Peter Hoskin

Brown does a Darling

Brown does a Darling
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Just in case Gordon Brown needed reminding that his battle for survival is being fought on numerous fronts, the Telegraph has sifted through the PM's expenses again and discovered a rather juicy morsel.  Apparently, around 06-07, Brown claimed the allowance for his constituency home while also charging the taxpayer for council tax and other bills on another property in London.  It's not about the amount of money he claimed on the London property - some £512, certainly a mistake - but the principle of it: after all, this is the misdemeanour which Darling was charged with earlier in the week, and the Chancellor had to both explain himself and pay back the extra money.  On top of that, there are also signs that Brown engaged in a spot of flipping.

After his Son of the Manse routine earlier, Brown could well do without this.  Sure, it's far from the worst revelation to emerge from the Telegraph's expenses investigation, but Brown's very political survival is dependent on his pleas and narratives taking root in the public consciousness.  Even the suggestion that he's yet another flipper could be enough to fatally undermine his talk about "cleaning up the system," or about taking on the "gentlemen's club" of Westminster - particularly as Brown is already coming out of the expenses scandal badly.  So while this kind of thing won't topple Brown, it does erode his platform at the most precarious of times.  And that, in turn, increases the chance of him slipping.