrepute.

Therefore she has to go and go now.

That said she has also been a poor manager of the party's organisation. So she will be no great loss.

The rushing to judgment of many people on this site is distasteful.

As I have said before, she was a branch officer in my Kent constituency and her ascent to the House of Commons has caused nothing locally but incredulity about how one person can be so over-promoted.

This said, she deserves the chance to make her case. If she is exonerated, fine. If not, then she should behave honourably and resign from the Shadow Cabinet. Her career as an MP is a matter for the voters of Meriden.

The problem with Conservatives complaining about the BBC is that our case is weakened by condoning the two clear errors of judgement that she has made.

Sack her as party chairman and then complain to the BBC is the right sequence.

The judgement of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should be for whether she is a fit person to remain as an MP.

I do not want my party chaired by someone who has such poor political judgement.

Mark Hudson

It is for Cameron to decide now if she is a fit person for the Shadow Cabinet. Not to wait more days and extend the damage in the media to our party.

The Commissioner for Standards is all about her fitness to be an MP.

Blue patriot, she knew she had made the mistake 10 years ago, she did not then repay the money. I am not rushing to judgement on that as it is clear that she was told she had done the wrong thing then.

I can't help but wondering what role 'She's got to go' plays in the Labour Party. It's clear s/he definitely isn't a Tory...

Lee Jasper was a lot more significant than this, as whilst he was unimportant, the person co-ordinating it all certainly wasn't!

Caroline Spelman was a new MP at the time. Her constituency office was her own home. It is clear that the lady concerned did carry out some secretarial duties. I am sure she would not follow the same arrangement now but it has not cost the taxpayer any more money than if Caroline Spelman had employed both a full-time secretary as well as a nanny in a private capacity.

And if the BBC is 'the envy of the world,' that says more about the world than the BBC. They have always been out to get us; look at their reaction to Blair's victory, champagne corks etc...

To put it briefly, the BBC have an interest in maintaining a Labour Govt. because they are constantly terrified that a Conservative Govt. will privatise them and that the general public won't even bat an eyelid.

AND of course - Nigel Rathbone, the BBC is NEVER EVER wrong, of COURSE not, AND!!! before you try to put me down Mr. Rathbone, that is more or less from the GREAT Panjandrum himself SIR Alex Ferguson, no less, and this is the quote: 'Sir Alex told Sir David (Frost) he would not co-operate with the BBC until it apologised. He said, 'I think the problem with the BBC is they never say they're sorry. They never admit their guilt. They never admit they're wrong.'!!! In today's Mail.

Incidentally the BBC are doing a programme - I suppose a sort of profile - on Annie Liebovitz next week, it will be interesting to see whether and HOW the subject of the cock-up regarding the film of Liebovitz photographing the Queen is tackled, I am sure the BBC will exonerate itself!

As I said earlier, this is nothing like the mep embezzlement, but it i still doing damage and she needs to go, not because she has necesserily done anything wrong, but because it will look bad if she doesn't.

Perhaps she could just be switched with pickles in a minireshuffle?


I think it wise for people to take note of what regular commenters have written and not what those who have randomly appeared today have written.

Incredible that some have managed to divert this thread to a discussion of the BBC!

That broadcaster, with others, is playing the embarassing interview with Spelman today - over and over again. So it will be tonight, in the Sunday press and on tomorrow's political shows.

Does anybody run the main opposition party at weekends? Have any in the party noted the complete reversal of the tone of comments on the Telegraph "Opinion" comments thread since the HOUSE Prices began to fall?

The voters will not take this any more. IMHO - if you want to stay ahead in the polls you must urgently throw off all these dodgy practises and excuses of the past.

"Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

The lesson is that politics needs to be cleaned up. Stop squabbling like idiots about BBC coverage and what's relatively worse.

The system is broken. That should be the focus of the discussion.

