by Stephen Tall on May 15, 2009
Our daily review and preview of the day’s big stories…
2 Big Stories
MPs’ expenses dominate the headlines … again
Another day, another bleak day for Parliamentary politics. Former Agriculture minister Elliot Morley was suspended from the Labour party for claiming £16,000 in expenses on a mortgage he had paid off. Meanwhile, Andrew MacKay, a senior aide to Tory leader David Cameron, resigned after claiming tens of thousands of pounds in second-home expenses on a London property that his wife, Tory MP Julie Kirkbride, designated as her main home. And as if that wasn’t enough, the House of Lords took the exceptional step of recommending supsension of two Labour peers were recommended for suspension from the Lords after allegations they had shown themselves willing to change laws in return for cash. Today it’s the turn for Labour’s Justice Minister Shahid Malik and Labour-turned-Independent MP Clare Short to feel the heat of the Telegraph’s exclusives.
And in non-expenses-related other news…
Remember Lord Myners, Labour’s city minister, and the man who approved Sir Fred Goodwin’s £703,000 a year pension from Royal Bank of Scotland, the bank which came close to collapse on his watch? Well, the Commons’ treasury select committee has criticised Lord Myners for “naivete”, and failure to give RBS a “clearer, stronger direction” that failure was not to be rewarded. The Lib Dems’ Vince Cable commented: “Never again should greed be allowed to bring down economies.”
2 Must-read Blog Posts
Nick Clegg’s Performance Rating Soars (Caron’s Musings)
Nick Clegg’s approval rating is on the brink of overtaking a flatlining David Cameron according to this. … I always thought that the more people saw of Nick, the more they would like him. He’s been getting a lot of coverage lately and has come across as straight talking, credible and likeable. I think people are realising too that he talks sense on the issues of the day and that he keeps to his word.
Constitutional reform: we told you so (Cicero’s Songs)
The constitution of the UK rests upon an electoral system where one can either vote for a party label or make a judgement on the personal qualities of an individual, but very rarely both. If you live in Scunthorpe and are a Labour supporter, you may be deeply unhappy to find that voting Labour involves voting for Eliott Morley, who is one of those MPs most deeply involved in the expenses furore. Likewise, one could be a Conservative supporter in Stratford-on-Avon and find that your party allegiance means supporting John Maples, who is also one of those most prominent in the expenses affair. …
Of course I don’t believe in safe seats for any party, and that is why Liberal Democrats argue that a single transferable vote with multi member constituencies is a better system. STV allows the electorate to choose between the candidates even amongst those of the party they support. Meanwhile in some places people would choose to split their votes between parties to support popular MPs of other parties. For example Frank Field is very popular amongst supporters of other political parties, as is Ken Clarke.