Peter Hoskin

A phonecall to Kelly looks better than not mentioning expenses

A phonecall to Kelly looks better than not mentioning expenses
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If you want a measure of how disastrous yesterday's Queen's Speech was for Gordon Brown, you need only pay heed to two things.  First, today's news coverage, which is almost universally negative for the PM.  Even the FT, which is usually quite forgiving of Brown, launches an acerbic attack on the "shameless politicking" in the speech.  And that's before we get onto numerous stories about discontent on the left, as well as unflattering write-ups by political columnists across the political spectrum.

The second is David Cameron's interview on the Today programme this morning.  One of the lines of questioning was whether the Tories had got in touch with Sir Christopher Kelly yesterday, before the latter issued a statement criticising the absence of expenses reform from the Queen's Speech.  Cameron umm-ed and ahh-ed, but it's since emerged that the shadow leader of the Commons, Sir George Young, did contact Kelly yesterday afternoon.  The subsequent charge is that there may have been "collusion" between the Tories and Kelly in attacking the government.

If that's the most difficult question that the Tories face in the aftermath of the Queen's Speech, then I imagine CCHQ will be delighted.  After all, the omission of expenses reform from the government's legislative agenda is one of the surest signs yet that Brown's political compass is bust.  If anything, the fact that the Tories contacted Kelly may play well with a public which wants the mess fixing – and soon.