Martin Cole @ 14:37 - Yes I totally agree with you. The story is playing over and over again both on the BBC News Channel and on Sky News! Come on CCHQ - isn't there at least some media monitoring going on??????

Dale @ 14:25 - I think you could well be on to something there! I wouldn't be surprised if that is exactly what happens - I for one would be very happy to see Big Eric do the Chairman job.

"That said she has also been a poor manager of the party's organisation. So she will be no great loss."

Charming as ever!

How many more skeletons are lurking in the closets of Tory MPS? We have waited over a decade for a real chance to get into power and now that is being undermined by these selfish and arrogant clowns.

Cameron should immediately demand that all MPs and MEPs make a full and frank confession of any embarrassing secrets before they get leaked to the press on the eve of an election or during power. All those who are guilty should pay back any money they have stolen and make a full apology. They should then be allowed to retain their seats but not to have a position in government for at least 10 years.

Anybody who doesn't own up should immediately be deselected and booted out of the Party if they are found out. There will be those who claim we can't expect our MPs not to have their faults. Well there are many MPs who don't steal from the public purse, cheat on their wives or commit other forms of reprehensible behaviour. If they can live honest lives then there's no excuse for others not to.

In short, Cameron has to take drastic measures to purge the party of any sleazy behaviour.

ChrisD Are you denying that the party's computer systems are in a pitiful state?

The party is flying...Nobody should be allowed to stall this. Cameron has been strong dealing with MEPs he has to be equally strong here...

As someone said above the brand is in danger of being tainted...

Spelman may have her shortcomings, but lack of integrity certainly isn't one of them.

"Spelman may have her shortcomings, but lack of integrity certainly isn't one of them."

Kate Bollinger, I quote you above. Perhaps you know Ms Spelman and that has been your impression. But:

Integrity cannot survive in an individual who describes a nanny as a secretary for the purposes of an expense account claimed from the public purse.

Integrity must be an unknown to any individual thinking such an act is acceptable. Integrity must be a complete stranger to an individual who seeks guidance on such misrepresentation, is informed it is not permissible (one with a conscience would not need to be so guided) and then omits to repay the sums already claimed from her continuing gravy train receipts.

Collins - integrity adherence to moral principles; honesty

Yes of course the BBC is biased against us.

They will take any opportunity to shoot us down.

So why are we giving them the ammunition?

What we need now is a purge so complete and ruthless that no Conservative politician will ever dare bend the rules again.

Newsnight in general, and Crick in particular, have a pro-Labour slant. It may well be significant that Crick revealed nothing of the interview with the nanny, other than the one, purportedly damning, phrase. When the dust settles, I suspect it will turn out that he put a deal of pressure on her. It would be very interesting indeed to hear the tape.

Given the time they have had, and the strong motivation to find anything that distracts from Labour's many problems (indeed also, to distract from news that may be on the way as a result of the investigations into Hain and the Abrahams Labour donations), is it not a little interesting that this rather thin story is all they have managed to dig up?

The BBC has been reporting that "Caroline Spelman was due to be going through Giles Chichester's accounts..."

This is sloppy journalism at the very least - if they checked their facts they would know that Hugh Thomas, the enforcer being sent by David Cameron to Brussels will be doing that.

The story is playing over and over again both on the BBC News Channel and on Sky News!

Ah yes, Sky News, that hotbed of Socialism. Proves my point - the BBC is nothing to do with this.

The reason this story is of particular interest to ALL news outlets is that you Tories led the charge so mercilessly against Hain, Harman and others. I posted here at the time that that's a dangerous game - you can find petty mismanagement or minor financial impropriety anywhere if you dig hard enough. Now the spotlight has (temporarily I'm sure) reversed its focus you don't like it.

So please stop using this story as another excuse to bash the BBC and call for its privatisation and other such lunacy.

The BBC has produced some of the finest televison drama in the English speaking world. Commercial television brought us Big Brother and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Do you really want the Tories to be on the side of the philistines?

