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Chancellor in distress

Nick Robinson | 19:20 UK time, Monday, 1 June 2009

Never in the past two turbulent years has the chancellor looked more distressed or looked more likely to lose his job at the Treasury. More so even than after having to tear up his economic forecasts or admit to record falls in growth and rises in borrowing.

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Alistair Darling's first response to the Telegraph's claims about him was to robustly deny the charges that he had simultaneously claimed for two homes or "flipped" his house claims to make a profit or inappropriately claimed the cost of an accountant to manage his tax affairs. The prime minister too declared that he was sure that his "friend" had done nothing wrong.

By the end of the day though, Mr Darling had paid money back and apologised for another - and he claims inadvertent - mistake altogether, not repaying his claim for the service charge on his second home after he'd rented it out.

Though he still has the prime minister's public backing, there is a sense in Whitehall that Mr Darling's time as chancellor may be coming to an end. Long before the expenses saga, some close to Gordon Brown had argued that Labour needed a more political and more aggressive man at the Treasury.

It will be a source of huge frustration and personal sadness to Alistair Darling if, after he leaves the Treasury, people assume that it is because of some abuse of the expenses system. Perhaps that is why he was visibly upset through much of my interview with him.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Brown today defies belief claiming he is the best man for the job. How so far removed can one individual actually get. You are despised Gordon. Sticking around only amplifies that. One day we will look back on all this and wonder in amazement at how you managed to stay there for so long. It says very little about the other MP's. We need a radical overhaul NOW!

  • Comment number 2.

    "More so even than after having to tear up his economic forecasts or admit to record falls in growth and rises in borrowing."

    Sorry, I must have missed the Chancellor's announcement that the forecasts in the PBR and the Budget were works of pure fiction. I also didn't catch his admission that growth would undershoot his forecast, or that borrowing would exceed it. Do you have a link where I can find these startlingly honest pronouncements. It may begin to restore my faith in open and honest government.

    "It will be a source of huge frustration and personal sadness to Alistair Darling if, after he leaves the Treasury, people assume that it is because of some abuse of the expenses system."

    As opposed to assuming he was just rubbbish at his job, presumably?

    He may yet recoup some of his lost political capital if he stands up in Parliament and does a "Geoffrey Howe" to rid the country of the useless Crashmeister once and for all.

  • Comment number 3.

    Tell you what, Nick, between them these MPs make a bloody lot of mistakes. What a good job they're not doing anything important like running the country.........err.

  • Comment number 4.

    If his demise (in the event of its happening) is *not* because of his inability to keep his own accounts in order, what would the reason be? Being unable to unravel the mess left by the previous occupant of No 11, perhaps. Not even Paul Daniels could manage that.

    I would argue that all Government Ministers, like Caesar's wife, must be above suspicion, but that is a target that very few would appear to be able to meet.

    When he accepted the Chancellorship he took possession of a poison chalice; if he had any sense of personal honour he would now resign, and make the normal resignation statement to the house; although it might be an act of self - immolation he would emerge with some integrity remaining given the impossible task that he has been given.

    I actually feel sorry for him. But only slightly.

  • Comment number 5.

    Taking over from Brown, the Chancellorship was always going to be a poisoned chalice. It's much too easy to blame Darling for our economic woes when the foundations of this disaster were laid by his predecessor.

    Yes, of course there is a Global dimension to the crisis, but Brown's years of tax-and-waste have left us horribly exposed.

    Perhaps Brown may think that he can achieve some sort of short term bounce by dumping Darling, but changing chancellor now will achieve nothing.

    It's the whole government that needs to go, and go now.

  • Comment number 6.

    Is he in distress? His situation seems less dire than many others of all political colours who are still quite happily in their posts. The timing of this is so entirely political... to coincide with the county council and European elections... it is almost ludicrous.
    The one solution is to make the democratic process fairer. Proportional Representation is long overdue and would change the political spectrum in parliament for good.
    We should teach the democratic process as early as possible in schools. Make using your vote compulsory or at least easier to accomplish and organise proportional representation. Then we might lessen the pointless and wasteful political point scoring between the main parties and the Government can concentrate on essentials rather than knee jerk reactions to media top stories. And the opposition parties can do what they are supposed to do, debate and criticise new legislation and represent the people who voted them in.

  • Comment number 7.


    Darling should be removed from the Treasury, ideally at the same time this entire government is removed from power.

    It's clear they blundered on regardless and assumed that they were bigger than the global financial storm brewing. So while they might not have directly caused the problems in the UK their total lack of preparedness means that everybody is going suffer unnecessarily.

    I guess the time is right to say, "move over Darling"

  • Comment number 8.

    Nick, he's Toast and you know it.

    I feel sorry for him he is now Browns fall guy for the dire state of the economy, he has been troughing but so has the rest of the Cabinet, but I will have a Bet he takes some Flack NOT because of his economic failings but for his interpretation of the Green Book.

    This won't get Brown of the hook much as Brown would like it to, the Public can still see him for what he is and apart from possibly your good self they don't like what they see.

    Come on Nick give us the gen! on Friday the new Chancellor will be Ed Balls will it not??

    I like many others await the lifting of the injunction on his and Yvettes expenses with eagerness

  • Comment number 9.

    Wow Nick, 2 blogs in one day!

    Still think you are too easy on these miscreants. You ask all the right questions but never go for coup -de- grace.

    Please , please get a bit tougher on them.

  • Comment number 10.

    Secretly Alistair must be relieved that he will no longer be Chancellor. Trying to do the job of Chancellor with Gordon Brown interfering all the time must have been a nightmare. The question that still vexes many is, why were Hazel Blears and Ms Smith not thrown to the, "wolves," by Brown. He still gives them his full support; but in a single day Brown has gone from giving his friend Alistair his fullest support to strongly hinting that he will be removed from his current post in a pending reshuffle. Brown has definitely lost it. His judgement is all over the place. He just does not know what to do next. Time he called it a day.

