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Why has Labour’s response to Maria Miller taken so long – and why has Cameron’s been so weak?

4 April 2014

The response of both parties to the Maria Miller row has been very strange. Labour has waited until today to make a comment, with Chi Onwurah saying in the last half an hour that David Cameron’s ‘weakness and double standards on the issue of Maria Miller’s expenses are totally unacceptable and completely out of touch’. Labour is warning that ‘we must have the very highest standards in public office’ and ‘there can be no going back to the bad old days of expenses’. But why did it take 24 hours to come up with that response?

As for the Prime Minister, why did the man who made political capital out of the expenses scandal in 2009 by responding so forcefully to it give his ‘warm’ support to Maria Miller this week? Why not insist on contrition in the Commons? Perhaps the Prime Minister assumes that ditching the Culture Secretary or at the very least giving her a public dressing down would remind voters of those bad old days and make them sufficiently angry again to hate the political establishment even more. That assumes, though, that doing very little is an approach that in no way harms the Conservatives. I’m not sure that assumption is right.

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  • SilentHunter

    I take it the Sarwar comment was too hot to handle then? ;o)

    Mustn’t upset the lawyers must we.

  • Alan Mowat

    Yes I think she should go as she’s overly arrogant, cheats and is a hypocrite, but hang on dosen’t this apply to many MPs

  • davidhill

    How a minister can stay in office when she purportedly made £1.5 million on a property where she claimed £90,000 of taxpayer’s funds and was made to pay back a measly £5,800, smacks at cronyism and a law for politicians and a law for the people. With the parliamentary committee (no matter whether they were independent members or not) exonerating her, things haven’t really changed now have they Mr. Cameron? I am not a misogynist either Prime Minister making these comments, just someone who unlike politicians, knows what’s right and what is wrong (my working-class parents brought me up that way and clearly others who should know better, do not).

    Indeed the establishment has never really changed their mind-set and it is no wonder that democracy has died a death in reality in the UK when one considers the people are now just mere pawns in the political game of self-interest and personal fortune at the expense of the British people.

    Dr. David Hill
    World Innovation Foundation

  • MalcolmRedfellow

    How did the Committee on Standards revise the Commissioner’s finding *down* by some 88%?

    Well, here’s a thought:

    The Chairman of the Standards Committee “claimed £1,500 a month to rent a home belonging to Jon Trickett, the shadow Cabinet Office minister responsible for highlighting government sleaze.” []

    Sir Paul Beresford, the most senior Tory on that Committee, “worked out a deal with the House of Commons fees office whereby he put three quarters of the running costs of [his dental surgery] on the taxpayer”.

    Christopher Chope “who employs his wife Christine as his secretary, transported the sofa from his second home in London to a tradesman near his main residence in his constituency of Christchurch, Dorset.

    “Mr Chope also used his additional costs allowance (ACA) to fund the £10,377 repair of the roof of the 200-year-old London house that he jointly owns with his wife. He kitted out the property with a bathroom costing more than £2,600 to buy and install – again on the taxpayer.

    “In March last year the MP submitted the bill for £881.25 to strip down and recover the Chesterfield sofa. The Dorset craftsman sent the invoice to Mr Chope’s constituency home even though he claimed the cost for his second home.”

    And Nick Harvey, the Lib Dem MP for North Devon, had that interesting moment when he attended a Remembrance Day commemoration.

    All of which I am repeating myself from

  • Frank

    Delaying sacking her, both as a minister and as an MP damages Dave and the Tories more as each day passes. As the outrage grows, demands will be made for the police to investigate and for the MP members of the Standards Committee to stand down. That Dave does not get the above is, like his incomprehension over criticism of employing Andy Coulson, his covert support for Rebekah Wade, etc, just further clear evidence of both Dave’s arrogance and his stupidity (yes I know he went to Oxford, but how else do you categorise it?).

  • Man in a Shed

    Cameron owes Miller for carrying out his unholy abomination of redefining everyone’s marriage.

  • McClane

    I bet she made sure she’d paid her TV licence. Otherwise she would have been in *real* trouble.

    • davidshort10

      True enough.

  • Des Demona

    I must be bored, I’ve just read the full report

    Apparently the difference between the 44k and the 5.8k is due to different interpretations of the Green Book.