EVERYONE always thinks the BBC is against them if it doesn't support their point of view. Harold Wilson was convinced the BBC was biased against him, so was Thatcher, so was Blair.

The truth is much more complex. The BBC achieves a level of neutrality which amazes me - most of the time. The fact that their political staff can encompass both Andrew Neil and Andrew Marr is a perfect illustration of this. And I defy anyone to say that Jeremy Paxman's personal political views are obvious to the viewer.

I think Paxo displays the same level of contempt for everyone!

Well said Nigel Rathbone. This is a good blog, but people let themselves down by blaming the BBC for everything. The same people have no interest in impartiality. They simply want the story told the way they see it. They'd turn a blind eye to the BBC being "pro Tory".

Are you sure of that Nigel? Even Andrew Marr once admitted, "The BBC is not impartial or neutral."

I still don't get it, this mis-use of taxpayers money. We pay for the PM's lightbulbs and his Sky, we pay for Beckett's garden, we pay for Follett's window-cleaning, we pay for the huge Blair mortgage, we pay for the Keen's, the Balls's and the Winterton's, husband and wife, to claim 2 for 1 housing allowances, yet they don't live apart. But we are upset with paying for a nanny. Beats me, but what do I know!!

The fact is that this has brought sleaze back to haunt the Tory Party and Labour along with their media allies will make hay with this . Our great successes under David Cameron are more to do with Eric Pickles than with his two Chairmen ( Mr Maude & then Mrs Spelman ) . He led from the front in Crewe and at the local elections and managed a 17.6% in a heartland Labour seat and beat Labour by 20% nationally in the local elections . Quite frankly I am at a loss to understand why Mrs May ( another dud Party Chairman !), Mrs Spelman , Mr Maude and the invisible Mr Ainsworth ( why did he disappear during the flooding leaving Chris Huhne & the Lib Dems to make all the running ?) are still in the Shadow Cabinet at all ! Mr Cameron should be thinking about who can A) Best damage Labour and thus get the Toris back into office and B) Who can run big departments effectively , deliver on the manifesto and then get us a second term . Non of the said Charlies come anywhere near meeting the criteria of being good at opposition nor can one see them doing really well in a great office of state . Likewise Mr Lansley just wants to copy the failed Labour health policy while moaning about its results . Could Mrs Watksinson with her toughness and sound views on the NHS really be so bad as Shadow Health Secretary ? It is time for Sir Malcom Rifkind as Shadow Commons Leader to undermine Labour's fragile position in Parliament . As Cabinet Office spokesman John Redwood can pave the way for the end of QUANGO's & excess Whitehall regulation - he has the guts & brains to deliver that from 2010 onwards . Lord Forsyth has no seat to defend & is a brilliant politician who could therefore have the time & ability to be a great Party Chairman ( he once did the job in Scotland after all ). Alan Duncan as a media friendly moderniser is custom built for the DEFRA brief & Justine Greening has the talent to be Shadow Business Secretary to a high standard . This Spelman induced fiasco should give David Cameron pause to think about whether or not he has the team to finally decommision Labour and after that to run an effective government . If Philip Hammond really supports Labours economically destructive spending plans is he in the wrong Party and could the very hardworking Shalesh Vara really be any worse ? Mr Vara is a very able man who ought to be at the top table . Caroline Spelman is too lacklustre to be Party Chairman - on Question Time she left Harrier Harman off of the hook while Simon Heffer was superb . The Party Chairman must preside over a formidable organisation and hit Labour below the belt when needed . She has done neither & this sleaze story is a great excuse to axe her . It is two faced for us to ask a higher standard of Labour than of ourselves and voters will not be too pleased about that . We cannot have a sleaze damaged Party Chairman who could harm our chances in the the by-election in Boris's old seat by generating an anti-sleaze backlash . The Lib Dems could exploit this & try to provoke a backlash . By sacking the feeble Mrs Spelman David Cameron can say to Labour I am serious about being anti- sleaze and will clear it up when in office . It would rock the political class and be a winner with the voters . Harsh or not - she must go now ! Lord Forsyth could replace Mr Letwin as policy chief thus allowing us to get some vote winning policies while Eric Pickles gets the Chairmanship . Either Mr Pickles or Lord Forsyth could get the Tories a landslide - we are doing well despite Mrs Spelman not because of her or because of Mr Letwin's confused platitudes that appeal to The Guardian editorial more than swing voters in marginal seats . Lord Forsyths superb tax ideas prove that he would be a superior Policy Director to Mr Letwin .