  • Comment number 11.


    Darling is being lined up as the fall-guy for the cabinet expenses scandal and by the look and tone of him in your interview I think he knows he's doomed.

    I sense an angry mood in the parliamentary Labour Party where there seems to be one rule for backbenchers and another for Brown's cronies in the top tier of government.

    We may have to wait to see how this plays out with a reshuffle after the rout on Thursday but with Brown refusing to budge I wonder if there's a mood of growing anger and frustration at Westminster which chimes with voters who want Brown out now?

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/does-party-have-to-wait-until-fun.html

  • Comment number 12.

    The thing about the Tax Accountant - well guys I have to say that my company paid for my Tax Accountant when I was seconded to the US for 15 months, and rightly so. I would never have had a chance to sort out the Tax personally, even though I have no problems with my normal Tax. Darling must be in a similar position. People really shouldn't comment on what they don't understand.

    I think Darling seems a pretty decent chap. Maybe not the brightest star in the sky, but I'd lend him a tenner and expect to get it back.

  • Comment number 13.

    It's time for the general public to take control.

    The electorate must petition their MPs to demand a change of government.
    The Local and Euro elections are a good start for everyone to vote either Conservative, Liberal or Independent.
    Giving Gordon a bloody nose in the up and coming elections is not enough.
    Now that we see in the latest polls that Looney Lefty Labour is in 3rd place, they are on the brink of political extinction.
    Let's use democracy to consign these political dinosaurs to the bone-yard.

    As Albert the wise stated many years ago: -

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. (or in this case the same Government)

    Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. (We know how careless with the truth the Labour lefties are)

    The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive. (This neatly sums up those greedy, grabbing MPs hooked on expenses like a snort of cocaine)

    On behalf of the general public ZIM DEMANDS CHANGE .Muhahaaaaaaa..

  • Comment number 14.

    Mr Darling - is it allright then to claim advance expenses because if it is can I claim expenses against tax for the next year in advance? - I don't think so!

  • Comment number 15.

    #newtactic

    But this was inevitable wasn't it? Anyone with any nous would have known this week would be reserved for damaging the government big guns in a blatant attempt to influence the votes this week. A token Tory, Michael Howard, was thrown into the mix as a pathetic attempt at evenhandedness, but who is interested in a failed Tory Leader. This is so contrived it is pathetic. But most on here would not recognise political manipulation if it kicked them in the a**e.

  • Comment number 16.

    Popular political terms translated into English: -
    Honourable Member - A person lacking morals and brimming with greed.
    Expenses - Something for nothing, the ultimate barter system.
    Summer recess - 12 week all expenses paid holiday.
    Mobile Phone - Projectile
    Printer - Large Projectile
    Prime Minister - Poltergeist
    Nappy - Item claimed on expenses for personal use.
    Electorate - Strange creatures easily influenced by celebrity
    Apology - Forced confession
    Flipping - A somersault to celebrate a tax free property deal
    Blears - A clumsy series of somersaults (ref. flipping)
    Brown - A stain on underwear as a result of too much flipping
    Hoon - A Tax free property portfolio
    Darling - To live beyond your means
    Speaker - Large empty vessel
    Cabinet - A large cupboard to hide expense claims
    MP - Multiple Properties
    MEP - More Euros Please

    These definitions were a small sample taken from the MPs big book of lies available now from all good constituency surgeries.

  • Comment number 17.

    If Darling understands peoples anger he would resign!

    Nick - stop being so sympathetic - he does not deserve it!

  • Comment number 18.

    Why only Darling reign coming to an end, for lets face facts Nick ALL M.P.s' Reigns should now be at an end and this Parliament desolved, for if both Brown and Cameron were to SACK all those M.P.s' including Front - Bench Ministers like Darling whom by their Actions has shown themselves in the Court of Public opinion to have cheated on their Expenses Claims, and are expected to step - down having "Shamed" their Parties trust, and the Taxpayers due to their Actions, then why don't the Party Leaders again SACK these indivisual M.P.s' and force Local By - Elections so that the People can decide whom they want, and more importantly trust too further represent them when it comes to the needs of cleaning up in Political Arena at Westminster.

    Nothing else will now do.

  • Comment number 19.

    Personally I just think that Mr Darling is being thrown to the wolves.

    Plenty more still can be - after all Labour are forecast to lose 200 seats at the next election.

    "If someday it should happen that a scapegoat must be found,
    I have a little list, I have a little list
    Of Parliamentary offenders, whose names are thrown around
    They never will be missed, they never will be missed.
    There's the darling Chancellor who likes to flip his home
    And claim ACA allowance on any but his own
    And mps claiming benefits on mortgages they've paid
    Just because the paperwork seems to have gone astray
    But all of them the rules that they've kept insist
    They never will be missed, they never will be missed"

  • Comment number 20.

    This Trotskyist's entryism has finally been found out!

  • Comment number 21.

    Alistair was visibly upset?

    Not as upset as us poor taxpayers who have no compliant fees office to fall back on.

    Brown and his gang having a tough time is what dreams are made of after 12 years of spin and deceit.

    Voting will be such sweet pleasure.

  • Comment number 22.

    To be fair he might as well stay Labour have the same chance of forming a Government as BNP have .And lord Mandelson coming out a defending the ministers involved is incredible with his past record over home loans.

    We really do need a complete clear out but not until clear unambiguous rules written by people outside of parliament are put in place.

