Steerpike

Ed Davey’s costly leadership bid

Ed Davey's costly leadership bid
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The Liberal Democrats were once the progressive voice of fiscal restraint. Not anymore. Leadership hopeful Ed Davey has tabled nearly 130 written questions over the last two weeks in a bid to generate some much-needed coverage – costing an estimated £140 a pop.

According to Mr Steerpike's back-of-a-fag-packet calculations, these often pointless interventions set the taxpayer back a cool £18,000.

Probing questions include a request for information about artworks depicting slave owners around the parliamentary estate, allowing the Lib Dem bigwig to moan to the Mirror about Britain's 'shameful' past. Other time-wasting queries include a question involving sensitive intelligence related matters, which as an experienced parliamentarian Sir Ed must know can't be answered. 

A spokesperson for Davey told Mr S: 

It is the job of the opposition parties to hold the government to account, and parliamentary questions are an important tool for that. These questions have exposed the appalling diversity record in the justice sector, a shocking level of self-harm in prisons and the fact that the government have no idea how many carers there are in their own departments. If this government didn't dodge scrutiny so much, we might not need to ask so many questions.

Curiously, were one to look at his record from this time last year when he was scrutinising, er, the same Prime Minister, Davey submitted precisely zero written questions in the whole of June (and yes, parliament was sitting). In fact, the leadership hopeful put forward a grand total of just 27 written questions last year, fewer than he managed on Thursday and Friday last week.

Whatever could be behind Sir Ed's sudden questions splurge?

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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