HF, I can see vast improvements on CCHQ's operations in the last 2 years. But instead of singling out individuals as being of no loss if they go, I prefer to think that a combined team effort is working to turn what was an under performing operation into a successful one.
Caroline Spelman like her predecessor will never receive any praise when due, but always the harshest sweeping criticism for any mistakes.

AlanofEngland, you are bang on the money with that comment!
The HoC must be the only institution in the UK where it actually pays financially to be married/cohabiting under a Labour government. Sadly the opposite is true for the rest of us!

So she is a new MP. Has to hit the ground running. She needs a constituency office, and a constituency secretary. She has neither at that point.
Being practical, she uses the house as her office, and puts the nanny on double duties. The state has not paid one PENNY more than it would have done if caroline had rushed out and hired a secretary.
She then hires a seperate secretary as soon as she is told double duties for the nanny dont play well.She pays her nanny herself, as she has always done.
As an extremely astute PPC from a nearby constituency said to me while working in Crewe. " Its not the FACTS that matter, its the SPIN that can be put on the facts that one has to watch" I rest my case. Caroline is innocent of fiddling her expenses.
This is Crick desperately hunting round for something to divert attention from his beloved Liebour!!
Guido is on a roll, and is having too much fun to give up just yet.

"We cannot have a sleaze damaged Party Chairman who could harm our chances in the the by-election in Boris's old seat by generating an anti-sleaze backlash . The Lib Dems could exploit this & try to provoke a backlash ."

The Limp Dims have suddenly gone rather quiet! Does this strike anyone as odd?

Steve R, I don't think anyone on this blog has let anyone down by complaining about the BBC. The vast majority of commenters here agree that if the behaviour of the MEPs or Caroline Spelman has been disreputable they should all be sacked.
Unlike our political oppononts who if you care to check Labourhome instinctively defended the antics of Harman and Hain to the end. I'm actually quite proud of most people on this blog. We ARE , better than them.
As regards the BBC, you must be able to see their double standards.The difference in their coverage not only of the antics Hain and Harman but even more so of speaker Martin and Spelman is unbelievable.
It is right that Conservatives should do everything in our power to expose the BBC and destroy its credibility with the public if it continues to behave like this.

She's always struck me as coming across like an over zealous evangelical vicar's wife. Which is probably where here talents should have kept her.

Anyway, wait until the Parly Com has reported and then make a decision on her probity. Look, they're ALL at it.

Well said Annabel Herriott. It was nice to read a bit of common sense on this thread which contrasts with some of the more extreme reaction to this story.

Caroline Spellman may well have made an error of judgement, but it was 10 years ago and nobody died because of it. She may also not be the greatest chairperson but that's another issue altogether. This is basically a non story from a different age being run by the party's opponents and a few holier than thou's like Guido. I'm all for cleaning up politics and I think DC has done well with his action on the MEP's. However, suggesting that he dumps Caroline for something like this 10 years ago is way too harsh.

Steve Garner - I second your comments! Guido is altogether too "holier than thou" and many of the posters there seem to be somewhat unhealthily obsessed with bedroom antics of one kind or another - perhaps they don't get out much?!

Guido has been found guilty of repeated drink driving offences. His actions risked killing others. He is NO position to judge others.