    Whether claims are within the rules of the House are now immaterial,all claims must past the same test that normal common people have to pass for Tax allowances,there should be a short moritorium while MP's assess their position and pay back what has been "inadvertantly" claimed after which time police action will be taken against those that have broken the law.

    It will take time to put this in place but MP's working through the summer on nothing else can manage it i'm sure....this will leave enough time for an election this time next year for us the public to have our say on who we believe has misrepresented us.

    We should then move on to the Euro mp's claims and do likewise leading a clean up europe campaign.

  • Comment number 23.

    Personally I don't believe Darling will be sacked. His misdemenour seems trivial compared to most, no worse than Brown or Cameron's and less worse than most, Mcloughlin's (tory Chief Whip) monthly £250 "petty Cash" claim for example which has received virtually no media scrutiny.

    AS for the elections on Thursday, Has any one ever known a run up to an election where the actual policy issues have been totally and completely ignored and the vote will be steered towards voter outrage on what is largely a non (party) political issue. This IMO was the whole point of of the timing of the Telegraph campaign. The recent Poll which stated by a ratio of 13 to 1 that the "scandal" was more damaging to the Government than opposition tells it all, how easily we're duped.

    Cameron, no fool when it comes to opportunism wants this to be the main issue at a GE in other words stifling any debate or scrutiny of anything to do with policy or lack of. Its feasible and even I suggest Politically desirable (for the Tories) to have an election without even the Economy being debated. How bizarre would that be in current circumstances?? but that's where I fear we're heading.

    Nevertheless I say "call an election" (a PR election that is)

  • Comment number 24.

    #12, it's all very well to say taxes are difficult. But guess what, they're difficult for all of us. When I had a combination of employment income, self-employment income, unearned income, and a few dribs and drabs of offshore income, I had to hire an accountant to figure it all out. But I had to pay for it myself, I couldn't just stick my hand out and get someone else to pay.

    If they don't like the conditions they can always write a letter to Comrade Brown and find something else to do.

  • Comment number 25.

    13 Invader said

    (This neatly sums up those greedy, grabbing MPs hooked on expenses like a snort of cocaine)
    ========================

    Couldn't agree more Invader, I hear the next Telegraph campaign will be aimed at exposing any MP who enjoyed a line or too.

    Looking forward to that, are you?

  • Comment number 26.

    Using taxpayers money to pay for accountancy advice to avoid paying tax is absolutely unforgivable.

    I'm self employed and staying in business is a struggle. Try even getting the inland revenue to allow you to spread your payment over a couple of months and they make you jump through hoops. I can't afford an accountant and have to do my own tax returns - the thought that this wealthy, privileged man is using our taxes to avoid paying his is as disgusting a thing as I've ever heard. Absolutely immoral.

    What makes it worse is the hypocrisy of ex-Marxists like Brown and Darling who profess to care for the poor and have no trouble taxing the working man and woman to the hilt to pay for their social engineering. And then they sneer in our faces by funding their own tax evasion at the peoples expense.

    If there is a hell it needs a new circle, and it will be packed with socialist hypocrites like Darling, Brown, Blears, Hoon and co.

    I can't tell you how much I hate them.

  • Comment number 27.

    The pure tragedy is that whilst this man has claimed and claimed, he has simultaneously worked to squeeze and squeeze the British public. Now he is in the throes of trying to borrow more from international investors so that our grandchildren - whatever age you are - will be paying for this.
    If this man deserves anything it is the door, no pension, no privileges. He has broken the rules, the spirit of the rules, and has little or no integrity to hold such an office. He should resign - but that is just not an option under Brown's moral compass - so he should be removed by Gordon - also not an option - so we must wait and exact our own form of retribution when we do finally have our democratic right to vote this good for nothing potentially fraudulent government from office.

  • Comment number 28.

    so it's "move over Darling" then, is it? - rather hope not because I quite like him - not sure it's great politics either because it raises a suspicion that the decision is driven not so much by wanting rid of AD, but more that Gordon desperately needs Balls (at number eleven)

  • Comment number 29.

    Mr Darling like all the rest will ride the storm - after all they get a very handsome payout at the end. Is it morally right that they should all get such generous 'resettlement' payouts partly tax free when others are losing their jobs and are not even earning that kind of money to start with. Should we not be asking all MP's to take a salary cut like others in the country. People are paying tax and NI's on much less than their £30,000.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    THE SLUM DOG MILLIONAIRE LIFE CYCLE CONTINUES.

    PLENTY OF FISCAL PRUDENCE WITH OTHER PEOPLES MONEY!!

    What else would WE expect from this GOVERNment?

  • Comment number 32.

    If losing Darling means that we get Ed Balls as Chancellor, that will be very bad news for the country.

    At least, or so it appears, Darling provided some sort of brake to Gordon's madness.

    Ed Balls, will be a disaster for the country.

    The only shining light is that Ed Balls appointment as Chancellor will be hilarious and further bury the Labour party in the dustbin of history.

    Darling only has himself to blame. He has had plenty of opportunity to do a "Geoffrey Howe" and end Gordon's economic madness a long time ago. Darling could have done the country a great service....... he still might, but it could look like sour grapes now if he calls time on Brown's insanity.

  • Comment number 33.

    Re: 3 jdtalwin

    This post is one of the funniest I have ever read. Well done jdtalwin !

  • Comment number 34.

    Could Darling be the BRICK IN THE WALL THAT HOLDS UP THIS PACK OF MARKED

    CARDS?

    POKER ANYONE??

  • Comment number 35.

    Well, if Darling is on the way out there are several more to go - Hoon, Purnell, Blears, Smith. And, of course, the big one - Brown himself. The sooner the better.

  • Comment number 36.

