Fraser Nelson

Permanent damage to the political classes

Permanent damage to the political classes
Text settings
Comments

What I love about the Derek Conway’s je ne regrette rien in the Mail on Sunday is the way he gives clues as to where the other bodies are buried. “I know many MPs with family members who have different names registered so that they are not so obviously spotted. Some spouses work under maiden names,” he coos. “We often came across people and we'd say, ‘I didn't realise they were related.”

So why not more scandal? Without a good contact inside the Fees Office it’s hard for journalists to get the lowdown on all this. But there’s enough clues (phone directories, etc) to help expose what is a standard scam. As Conway says, most MPs think they should be on £80k, not £60k. But by paying their wife £45k for a job worth £25k and you make good the difference. It’s all legal, but no MP would volunteer to have his judged the people who pay the money: the British public.  Melissa Kite’s superb story about Peter Hain employing his 80-year-old mother is a small example. With 144 MPs admitting hiring family members, there’s plenty more rotten fruit to be shaken out of this tree yet.

Now, to the damage report. Today’s ICM poll shows the Tories down 3 points, but the LibDems picking it up. I go straight to Anthony Wells for interpretation of all polls – link here. All parties need to move the agenda on, and the Tories managed to beat the Conway blues with splash in the Observer and Sunday Telegraph (the Wintertons’ imaginative rental scam leads the Mail on Sunday, but that doesn’t count). The Tories have for some time been planning a law-and-order crackdown, which will dovetail nicely with The Sun’s “Broken Britain” theme. So they may succeed in shifting the news agenda on. But the Conway scandal has, in my view, done permanent damage to the political classes and the extent of this damage has yet to be fully surveyed.

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.

Comments
Topics in this articleInternational