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.