    Darling must be very frustrated that such a small item in the expenses has lead to this witch hunt. Especially as the results of his efforts to turn around the economy are now showing through. The housing market is on the move, the pound is rising again, stock markets are showing significant gains. It looks like the changes he has made have had more impact than most forecasters predicted. But while he was spending all his time sorting out failing bankers, a service charge already claimed for was not immediately repaid. Perhaps he should have taken his mind off sorting out the economy to correct his expenses. But then that would really have cost the taxpayers.

  • Comment number 37.

    Dear Nick,

    I for one, do not think he will go (Either pushed or 'Spending time with the family') because if you can have the likes of Hazel Blears secured at the top table, poor AD is very safe. (But i still could be wrong)

    Xxxx
    ps,
    Saw GB on The AM show dodging the resigning issue. Asked if he would either lead his party to the greatest electorial defeat ever, or stand down and let someone else try and save the party, he put himself above the needs of the party and refused to go.

    Says it all really.

  • Comment number 38.

    england rise @ 26

    I simply do not understand the thinking of people (people like you, based on your post, but forgive me if I'm leaping to false conclusions, wouldn't be the first time) whose anger at this MP expenses scam is directed almost entirely at Labour - can you explain that? - why are you not equally angry with the Conservatives? - or if not equally angry, at least, you know, moderately livid

  • Comment number 39.

    12. At 7:54pm on 01 Jun 2009, pete_in_halstead wrote:
    The thing about the Tax Accountant - well guys I have to say that my company paid for my Tax Accountant when I was seconded to the US for 15 months, and rightly so. I would never have had a chance to sort out the Tax personally, even though I have no problems with my normal Tax. Darling must be in a similar position. People really shouldn't comment on what they don't understand.

    I think Darling seems a pretty decent chap. Maybe not the brightest star in the sky, but I'd lend him a tenner and expect to get it back.

    ===

    Are you mad? He's the Chancellor of the Exchequer for goodness sake! He's the man in charge of the whole tax system, if he needs a tax accountant what does that say about him?

    a) The job is beyond him.

    b) The tax system is far too complicated.

    c) Both a) and b).

  • Comment number 40.

    New Labour has been a phallicy that's had us all over a barrel!

  • Comment number 41.

    I guess WHEN thursdays EURO VOTE IN ANNOUCED they WILL wonder why the BNP
    & UKIP Flush them OUT of OFFICE.

    I wonder how many RECOUNTS??

  • Comment number 42.

    Thank God Darling is going.

    He is a likeable man and I would much prefer someone I dislike intensely like Balls. I don't know why but the old badger has something about him that is quite loveable.

    The exes scandal provides Gordon with a reason to elevate his Hermann Goering look-alike chum, Balls, to the plate.

  • Comment number 43.

    They say that advertising is on its back.
    Picture the Scene.

    Darling : "MOMMY"
    Mommy : " Yes, Darling"
    Darling : " Is that a "New" Washing Powder?
    Mommy : " YES DARLING ! "
    Darling : " What is it Called ? "
    Mommy : " NEW IMPROVED LABOUR !!"
    Darling : " Doe's it removed all those Brown stains I was covered
    in with when I was playing with Gordon ??"
    Mommy : " Why Yes, of course Darling"
    Darling : " But Why, MOMMY.
    Mommy : " Because DARLING : NEW IMPROVED LABOUR WHITE - WASHES WHITER
    THAN WHITE, AND IT SHOWS "
    Darling : ECK, CAN I GO BACK TO PLAYING HOUSY - HOUSY NOW, MOMMY,
    MOMMY - MOMMY!!!"

  • Comment number 44.

    I must say I'm inclined to agree with sagamix. Darling always seemed a man of quiet dignity, and somewhat more integrity than a lot of people. He didn't create any of this mess, and he seems to have tried his utmost to get us out of it, I hope he manages to survive the push.

  • Comment number 45.

    Nick Robinson, BBC Political Correspondent at 19:20 on 01June 2009.

    Nick Robinson wrote: "Chancellor in Distress"....."there is a sense in Whitehall that Mr Darling's time as chancellor may be coming to an end".

    Andfinally at 3:08pm on 01 Jun 2009.

    Andfinally wrote: "After Thursday's election results, Darling will be removed from his post at the Treasury and replaced by Ed Balls".

    ==========

    As the BBC's leading Political Correspondent, you really do need to keep up.

    It's not rocket science; it's the art of stating the bleeding obvious.

    The Bloggers on this site tell you all this kind of stuff for free whereas, and this is what really makes my blood boil, you get paid vast amounts by us to release the information as when the government Press Office deem it right and proper.

    You know AD is going but you've been told to float the story so it builds momentum and shows GB to be acting decisively in his own dithering way.

    You also know that Ballster is going to replace the doomed 'Chancellor' but all in good time folks; keep 'em guessing.

    If you want to know who else will be replaced in the forthcoming re-shuffle, try Smith, Blears, McNulty and just keep going.

    GB will still be leader but he will have no one to lead.

    Come on Nick, you know what's coming; don't keep us in suspense. Tell us now.

    And I'll you this as well for nothing.

    The purge of the Cabinet after the EU elections will look like a political version of colonic irrigation but at least GB will be able to the Opposition benches and say 'No flies on me, Dave!"

  • Comment number 46.

    nuLABOUR was just a PONZI flush.The OLDEST trick in the BOOK.

  • Comment number 47.

    I dont think it will make ay difference? What will relace him and what will be done differently? That what i thought, nothing! Though it was totaly wrong to do what he did so i guess he should go for that reason.

  • Comment number 48.

    Which are the two words that Cameron most dreads

    a) Proportional Representation

    or

    b)Economic Recovery

    I'd say a) but never mind a compliant media will make sure neither get any air time.

