James Forsyth

Until all the expenses are out, it will be the only story in town

Until all the expenses are out, it will be the only story in town
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The Guardian’s superb scoop revealing the Bank of England’s worries about a coming third wave of the financial crisis would normally be big news but in the current circumstances it is gaining little traction. No other political news story is going to have cut through until all the expenses stories are out there.

The Westminster rumour-mill is buzzing about who will be the next in the expenses firing line and whether anyone will attempt a pre-emptive defence. On the Conservative side, there is both nervousness about what might be revealed about them and, as Tim notes on Conservative Home, a bit of blame game about why the party weren’t out front on reform with Patrick McLoughlin, the chief whip, and William Hague and David Davis coming in for particular criticism. One thing to watch for on the reform front is whether Cameron and Clegg, bonded by their disastrous meeting on this issue with Gordon Brown and fresh off their victory on Gurkha rights, can come up with a joint plan.

But it will take more than reform of the rules to end this sorry saga. It is going to require a change in the culture, MPs are going to have to think very differently about the claims they make. MPs must be conscious that they are spending public money at a time when everyone knows that the public finances are in such a bad state that spending will have to be cut and taxes go up. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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