From tonight’s Evening Blend – a free round-up and analysis of the day’s political events from the Coffee House team. Subscribe here.
‘I think that we should leave it there,’ said David Cameron when asked by reporters today about Maria Miller. Of course, the press won’t leave it there as many suspect that there is something about this that doesn’t quite meet the ‘smell test’ that a leader of a party in opposition once set out. Why has the Prime Minister been quite so warm and supportive towards a minister who failed to co-operate with the investigation into her expenses? Why was she allowed to make such a recalcitrant apology? Former chair of the Commons committee on standards in public life Sir Alistair Graham has told ITV news that ‘Cabinet ministers have to show strong leadership on ethical issues and she hasn’t shown any.’
The Prime Minister also claimed that independent members of the Commons standards committee rather than MPs had the casting vote over whether to censure Miller. But the Commons rules state that only the MPs on the committee can vote on its findings. Expect this to be picked over in some detail in tomorrow’s papers, who don’t seem to like what they can smell. Craig Oliver’s intervention in the middle of today’s Daily Politics – the spin doctor emailed the show to say ‘Tony is talking rubbish about me, and you can use that’ as former Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher was talking about Oliver’s role in the story – is also likely to feature.
One other question worth mulling is why other MPs and Labour closed ranks over this. It is hard to find anyone other than John Mann and Peter Hain who will make any negative comment publicly.