  • Comment number 49.

    Nick, youve been missed at such an interesting time.

    Alistair said: MPs' office costs could be complicated... and it was important to make sure his returns were completed accurately. Every individual Tax Return is complicated perhaps something to do with the nature of the law from his department.

    As a citizen, and especially as a decent citizen, I want to "make sure I pay the correct amount of tax". As an ex-employee of HMRC though, I dont think want is enough of a reason for mistakes if most of us err, although it would be "upsetting" if our personal integrity was "impugned".

    Most of us have tried to behave properly, to do the right thing, the proper thing, throughout our time, but we still face consequences when we dont do the right thing and the arbitrary judge is well-established: the taxman in our case; the electorate in MPs case.

    As for Gordon, he told BBC Radio 4's Today he was not "arrogant" or "unwilling to listen" but would "stay on to do the job" before calling a general election. "I'm the best person to clean up the political system," he added.

    Mr Brown said: "I think the cleaning up of the political system is best done by someone who has got a clear idea of what needs to be done - and I have."

    The voters are developing a clear idea of their own (maybe Esther, although gratefully not in my constituency), and it takes such an arrogant position not to recognise that now. If he is the best person, he has the summer to convince us and well vote him in.

  • Comment number 50.

    I guess the tipping point really is going to be next week's election results. I can't wait. It's going to be like Christmas.

    Labour MPs' superbly tuned sense of self interest (quite as well developed as that of the Tories and Lib Dems) will immediately force a leadership challenge. Why not? What have they got to lose?

    However, nobody is going to take the the poisoned chalice to drink from straight away! Whoever wins will be playing a longer game. The new leader will assume the brightest crusader emblem and secretly welcome an election. He will have written the party off this time. He will be planning for the next election!

    Expect nauseating false honesty, repentance and promises of root and branch party reform. Anyway, who cares if nothing comes of it - it'll be a job and expenses for another five years


  • Comment number 51.

    I completely share Alaistair Darlings frustration. He makes a claim that he believes to be within the rules. He makes an understandable error with the overlap of advance charges. When his attention is drawn to it he corrects it and apologies for it. But in the present climate of witch hunting he finds himself being crucified. The central issue is not expenses but how we govern ourselves and who governs us. At the moment it would seem to be the Daily Telegraph. If the M.P.'s expenses had been published in total, as intended, it is difficult not to believe that we would be scrutinising the system and rules that the majority of M.P.s have been conforming to not witch hunting individuals . There are difficult issues relating to freedom of information and thoughtful and balanced consideration of policy. If we are to continue to be governed as we have been in the past few weeks, we might look forward to capital punishment, corporal punishment, chemical castration sex offenders. There is no might about the likelihood that parties that would support extreme and simplistic solutions will benefit in the forthcoming European elections, as Clare Short has pointed out. Alaistair Darling should not be sacrificed to the crowd.

  • Comment number 52.

    We all know that Darling is history, because he showed up his boss during the bank rescuing. He is to be replaced by someone who will not - Ed Balls, Brown's annointed successor.

    Balls became an MP in 2005. Two years later (two years!) he entered the Cabinet and now a mere two years (two years!) after that he's to have one of the 3 top jobs in Govt, after the PM.

    Totally a case of Who You Know.

    It is total insanity to promote such an inexperienced Parliamenarian to such a top job. But we all expect nothing less from Brown

  • Comment number 53.

    alister darling should go so should the majority of the cabinet, their behaviour is amongst the worse of all the troughers, hoons 1,000,000 property portfolio and he offers to pay back £300 odd, what a mickey take.
    Gobrown should call an election now, he and his government are completely discredited, Mori poll 'westminster' Con 40% LIB 18% LAB 18%.

    o/t BBC reports from Washington..Whitehouse to extend invitation to our Queen for D Day commemorations, so gobrown screw your belief that HM should come begging you to get her invitation.

  • Comment number 54.

    Hi Nick,

    "Though he [Darling] still has the prime minister's public backing..."

    Have you been getting your news via text message again? Brown did anything but. Indeed, he repeatedly REFUSED to back him, or to say whether he would still be chancellor in 10 days' time. I thought I saw you there - maybe not, eh?

    BTW: Good to see you blogging again. You take more holidays that Fergie.

    See you in the pub.

  • Comment number 55.

    Do I see a couple of bananna skins lurking behind the Chancellor? Who do you think was responsible?

  • Comment number 56.

    #51

    The point is that the expenses would NOT have been published unexpurgated by the government. Had the Telegraph not got its teeth into the leaked info, it would have been sanitised and we would be none the wiser.

    We certainly don't have the government we deserve, but least we've got a free Press to be proud of!

  • Comment number 57.

    You would think that after 2 weeks of this stuff the Labour Spin Doctors would have replaced the script, the usual thing, from its a mistake in the morning to paying back some money in the afternoon.

    Its only a mistake when you get caught it seems, maybe fraud cases from now on could have the "its a mistake and I will pay back what I owe as I got caught" plea added, it might save on the usual penalties imposed on the non MP members of the country.

    Will any of these people actually face the real law of the land or are they excluded?

    The only hope is that Labour face single digit returns this week, its the only message that they might understand as everything else goes over their heads.

  • Comment number 58.

    Well I feel let down. I actually thought Alistair Darling was a basically honest guy, trying to do a decent job despite an interfering and meddlesome boss. Now it is evident that he is just like all the rest.

    How, in the name of democracy, can we rid ourselves of this rotten parliament? Must we suffer another twelve months while those who haven't the decency to step down continue to draw their salary and expenses until they must face the electorate.

    Must we endure another twelve months of a prime minister completely lacking public support runs the country into the ground?

    Then must we elect another bunch for another five-year term and watch the same rot unfold?

