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.