The BBC website is now running that the nanny has stated that she did do secretarial work during the period in question. If this is substantiated there should be a lot of posters to this site hanging their heads in shame.

I can imagine Caroline Spelman will have made enemies in CCHQ, that was her task. The story, in her case is bizarre, there was never anything there.

She worked closely with Eric in her previous Local Government post and I am fairly sure that it was she who demanded that Eric was her successor there.

Of course councillors actually get child-care allowance, not that many of us have schoolage kids that we care to own up to.

It would be a disaster to move Eric. We will need our councillors ten years into governemt; Eric knows that, that is what the New Localism is all about.

Oh, and he's pretty good at winning By-elections.

Iain Dale has a post that shines some light on the detail, and really puts this whole story into perspective.
Caroline Spelman is a Decent & Honest Woman


The BBC's latest update.

The elephant in the room is not Spelman it's why this issue has excited so many people. Most voters are probably incredulous that anyone is interested in such a small issue that happened 11 years ago. Voters will probably see this as desparation by Labour and merely confirm what most people already accept that the BBC is pro left/Labour. (Given its organisation it would be amazing if it wasn't.)

Some of the excited contributers above will be solid party supporters outraged that, yet again, they seem to have been let down by an MP, in this case one who does not seem up to her job. Party workers are becoming really fed up with their MPs and it is now showing. There are still too many Tory MPs full of their own importance and quite unable to see they have a loyalty to the party and regard supporters and voters as irritating complications in their life of public adoration. (Roll on the A listers.) Caroline Spelman may not be one of these but BBC staffers and jounalists will be well aware of this and the consequent publicity value.

On the other hand some of the more excitable comments are probably from Labour trolls which leads one to guess that this whole show has been pre-organised and this would probably include the BBC.

It seems that as suspicious arrangement as it was, it was not against the rules and she has done nothing wrong, I think we all owe her an apology.


I still think she should be switched with pickles, he seems to have impressed everyone in recent months and is clearly te best peson for the job.

She is a useless chairman, very poor one on one with activists.

However there is nothing in this story. You can understand how this situation happened.

Well the Nanny's backed her story so the 'story' is now dead.

"Guido has been found guilty of repeated drink driving offences. His actions risked killing others. He is NO position to judge others."

Don't be silly, the fact that he may have done something stupid doesn't mean that he's wrong about Spelman.

Personally I have never been a great fan of Ms Spelman. I always thought she frankly was not up to the job. Wether she misused taxpayers money or not I am not sure but personally I think she deserves the sack for her sheer stupidity in employing her nanny in the way she did.

Congrats to Tim and Sam for staying away from the baying mob. I'm also glad to see Iain Dale sticking up for Caroline Spellman. She has the best two of the three right wing blogs on her side.

I don't think this is quite over yet, but does it seem to anyone else as though Michael Crick rung up this woman, shouted quickfire questions at her, and then hung up?

Iain Dale has a further update to his earlier story on Caroline Spelman.
Spelman Nanny DID do Constituency Work
"This statement certainly backs up Caroline Spelman's version of events. It also puts some questionmarks over Michael Cricks "reporting" of the facts on Newsnight last night. Peter Spencer, reporting on the statement just now on Sky, reckons the case against Caroline Spelman has collapsed."

Will the BBC give this development the same prominence they did their own expose, I think that Caroline Spelman deserves that courtesy, I won't hold my breathe.

The truth is that Crick spoke to Ms Spelman's former nanny/constituency secretary who gave an account, that has now been clarified. Ms Spelman has now explained how the situation arose - as a new woman MP with children in 1997, she needed to arrange both her constituency office and childcare. The arrangement, which is challenged by Crick due to a confused account by the former nanny (hardly double sourcing of a story), was changed due to the concern of the Chief Whip at the time.

It is also an attempt to hound out a woman MP who had to balance professional and childcare responsibilities and came up with a pragmatic solution that was criticised by the Chief Whip and, accordingly, the arrangement was changed.

