Peter Hoskin

When will they learn?

When will they learn?
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Why argue your case when you can smear your opponent's name? According to this morning's Telegraph, that's the approach that a group of MPs are taking over the Sir Thomas Legg letters. The plan they're apparently considering is to use parliamentary questions to find out details such as Legg's pay, his team's expenses and how much they've spent on media advice. One Tory MP tells the paper that there are "legitimate questions" about these things.  Hm.

It's not only a pernicious strategy, it's also stupid.  Even if MPs manage to uncover some sort of hypocrisy on Legg's part, do they really think it will divert public anger away from them?  And do they not see that they could end up with egg on their faces if Legg comes out squeaky clean?  Worst of all, this sends a message out to voters that Parliament may just be as venal, tribal and self-concerned as they suspected all along. No, this is not the way to win public support. We all saw what happened when Labour figures tried to similarly take on Richard Dannatt.

As I said yesterday, the involvement of politicians like Frank Field could - rightly or wrongly - have made the anti-Legg movement a more convincing, stronger force. If they are to contest the Legg letters, then MPs need to present their case in a respectable fashion.  Indulging in gutter politics will simply make the situation worse.