Peter Hoskin

They’ll have to start thinking about expenses again

They'll have to start thinking about expenses again
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So expenses are back - and in a fairly big way.  Not that they ever really went away, of course.  But you'd be forgiven for thinking that the parties had pretty much forgotten about them during conference season, so little was said about the issue.  But today it's back on the front pages and, you suspect, back to the top of MPs' priority lists.  

According to the Sunday Telegraph, "more than half" of the Commons will be either told to repay dubious claims, or provide extra information about those claims, during the next part of Sir Thomas Legg's investigation into expenses this week.  Gordon Brown is said to be among the former group.

And it's not just the Commons which is coming under renewed fire: the cover story of today's Sunday Times says that Lord Paul - a major Labour donor and ally of Gordon Brown - claimed £38,000 for a "main residence" which actually belonged to one of his employees.  It's like the dark days of May all over again.

As with much of this entire scandal, it's astonishing how many of our parliamentarians aren't pre-empting all of this.  The Tories said more about cleaning up our politics than any other major party during their conference - but, then, we didn't hear anything particularly new.  While Labour and the Lib Dems more or less swept the issue under the carpet.

Clegg & Co, in particular, can look on this as a missed opportunity.  Only a few weeks ago, he was saying that Parliament shouldn't holiday until it had "fixed politics".  But now he's near silent about it.  Along the way, he's lost one of the Lib Dems' key opportunities to attract votes in the next election.