First cheques, now jobs
First they wrote cheques; now they're beginning to pay with their jobs.
Andrew MacKay has resigned as David Cameron's parliamentary aide after admitting that the taxpayer is paying for both his homes. He was able to double-dip into the public purse because he's married to another Conservative MP, Julie Kirkbride. She claimed for one home; he claimed for another.
This means that all eyes are now on how Gordon Brown handles the case of the former minister Elliot Morley. No-one can claim that his allowances were within the rules.
He claimed £800 a month for 20 months for a mortgage he no longer had. The word last night from Labour sources was that he had made a mistake and that he had done the right thing by rectifying it. The tone today is markedly different.
There is now, I should note, a growing gulf between party leaders and their MPs. Tories are complaining to me about what one calls "summary mob justice" in which all are judged guilty so that the good are punished while the real bad guys escape lightly.
Voluntary repayments by the shadow cabinet of legitimate claims for furniture, repair works or gardening were repaid, I was told, as "the price of David Cameron's press release". The tariff for extravagance has been set high. What will be the tariff for flagrant breach of the rules?