    ”137. Paragraph 3.11.1 of the 2005 Green Book, which was in force when Mrs Miller entered
    the House, made plain that the mortgage costs which could be claimed were
    “limited to the interest paid on repayment or endowment mortgages, legal and
    other costs associated with obtaining (and selling) that home (eg stamp duty,
    valuation fees, conveyance, land search, removal expenses)”

    The commissioner took the view that mortgage interest claimed was only payable on the original mortgage of the property (220k)
    Miller claimed interest on the mortgage she had when entering parliament (420k and latterly £575k)
    The committee seems to take the view that the latter was the correct interpretation.
    The 5.8k is the amount Miller calculates she somehow inadvertently over-claimed claimed on the 420k and that it is nothing to do with attempting to claim on the additional 150k she re-mortgaged (and surprisingly has no clear recollection of what she did with the dosh).

  • Des Demona

    From the standards committee press release

    ”Press reporting: The Committee on Standards deals with complex matters. Its reports and associated documents provide clear, detailed explanations of its reasoning and decisions. The Committee expects its reports to speak for themselves. All journalists who have inquired about this matter have been directed by staff to the relevant sections of the report.
    If the report is supposed to speak for itself then why can’t I figure out how the regulator got to 44k and the MP’s got to 5.8k?

    If it is based on her mortgage increasing by 150k then why is the taxpayer funding her borrowing against her property?

  • southerner

    Because it would require an ounce of principle and/or backbone. He has neither. Same as the rest of the liblabcon.

  • david trant

    Tom McNulty a minster in the Labour government found guilty of exactly the same offence had to resign and then was booted out of office at the GE. The problem starts with the blatant lie that MP’s need a second home in London, they need accommodation perhaps but not a second home. Miller is the MP for Basingstoke 40 minutes from Waterloo a commutable distance. Martin Salter when he was a Reading MP commuted I suggest Ms Miller along with quite a few others should consider doing the same.

  • ButcombeMan

    What Miller did was inexcusable and more than just Cameron should hang their heads in shame.

    She had a family home, with a mortgage in London.

    She got a job, mainly based in London, but which required her to visit Basingstoke (just a short non stop fast train ride with very frequent and late service) especially at weekends. She was required to stay in Basingstoke overnight some times. Reasonably (just, maybe) she rented a house there. I say maybe because 100s commute from and to Basingstoke very easily.

    In what other walk of life would it be appropriate for her to claim mortgage payments on her FAMILY HOME in London, over several years and even increase the mortgage and the claims?

    What extraordinary mind set does she have that makes her think her so doing was appropriate?

    What mindset do the committee have, who sat in judgement and let her off so much repayment? What mindset does Cameron have in supporting her?

    Any Civil Servant who did what she did would be dismissed. They would be very lucky not to be prosecuted.

    No wonder UKIP is rising in the polls. Cameron has made yet another grievous error of judgement. The whole affair is appalling

    Oh and the reason Labour took so long to respond is no doubt because there were checks going on to make sure they had no other, buried, but similar, scandals.


  • Smithersjones2013

    Why have Labour taken so long? Probably checking to make sure none of theirs are not guilty of the same thing (after all Labour’s rogues gallery of expenses cheats is enormous)….

    They are right though Cameron’s actions are typically duplicitous. If it had been someoe on the right of the party they would have been public and unceremoniously berated by their leader but as it is one of Cameron’s sad sycophantic bovine supporters he does nothing.

    Miller should have gone by now. She is a dreadful Minister who will be of no loss to this country………

  • MirthaTidville

    Can`t help noticing your banner headline…Why has Cameron been so weak??…answers on a postcard please

  • edithgrove

    From the Telegraph: “Her aides pointed to her role in deciding the future of press regulation when The Telegraph first contacted them with inquiries about her expenses.”

  • RavenRandom

    Labour said little because they are vulnerable on the issue. The delay was a calculation of “what if” the Tories raise ghosts about Labour expenses… Mr Balls for instance and his house flipping. Obviously they now feel the balance of damage is worth it.

