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Downing Street’s Maria Miller dilemma

13 December 2012

There was a time during the Leveson Inquiry when Jeremy Hunt’s departure from the government was treated as almost inevitable by the media, including yours truly. But Number 10 backed him. He survived and was then promoted in the reshuffle. When it eventually came out, the Leveson Report made only minor criticisms of him and cleared him of the most serious charges against him. This has confirmed Number 10 in its view that most media squalls blow themselves out in time.

But the Cameroons have always accepted that MPs’ expenses is a toxic subject with the public. Cameron made a fair number of enemies on the backbenches, with the hard-line stance he took on the issue, albeit once the expenses scandal had broken.

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Downing Street would be loath to lose Miller for three reasons. First, they wouldn’t want to be giving the press a scalp—particularly given Leveson and the extent of the tensions between Downing Street and the media over this story. Second, Miller is an ideal person to pilot the gay marriage legislation through. She’s courteous not confrontational and isn’t seen as a social liberal by colleagues. Third, Miller is one of only four female secretaries of state.

Miller’s future now turns on the investigation by the parliamentary commissioner for standards into her expenses. But I expect that—for the reasons above—she would be able to weather some criticism from him. Indeed, Baroness Warsi survived parts of a complaint against her by being upheld by the Lords Commissioner for Standards.

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Show comments
  • marrer

    Par for the course what do you expect from a mealy mouth lying politician.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    This is what Cameron said about the appalling behaviour of MPs fraudulently claiming expenses in a party election broadcast in 2009.

    He was sorry. MPs may have claimed within the rules, but they were wrong.

    He’s rather changed his tune now. He obviously wasn’t THAT sorry.

  • Tarka the Rotter

    Ah the disinfecting sunshine has had a solar eclipse, methinks…

  • davebush999

    Apart from anything else, Miller is useless based on her recent TV interviews.

  • Richard111

    It has been said by John Mann MP, but also repeated by others, that the Miller case is “identical” to the McNulty case. However the report into McNulty (para 62) says:

    “The principle issue which I am to determine is whether Mr McNulty was within the rules in establishing his parents rent free in a constituency home on which he claimed parliamentary allowances.”

    There is an immediate difference in that in the Miller case the claim was not for the constituency home but the home occupied by the wider family for almost 10 years before she was elected to Parliament. Therefore the cases cannot be said to be “identical”.

    Furthermore, McNulty bought the house in Harrow in 1998 with the proceeds from the sale of his first matrimonial home after he was elected to Parliament in 1997. He had for a time lived at his parent’s house nearby. His parents therefore moved into the house he was claiming for after he became a MP. McNulty moved out of the Harrow house in 2002 when he remarried and went to live in Hammersmith. It was established he spent an average 1 day a week at the Harrow house.
    There are thus a number of apparent further difference to the Miller case. Such differences may or may not mean Miller has breached the rules. However, to describe the cases as “identical” and therefore Miller has consequently breached the rules is nothing short of sloppy reporting.

    • Jimble

      I bow to your superior knowledge, but if one were to say that both were claiming for properties in which their parents were living and which they had designated as their secondary homes, then any ordinary member of the public might consider them as identical.

  • itdoesntaddup

    Is gamarrage “Culture”?

    Why has nothing been done about the BBC?

    What is the point of Miller?

  • Bickers

    Is it any wonder that we’ve seen a breakdown in many parts of civil society when the example set by those at the top of the pile is so bad.

    • TomTom

      Fish rots from the head

  • Vulture

    It’s been quite a week for little Miss Piggie.
    Let’s see:
    1) She explains to the HOuse why ythe wisom of centuries was all wrong and its OK for Grooms to be brides now.
    2) Her PR team threatens the Telegraph in an effort to stifle the expenses cheat story.
    3) Now she’s facing an official Commons inquiry into her cheating.
    Well, at least she looks the part: pop an apple in her mouth and she’s done.

    • 2trueblue

      Well she could make an apology to parliament as J Smith did and then it would be alright? The expenses scandal just rumbles on and on. What is so difficult for the MPs on this issue? On all sides of the house they just do not get it. The law is really not difficult, get a grip and do not disgrace us. That goes for all MPs and the lot in the EU. Someone must at some point be strong enough to say ENOUGH.

    • Alastair_93

      “Wisdom of the centuries”, yeah, like it was once the wisdom of the centuries that the world was flat. Argument from tradition is, and always will be, a weak argument.

  • ScaryBiscuits

    Miller may well be able to shrug off an investigation by fellow politicians. She may have more trouble with the police.
    The cover-up is often worse than the original offence; she and those acting on her behalf have commited blackmail (which carries a maximum tarrif of 14 years) in trying to threaten the Telegraph into suppressing the story.

    • TomTom

      Fraud is also an interesting offence

  • LB

    Baroness Warsi survived


    Two fingers to us from the scroungers.

    Quite why the Clerk of Parliaments investigated his own handling of the expenses, and then made it a state secret.

    Ho hum, nothing like the stench of a cover up.

  • Vulture

    [Sigh!] Another day, another pathetic little liar and greedy cheat exposed. We are governed by moral pygmies who don’t know the meaning of right or wrong, let alone shame.

  • Bluesman

    As we know being a known thief and liar is no bar to government. She could discuss the issue with David Laws, for example.

    Now, what is the current definition of “dependents”, perhaps Tony McNulty could provide advice.

    • TomTom

      best to look at “dependants” – the noun always has an “a” and the adjective an “e” but your point is nevertheless very well made

      • Bluesman

        Damn these spool chukkas!

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