Further to my comment above, I would point out also that it was Crick's confusion, not the nanny's! (as the statement has now clarified)

I was a constituency secretary many years ago, and my duties included walking a Basset Hound and making tea for the Special Branch Detectives. I suspect that in theory the secretarial allowance didn't cover these activities, but it was all part of the job.

I find it depressing that as soon as there is any adverse comment about a woman her ability to do her job is immediately called into question. Caroline Spelman is an excellent Chairman, who appeals to women in particular. This is probably one reason that the BBC has picked her as a target; she is a real plus for the Party and popular with electors. I am sure that she will be exonerated from any wrongdoing.

I'm amused by the idea that the Church of England has the balls to launch a "devastating attack" on anything.

"I find it depressing that as soon as there is any adverse comment about a woman her ability to do her job is immediately called into question."

That's right, Jenny; it's all a great big sexist plot, isn't it? I hadn't realised that that was why we were all expressing disgust for yet more abuses of the expenses system.

Now, if only I could find those MEPs' breasts...


"Most voters are probably incredulous that anyone is interested in such a small issue that happened 11 years ago."

NO, you stupid prick most voters are sick of crooks like Spelman riping them off.

The policy of the Conservative Party should be clear. If a Conservative M.P.,councillor or a member of the Conservative is found guilty of sleaze or employing members of their family or relatives at public expense then they should be expelled from the Party straight away. David Cameron or other members of the Party should not defend them in any way until the offender has been found innocent of the charges against them.

When the bloodbath is over, the cull complete and the whites whiter than white...

You can spend the next two years taking the rest of them to the bastard cleaners. Get it done now. Get Spelman out along with any other troughers you can find.

Go Guido, GO

Sleaze ! Sleaze ! and more Sleaze ! "be very careful when having a go at labour, it can all backfire in the future" I said this when many on here were calling for Peter Hain,s head and Harriet Harman,s head.

You do not learn and what comes around goes around. Spelman has had it. The quicker Cameron gets rid and stops the damage the better, lets see if Dave has got the guts to do the right thing and sack her.

Every mother should receive a salary or allowances that is enough to pay for the work she is NOT doing, primarily the care of her own children. I wish all employers of mothers of children would understand that to value the mother's work they MUST afford all the costs of the skilled care that she must provide for her children while working.
I chose to stay with my children and earn money later. We were abandoned when the youngest was six and it was even more important to be with them, so they would not feel they were abandoned by me as well.

Encouraging single mothers to 'work' instead of care for their children must be the source of the problems of the past 11 years. Unbrought up children lack basic social skills and a moral basis on which to run their lives. They emerge from childhood uneducated and unemployable.

What Harman, Hain, Johnson, Alexander were said to have done i.e. late filing of expenses/donations or not spotting an ineligible donor for a paltry amount does not compare with these MEPs and this MP. And I'm with the Spectator and the Sunday Times in wondering why Alan Duncan's tie in with Vitol is not getting more scrutiny in Tory circles.

To pick up the interesting point about Eric Pickles, and how he rightly understands that we will need our councillors if get back into government.

We let our local government base go last time in office. It worsened the eventual loss of parliamentary seats.

Not anyone's fault really - the priorities were different and there was a war against high spending authorities who were damaging the government's economic policy.

We have to trust Tories in local government to get on with it - and more of them will survive in office in mid terms if we do that.
Some will fail, but most will deliver good services at a much lower cost, and it could be a great partnership to rebuild some of the places which supported us this year but haven't voted Tory for a long time.

Today the 'Daily Politics' is covered the Spelman "story" too, despite Crick's Gilliganian reporting having been discredited by the nanny's statement. The BBC is closing ranks on the dodgy Crick. Did you see the guilt on Crick's face as Tim Montgomerie explains why this 'investigation' has been a repeat of Crick's Betsygate report? Cameron is right to defend Mrs Spelman.

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