    We need an election now - but to elect a parliament that will sit for twelve months only - with a brief to reform both houses before fresh elections for a new full term take place. We need competent people at this time of econmic crisis, free from careerism and the party whips.

  • Comment number 59.

    #48:

    David Cameron is not the one who will be doing the worrying this week end. That man is at present pacing the rooms of Number 10 planning to throw his toys out of the Cabinet pram. If he chooses to insert the lightweight and useless Ed Balls into The Chancellor's position he will have finally signed his own political death warrant.

  • Comment number 60.

    If Balls gets the keys to No11, what happens to the delightful Yvette. You couldn't possibly have a pair of Balls at the treasury, surely? Husband and wife in the same department would be distinctly unhealthy, so where will she go?

  • Comment number 61.

    I guess the only comfort for that ex-glove puppet Chancellor when he leaves will be the fact that Labour still has the support of a whole 18% of the electorate according to the latest IPSOS Mori poll.

    Wow - nearly 1 in 5 of my fellow citizens are just as delusional as this government.

  • Comment number 62.

    #48 Eaton

    I don't think FPTP is the way ahead any more than PR is. However, somewhere out there must be a system that must be fairer and more represenative than the current one.

    There is no reason for Dave to be running scared of PR; you only have to look at the polls to see that even with PR the Conservatives would be strong enough to lead the political agenda, although I do agree they would be held in check should they be stupid enough to try and introduce such ludicrous policies such as 42 day detention or ID Cards etc.

    As for economic recovery, it will come at some stage even if the Greens get into power. Do not be fooled despite the odd spike of good news. Forget the stockmarkets. The economic recovery will come when unemployment figures start coming down over a prolonged period and that is not likely to happen for a while and probably not before next June. There is still a lot of bad economic news beyond these shores. The IMF is still an option.

    If you are being drawn in by stories about green shoots, that is exactly why the government has reacted to this crisis by throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the crash. When you have maxed the credit card, how best to prolong the spending orgy? Why go and get another one.

    However, in the end we will all pay and that is why Dave is running more angry than scared.

  • Comment number 63.

    Tony Blair is the real villian in this epic saga.
    He adeptly paved the way for the depantsing of Great Britain.
    Political correctness, Political spin, Warmongering, excessive legislation as well as cultivating and encouraging the development of the foul mouthed and loutish subclass who will always vote efffing labour.
    Ofcourse Tony knew when the boat was about to sink and like the other rats made his timely escape.

    I don't belive Gordon Brown is a bad man, he is a man most eloquently described by Jeremy Clarkson.
    Gordon Brown like the proverbial mule with a spinning wheel, ended up in power. Darned if he knows how he got it and darned if he knows how to use it.
    I don't believe Darling is a bad man either, greedy and stupid yes, but not bad.
    These poor tragic men are suffering.
    They are out of their depth.
    The tidal wave of world events has overtaken them and they are drowning in a cruel sea of mishaps and missed opportunities.
    Things can only get worse if they stay in power.
    Things can only get worse if Ed is given the opportunity to make a Balls of it.

    Tony Blair is the only winner, we are all losers.
    We were played for fools and we are now paying for all of his mistakes.
    We now live in Blair's bleak vision of Britain.
    Multicultural yet divided, political correctness choking the life out of our freedom of speech.
    Multitudes of people homeless while councils demolish houses for profit.
    We top the world league tables for all things bad, teenage pregnancy, knife crime, binge drinking, unhappiness.
    Just like in the 1970's Labour has broken the back of Britain.
    We have been stripped of our national pride and the Great British people have devolved into a nation of poorly eductated, bad mannered, drunken Yobs.
    Once again Britian is the tired and dirty old man of Europe.

  • Comment number 64.

    WE really are back to the 70's "CRISIS WHAT CRISIS", are these people

    blind stupid deaf or just SOMETHING ELSE??

  • Comment number 65.

    It strikes me as slightly odd that the Labour Party feels it is acceptable to (apparently) brief against the Chancellor whilst at the same time denying the British people the right to elect a new government on the grounds that this would create economic instability.

    I just hope Darling isn't humiliated if he is demoted - he strikes me as having been one of the more open ministers since 1997, albeit one who gives the impression of having been promoted above his ability. Then again, perhaps if he is treated harshly he will bite the hand that feeds him, a la Geoffrey Howe (although I doubt he has the stomach for it).

  • Comment number 66.

    48
    The media were compliant during Labours last 3 wins. PR only suits Labour now that they are stuffed.

    Cameron is getting off lightly on his mortgages, goes to show how pathetic Labour are if the Cons are on 40%.




  • Comment number 67.

    Re57.
    A mistake in the morning to paying it back in the afternoon.

    Imagine this then as a concept ie: The Great Train Robbers at the Old Bailey.
    " Er, Yer Sorry my Lord, got caught this time. Psss: alright if we pay back 10 Pounds down and weekly installment of another 10 eh.

  • Comment number 68.

    Nick says Alistair Darling still has the PMs backing, how many times have we heard that one before?
    Ill take that as a metaphor that he will be gone by next week then.
    Better take Brown with him since Darling only ever paid lip service to the job anyway.

  • Comment number 69.

    "It will be a source of huge frustration and personal sadness to Alistair Darling if, after he leaves the Treasury, people assume that it is because of some abuse of the expenses system"

    I don't assume. The facts speak for themselves don't they? If I had a set of paperwork like Darling's to support my discussions with HMR&C as they investigated my tax affairs, I'm not sure it would be too long before I was being moved towards HMR&C's legal department. Waving a cheque in the taxman's face would be of little help I imagine.

