Alex Massie

Chipmunk Hunting

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Amidst the public riot over parliamentarians' expenses, the story of Hazel Blears remains oddly fascinating. And story is the operative word, given that she appears to be the sole cabinet minister singled out for opprobrium despite the fact that several of her colleagues have enjoyed equally shady and profitable dealings with the Fees Office. Since she's had the gall to criticise the Prime Minister you can see why Downing Street is Chipmunk Hunting, making it clear that her actions were "unacceptable" and all the rest of it.

But if Blears is guilty - or guilty enough to be forced out of the cabinet - then surely Alastair Darling and Geoff Hoon shoul also be for the chop? Of course, this would confirm the government's destruction so, again, one can see why Downing Street should seek to limit the damage to Little Hazel. But why should the press be so content - or seemingly content - to play along with this scenario? It's almost as if some tacit bargain had been made with Downing Street (though we know such a thing couldn't happen, don't we?).

Doubtless there's a better explanation, but if so I'd be interested in hearing it. Why isn't the press making as much of an issue out of Darling and Hoon as it is of Blears? And how happy - relatively speaking in a time when the tumbrils are rattling - must the PM be that the fly-paper strategy of hanging Blears out the window appears to be working? At least for the time being...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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