Peter Hoskin

Now’s the time for “new politics” again, Dave

Now's the time for "new politics" again, Dave
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Remember how promising things sounded in the wake of the Derek Conway affair last year?  All the party leaders had basically the same message - This Can't Happen Again - but it was Cameron who refined it into something of a driving philosophy, with his talk of a "new politics" which stands against the political class.  Sadly, that talk faded as the year progressed, and it became more and more likely that we'd never see the full publication of MPs expenses.

With the discovery today that Gordon Brown has - disgracefully - imposed a three line whip on Labour MPs to vote for a block on the full publication of expenses, it's time for the Tories to reheat that "new politics" message.  To be fair to Cameron, the political will certainly seems to be there - Tory MPs will be whipped to vote against the block (as will the Lib Dems).  But, as the Times points out, the Tory leader's rhetoric on the matter is decidedly "cautious".  It needn't be.  There are numerous benefits from him taking a more strident approach.  For one, it's an opportunity for Cameron to paint Gordon Brown as part of the Old Crowd, and himself as an Obama-esque motor for change.  And, as the recession bites deeper, any belt-tightening leadership from Westminster will undoubtedly be met with public approval.

One senses that Cameron's holding back because, otherwise, he'd come up against opposition in his own party.  If so, it's dispiriting.  Even if Tory MPs forget their duty to the public, then surely they can be persuaded to sign up to a "new politics" for the sake of their party's chances at the next election.  Or is the lure of a new fridge-freezer really that great?  I guess we'll find out when the vote takes place tomorrow.