    What is it with politicians that makes them exempt from the great, bludgeoning, disinterested, non-negotiating HMR&C - the same HMR&C that swiftly screws ordinary citizens like me, the second we step out of line?

    Good riddance Mr Darling; nice try, but you've been found out. Next please.

  • Comment number 70.

    I would have felt a certain sympathy for anyone who took over Number 11 after Brown. You don't need an IQ in three figures to realise that Brown would keep calling the financial shots. There was no way Brown would allow his Chancellor the freedom Blair had permitted. The result is the Brown continued to screw up No 11 whilst doing a similar job in No 10. Brown is the problem not the solution at any level.

  • Comment number 71.

    The expenses fiasco is only a symptom. We leave the selection of MPs to too few special interest groups. We allow the party machines to tell MPs what to do , how to vote and our select committtes have no teeth eg if a member asks the wrong question then he/she will not be promoted ie more power to the party machines
    Why can't we have primaries to select MPs like America so we the public have our say?????
    Why are select committess not put together by the MPs not the party whips?? If MPs selected teh select committees they would give MPs some power and responsibility at tthe expense of the party ( or the very fewin the party who decide everything)

    and then they may well be worth a larger salary

    You can be sure that left to themselves the big parties will get through this in such a way that they have all the control and, once elected, have a free hand as they have now
    This might be our only chance to get some democracy in this country

  • Comment number 72.

    rifle @ 48

    or, expanding to 3 words if that's okay ...

    - mortgage of convenience

    - centre left coalition

  • Comment number 73.

    Dear Mr Darling

    You firstly tell us that you have done NOTHING wrong (according to the Rules), then tonight on BBC News I hear you have 'apologised' - oh........and that's on top of 'offering' to pay back the money. If I had committed such a heinous crime as fraud (as you have!), I would not only have to pay the money back but I would be arrested and probably jailed........on top of a criminal record. You are something else!

  • Comment number 74.

    #38 sagamix, not really too hard to understand. It's buying into their lies and then finding out the truth. Bit like adultery really, shock, betrayal and shame. You're always going to be more hurt by the ones you feel are on your side than the ones you actually expect to behave like that anyway

  • Comment number 75.

    Oh for Christ's sakes!...somebody invite the bloody Queen to the D-Day remembrance service!

  • Comment number 76.

    Does anyone know what the procedure is for removing (any) Prime Minister from office if it is thought that he (or she) is suffering from something akin to the "Madness of King George". Surely there must be provision for handling PM insanity in the House of Commons?

  • Comment number 77.

    52. At 9:25pm on 01 Jun 2009, RogerACA wrote:
    We all know that Darling is history, because he showed up his boss during the bank rescuing. He is to be replaced by someone who will not - Ed Balls, Brown's annointed successor.

    Balls became an MP in 2005. Two years later (two years!) he entered the Cabinet and now a mere two years (two years!) after that he's to have one of the 3 top jobs in Govt, after the PM.

    Totally a case of Who You Know.

    It is total insanity to promote such an inexperienced Parliamenarian to such a top job. But we all expect nothing less from Brown

    ===

    This is no time for a novice!

  • Comment number 78.

    #62 and finally

    There is, it's called co-operativism. Business owned by those that work in it. Everything else will follow. Trust me.

  • Comment number 79.

    #56 Ca55

    How do you know?

  • Comment number 80.

    plainly another of this governments sorry men well the only reason he is sorry is the minor fact he has been outed and hung out like a jolly roger.
    if this mp and those others think that a smarmy sorry will resolve the problem then they are more out of touch than the public feared.
    may be this mp should be removed before whats left of the labour parties reputation desolves into history.

  • Comment number 81.

    Not only should Alistair Darling go, but so should all connected with the appallingly poor regulation and policy decisions that created the credit crunch.

    These are: Mervyn King, the entire MPC, Hector Sants (of the FSA), Sir Gus O'Donnell and Sir Nicholas Mcpherson - (Permanent Secretaries at the Treasury) that created the boom. They all should have seen the problem coming - that is what we pay them very highly for! As they did not see the problem coming they are entirely the wrong people to be in post to fix the errors that they created.

    However it is entirely wrong to get rid of Alistair Darling for very minor expenses errors - for to do so would let off the real 'nightmare team' (see above)!

  • Comment number 82.

    Lots of MPs deserve what they get over the expenses scandal but it is also looking more and more like a hysterical witchhunt. Looks to me like Alastair Darling made a small mistake, we all do it and we have nothing like the responsibilities he has. Over the last 2 years he has helped stave off financial disaster for millions of people by avoiding a bank collapse and dealt calmly with the most horrendous pressures. Not one of the correspondents here could have coped with the pressure he has coped with. In calling for his resignation the Lib Dems have shown what appalling opportunists they are. And for Cameron to say Darling is in serious difficulties is extraordinary given his own mortgage swapping activities, which was worth rather a lot more.
    Lets clean up Parliament but we must avoid getting rid of good decent people like Alastair Darling.

  • Comment number 83.

    It is cruel but it is so apt as to be frighteningly prescient:

    From BBC TV series - - Black Adder Goes Forth

    Captain Black Adder: "Hello Darling."

    A startled Darling: "Oh Black Adder, it's you. Well, what do you want?"

    Capt Black Adder: "Yes Darling, it's me and I've come to ask if you're joining us in the great push tomorrow?"

    A very nervy Darling: "Much as I would like to be there with you, I'm afraid duty calls and I shall be stuck here at HQ, whilst you have the honour to go over the top."

    Capt Black Adder: "In that case Darling may I just say it is a pity."

    A stymied Darling: "A pity, how so?"

    Capt Black Adder: "Well, you will not have the honour of assisting in our glorious charge to move Field Marshal Haig's drinks cabinet 6 inches closer to Berlin."

