Peter Hoskin

A gentlemen’s agreement?

A gentlemen's agreement?
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Read Sam Coates's latest blog post and despair.  Turns out, certain Tory backbenchers had bashed out a "gentlemen's agreement" over expenses with the Government.  The idea was that they were going to vote with Brown to block the publication of MPs' expenses on a "receipt by receipt" basis.  But thanks to David Cameron whipping his MPs against the Government's proposals - and thanks also to Brown's panicked climbdown over the vote  - their plans have been scuppered.  Good.

Sometimes it's just plain astonishing how quickly MPs will jettison their duty to the public, and their loyalty to the party, when the issue of expenses comes up.  Thing is, they're often adamant that they're in the right; that they're somehow standing up for Parliment's time-honoured, democratic rights.  Here's what one Tory MP is quoted as saying in Sam's post:

"[Cameron's] desire to look whiter than white is frankly ridiculous and causes damage without him realising it. I mean, would you want to show the public every single receipt you claimed for?"

It defies belief.  Sure, Cameron pushing for the full publication of expenses may be unpopular with a cosy enclave of backbench MPs.  But I doubt it does him much harm among the general public who are actually paying for all those goodies from John Lewis, and who vote in their millions come election time. And lest some Parliamentarians forget; it's that public that they're supposed to be representing.