There is no political capital to be won defending MPs on expenses. The media is not ready and nor is the public. The pendulum has not swung back. The coalition government does better by trumpeting its plans to do away with large numbers of MPs altogether, ostensibly to “lower the cost of politics”. In today’s prime minister’s questions, however, David Cameron unexpectedly took on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (the body set up in the wake of last summer’s expenses scandal to set policy and process MPs’ claims).
Cameron was responding to cross-party fury that IPSA has not only lumbered parliament with a dysfunctional new computerised system, but also adopted what many MPs regard as a vindictive, petty-fogging and demagogic approach to policy. In a hearing with IPSA chief Sir Ian Kennedy a few days ago, for example, Lib Dem MP Bob Russell reflected the frustration of many at the way a bug-ridden, clunky system is draining parliamentary resources that would otherwise be deployed in the service of constituents. Read more
The thousands of people who have signed up to a Raoul Moat fanclub on Facebook are clearly moronic on any level. But what exactly is David Cameron trying to achieve today by asking the website to take down the offending page? Read more
During PMQs today the prime minister said that it had been condescending to describe charities and social enterprises as “the third sector” – before going on to rebrand them (patronisingly) as “the first sector“. Why not just call them charities?
I will certainly have those conversations with the Treasury, and we will want to do everything we can to help what used to be called, rather condescendingly, the third sector but I believe is the first sector: the excellent charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises that do so much for our country…so often these first sector organisations have the right answers to the social problems in our country.
The Mandy tome has arrived via courier. It offers some good texture to add to our impression of past events, although it is not always entirely believable; he didn’t “pour poison” in George Osborne’s ear about Gordon Brown’s shortcomings, he didn’t call News International executives the C-word (only “chumps”), there was no Granita pact etc. Really?
His thoughts on meeting Andy Coulson, Tory head of communications: “I found Coulson to be the sort of person I expected of a former News of the World editor – rather sure of himself, and used to getting his own way.” Read more
I’m told that Andrew Mitchell, the development secretary, will announce this afternoon that he’s appointing Lord Ashdown to a new humanitarian role: “Chair of the Emergency Response Review“. Read more
Ed Miliband loves the idea. Some of the coalition are even toying with the policy. Here are four reasons why the Treasury should ignore them.
1. The dead hand of state control
A graduate tax will kill any sense of a market in university degrees, as all funding will be centralised. Bureaucrats will divvy up the cash for the university courses they judge to be worthy. Instead of following the informed decisions of students, the money will follow the whims of Whitehall. This tax “reform” would effectively run universities like the Further Education sector. Brilliant. Read more
Ed Balls delightfully referred to the Blair-Brown wars as “creative tension” yesterday. Read more