    A non-plussed Darling: "Such are the cards dealt us Black Adder. Each of us must play our part and to some are given the heavy burden, the responsibility of leadership"

    Capt Black Adder: "Indeed so."

  • Comment number 84.

    The future is Balls.

  • Comment number 85.

    this whole expenses saga is flushing out who's who, isn't it? - amongst us I mean

    seems to be 4 blogger types:

    cock eyed lefties
    ... angry about clown claims, not fussed about the others

    rabid clowns
    ... livid about lab claims, not bovvered about the rest

    angry andys
    ... just totally furious about everything (on the pills now)

    clear thinking progressives
    ... reasonably sanguine about all but the worst excesses on either side (such as Cameron's mortgage of convenience)

  • Comment number 86.

    79. At 10:29pm on 01 Jun 2009, wasowenright wrote:
    #56 Ca55

    How do you know?

    ===

    Do keep up!

    "Earlier this week the Guardian reported how a plan by the Commons to release a censored version of MPs' expenses could be illegal. Hugh Tomlinson, the QC who successfully led the legal campaign to force the Commons to publish the claims albeit long after it should have, and several weeks after the Telegraph began divulging the information appears to think so. He says the plan to publish a heavily redacted version of the claims, which goes much further than the original ruling by the information tribunal, would breach a court order."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2009/may/29/concern-over-commons-expenses-plan

  • Comment number 87.

    "There was a wee Cooper who lived in Fife..."

    Did she know Gordon at the time?

  • Comment number 88.

    81. At 10:31pm on 01 Jun 2009, John_from_Hendon

    Do you think they should be sacked for incompetance/negligence OR willful destruction?

  • Comment number 89.

    78. At 10:27pm on 01 Jun 2009, wasowenright wrote:
    #62 and finally

    There is, it's called co-operativism. Business owned by those that work in it. Everything else will follow. Trust me.

    ===

    So successful it's been emulated by...who exactly?

  • Comment number 90.

    Ed and the missus... TWO set of Cabinet-level expenses and STILL hushed up because of "legal" constraints.

    Yvette might be his Darling in more ways than one.

  • Comment number 91.

    I would like to personally thank Alastair Darling for his contribution to this blog at comment #82.
    It is so refreshing to see that politicians take such an interest in the views of the common man.
    I am sure that Alastair's comments were both fair and true and were in no way intended to mislead anyone into taking pity on him for his series of unfortunate events.

    I personally will be adding him back on my Christmas card list and encourage everyone else to do the same.


  • Comment number 92.

    Some very unkind people might be wondering which bank's boardroom he'll "appear" in after he becomes an ex-Chancellor and perhaps (on the basis of the trouncing the Labour party are seemingly getting in the opinion polls alone) an ex-MP.

    I couldn't possibly comment, as I'm sure you couldn't either, Nick.

    Any bets, anyone?

  • Comment number 93.

    Poor Alistair Darling, he didn't have the authority to be Chancellor on day one let alone now; he was always seen as GB's puppet.

    Now that we know no MP has very much in the way of integrity, it is time to do away with the practice of MPs lining their family pockets by employing their spouses. Very few, possibly none, would get short-listed, let alone the job if it was openly advertised and an independent body reviewed the CVs and carried out the interviews.

    I believe there are cases where MPs have not only employed their spouse, but have claimed money for maintaining an office in their first home in their constituency for their spouse, in addition to claiming a second home allowance on their London property. This has to stop, it really must.

    We cannot trust MPs not to exploit any loophole that might be left, because if any are left they will exploit them. Most MPs are more accurately compared with social workers than doctors, so are vastly overpaid already.

  • Comment number 94.

    GORDY??

    HOW much longer do we HAVE to TOLERATE YOU and YOUR NUMPTY GANG??

  • Comment number 95.

    Like some others here I feel sorry for Darling, simply for the awful job of being Chancellor when Gordon's chickens started coming home to roost and no doubt writing his budget and forecasts under considerable duress from above/beside. He seems a more decent man than most of them and it's a shame he's the one in the financial firing line.
    Obviously this doesn't abrogate the ridiculous and increasingly ludicrous charade of expenses and expenses to avoid expenses and utter refusal to abide by the clearly-stated regulations in the Green Book, instead pretending that it's the Fees Office's fault for allowing their immoral claims! And to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer messing up his expenses claims brings to mind the old adage, "Look after the pennies, and the pounds look after themselves".
    We need a General Election for one clear reason - the current govt has got itself into a situation where it cannot govern. Regardless of your thoughts on its quality, the govt cannot create and enforce law right now, and therefore whatever its current merits it needs reforming by popular mandate. The matter is now above crowing party politics, it's national politics, and needs to be decided upon by the national electorate.

  • Comment number 96.

    Paxo was value for money tonight!!!

    Harperson squirming...priceless!

    He may as well have told her she was a two faced harpy...and she still wouldn't have bitten.

    How much credibility do this shower have to loose to become totally irrelevant...oh!...I just remembered...anihilation at the polls.

  • Comment number 97.

    The moderators are frustratingly quick tonight. And I had this "Robinson's Jam" pun ready to fire in, should there be a backlog.

  • Comment number 98.

    94 Curzon

    I'd say 12 months. Glad to help.

    1992 to 1997

    2005 to 2010

    Simples

  • Comment number 99.

    FSA bonuses up 40% to a staggering GBP120 million!

    This is a bigger scandal than Darling's expenses!

  • Comment number 100.

    #85:

    Here we go go again trying to paint David Cameron as among the worst offenders. For me the phantom mortgage claimers border on the criminal and are the actual worst offenders! This thread is about Alistair Darling not David Cameron. Stay on topic!

 

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