Downing Street's handling of the matter was also strongly criticised by Labour MPs at a lengthy meeting of the parliamentary Labour party last night. During what was described as a 'fractious' meeting, MPs criticised Brown for making his announcement on a YouTube broadcast last Tuesday without any reference to them. Some MPs had raised the matter at their last meeting the day before Brown's broadcast...
...Labour MPs made their unease clear at last night's meeting of the parliamentary Labour party where Nick Brown, the chief whip, faced hostile questions. One senior MP said: 'It was hairy, emotional, there was a lot of nervousness. There was real anger with the No 10 operation. MPs felt this was done to distract from the row over the Damian McBride emails. Sure, given vested interests and all that, you can understand someone not consulting too much with MPs about their own expenses. But with Brown hardly enjoying the smoothest premiership, it does seem odd for him to alienate his colleagues in this way.
UPDATE: Iain Martin has a good post on Brown's expenses fiasco over at Three Line Whip. He makes the point that Brown is creating new crises by trying, desperately, to find quick fixes for the existing ones:
"What did the damage, I am told, is that those involved around Brown had been so preoccupied with handling the McBride affair that they lost any sense of perspective. Tired people can end up coming up with very stupid ideas. Emailgate was so all consuming and intense that they calculated they needed a quick game-changer to get away from it, one which emphasised Brown's claim to high moral standards.
But the second homes reform ended up doing the opposite, and has made the PM look even more tricksy.
It illustrates that Brown is lurching from crisis to quick fix and back again. And those in the machine which is supposed to support him are over-worked and over-tired. The machine which supports the PM is misfiring badly, probably because he is demanding the wrong things from it. Round and round his team goes, in ever decreasing circles. This great expenses reform programme lasted all of six days."