Fraser Nelson

Have the Tories lost the moral high ground?

Have the Tories lost the moral high ground?
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This Derek Conway expenses scam is one of the most outrageous I’ve heard in some time. He bunged his son £1,000-a-month of taxpayers’ money on the basis that he was doing research. And as the Standards and Privileges Committee said, there was zero independent evidence of any work done – or any commissioned. A total of £40,000 of our money beefed up the Conway family finances as young Freddie Conway studied full-time at Newcastle University doing his “research”. His stash included “four one-off bonuses” (wonderful oxymoron) totalling £10,000 and he’s been ordered to repay £13,200. Now, this isn’t the same as £103,000 of Peter Hain’s undeclared donations. But something tells me the general public will conclude that that all MPs are on the take. Conway’s punishment will likely be a 10-day suspension, but the Tory Party’s punishment is that they'll find it very hard to take the moral high ground while criticising Labour.

P.S. This as a result of an investigation last May by Robert Winnett, now of the Daily Telegraph, who listed other MPs who employ family members. But like IDS and Betsy, they did so within the rules.

The highlights from the Committee’s report

--- “There is conclusive evidence that Mr Conway authorised the payment of bonuses to FC that went way beyond the permitted ceiling… throughout the period of FC's employment.

--- “He also seemed to be oblivious to the broader reputational risks to the House of any perception of personal benefit to his family”

--- “This arrangement was, at the least, an improper use of Parliamentary allowances: at worst it was a serious diversion of public funds.”

had the whip withdrawn

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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