Peter Hoskin

Where are the self-interested reformers?

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One of the continuing mysteries of this expenses scandal is why Labour backbenchers who haven't been implicated aren't speaking out for stronger action against those who have.  Sure, it would ruffle some feathers in their own party - but, as this week's Bagehot column suggests, they may not lose out by doing so:

"Unfortunately, the politicians’ self-interest is unenlightened and myopic. With so little life left in the government, the cost to the careers of Labour mutineers would be nugatory; indeed, their stature might be enhanced if the plot came off. The confrontation between Mr Brown and the malcontents is less like a gunslingers’ deadly stand-off than the Monty Python sketch in which two men slap each other with fish."

As I wrote earlier, it will be interesting to see whether any Cabinet ministers try to effectively launch their leadership campaigns on the back of calls to go further with parliamentary reform.  If one could sell the self-interest angle of all this to backbenchers, then they could hoover up a fair amount of internal support.