    • alabenn

      Obviously they now feel the balance of damage is worth it
      That if correct would be an indication that Balls is for the chop, do you think Miliband has the balls, ( an apt word in the circumstances )

      • RavenRandom

        No. Though too disruptive, civil war territory, field day for newspapers. Though if they win if I was Miliband I’d can him immediately.

  • alabenn

    Labour have taken so long to respond because they know that a lot of their own are doing something similar.
    The Tories will be spending more time on Labour MPs financial returns than they did on the budget.

  • anyfool

    Labour could also say that, we are quite good at double standards, we are much better than the Tories.
    Our own financial wizard Ed Balls and his wife done the taxpayer for ten times what that Miller woman got, so there.

    • Shazza

      And our dearly missed, beloved leader, trust me kinda bloke, our Tone said ‘oops, I shred my expenses by mistake’.

  • Tron

    It was the sight of Hunt and the other “top Tories” crowding around to support her when she gave the traditional 30 second non-apology that made me sick.

    It really is Us and Them.

  • WatTylersGhost

    MPs – “all in it together”
    That’s your answer.

  • realfish

    Why have Labour waited so long?

    For the same reason they always do, to see which way the bandwagon will roll before they climb aboard. It goes like this:

    – Cameron supports Miller, he is weak.
    – Cameron sacks a female minister (cleared of the allegations made against her), it’s more evidence of Cameron’s ‘woman problem’.

  • Alb Einstein

    They are all troughers and not fit to be in government.

  • sarah_13

    Miller should have resigned, and Cameron should have encouraged her to do so rather than defend an incompetent arrogant woman just because she is a woman. I am a Tory voter but he constantly demonstrates a lack of judgment, its very depressing. He should stop apologising for who he is, a white man who went to Eton, and get on governing. Most women don’t care whether there are women in parliament, what they want is competent people. He has to make the case for competence not the case for any old woman to remain as a minister just because she’s a woman.

    • Holly

      Why should Miller have resigned just because she expected the accusers/
      those trying to prove her guilt, find proof?
      Jumping up & down because some people do not like her is so juvenile.

      • sarah_13

        In my view she should resign because she’s incompetent, arrogant, and impervious to the fact that she is an elected politician who should not obstruct committees going about their business., nor should she try to use leverage against the press when she wants certain matters left alone. I am sure she can find an excuse as to why she designated her main home as her second home and why she over claimed her expenses and mortgage interest, those to me are minor matters compared to the freedom of the press.

        • telemachus

          Who would he put in to be sacked next

      • GnosticBrian

        Because she over claimed by £5,800 (committee figure) or £44,000 (regulator’s figure) AND had been very obstructive throughout the investigation. No class!

        • mikewaller

          I agree she should go and think that the threatening aide should be prosecuted, particularly as his immoral behaviour has been grist to the mills of the newspaper editors and proprietors who will twist any argument or example to avoid proper accountability.

          However, her main Labour critic claimed yesterday that nothing like this had ever happened before. However I seem to recall that the first Parliamentary Commissioner came a cropper (i.e. she was not re-appointed) when she quite properly objected to John Reid having fixed his son up with a job at public expense. Is my memory playing me false?

          • GnosticBrian

            Mike your memory is fine – Elizabeth Filkin moved from the role of Tax Adjudicator to Parliamentry Commissioner. Ms Filkin proved to be no pushover and, surprise surprise, MPs chose not to reappoint her.

          • telemachus

            He entered the cabinet in 1999 as Scottish secretary but his career was nearly ended when his lobbyist son Kevin was taped telling an undercover reporter: “I know the secretary of state very, very well, because he’s my father.”
            Different order of offence

      • Reconstruct

        She should have been sacked the moment she started to threaten journalists on her case with Levenson. She plainly considers abuse of power to be her prerogative – ie, prima facie not suitable for office.

        • Holly

          By all accounts it was a complaint against the way the press were harassing her father.
          Do not be fooled that our press are the best, they are the laziest bunch of useless cop out merchants, just behind Labour bods.
          Why fight for a cause, when you can just continue to push a non story….They have been doing it the easy way for decades.

  • kyalami

    Because it’s “us” (MPs) against “them” (the public). No matter what their political views, MPs close ranks when one of them is threatened by the real world.

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