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Picture 4 8pm WATCH: Sky News's round-up of today's expenses allegations includes Tory MP Anthony Steen's defence that "the system is wrong and for the public it's totally confusing"

7.30pm ToryDiary: ComRes poll has Tory lead constant at 19% but both main parties take a hit

LabourDownTo20% 7pm ToryDiary: Tory lead at 22% in new BPIX poll as Labour support slumps to 20%

3.45pm Daniel Kawczynski MP on CentreRight: Justice for Equitable Life policy-holders must be delayed no longer

2.15pm WATCH: Sky News has a video summarising the week's expenses allegations, followed by discussion with Martin Bell and Michael White

1.45pm ToryDiary: David Cameron must not cede any moral authority to Gordon Brown over the expenses issue

10.45pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: It has taken twelve years for David Chaytor to hit the radar of his Bury North constituents

TEBBIT-FROM-INDEPENDENTToryDiary: Lord Tebbit compares MPs milking the system to "welfare junkies"

Mike Dolley in Seats and Candidates: William Hague gets a golden response from the voters of Gibraltar

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP on Platform: Which electoral system should we use in Britain to elect MEPs?

Local Government: Lincolnshire achieves record recycling rate and pledges to keep grammar schools

AmericaInTheWorld: Obama U-turns on prisoner abuse photographs and military trials

WATCH:

DORRIES-Nadine Nadine Dorries heads the latest list of Tory MPs to be targeted by the Daily Telegraph…

"A high-profile female Conservative MP is facing questions over her parliamentary expenses after admitting she only spends free weekends and holidays in the property she designates as her main home. Nadine Dorries tells the Commons authorities that her second home is a rented house in her constituency where she has claimed more than £18,000 in rent. But when questioned by The Daily Telegraph about her living arrangements, she posted a message on the internet in which she admits her daughter goes to school in the area, she keeps her pet dogs there and she spends many of her weekends working there." – Daily Telegraph | Video

Nadine Dorries posted this prebuttal on her blog yesterday

…but she's not the only one

  • Anthony Steen: "Racked up a bill of £87,700 over four years on maintenance work at his vast Devon property, which he bought for £1million in 2000… The remarkable figure included payments for tree surgery and protecting his shrubs against rabbits, as well as maintaining a separate cottage."
  • Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: "'Flipped' his second home designation from London to his new Gloucestershire home and claimed £66,800 over three years from 2005 to 2008 – the maximum amount allowed for a second home. Two years after buying the Gloucestershire house, Mr Clifton-Brown sold it and raked in a profit of £208,000."
  • Crispin Blunt: "Was warned by Commons authorities to stop claiming thousands of pounds of second home allowances on his London home because he lived there with his family. Mr Blunt then sold the house and bought a larger property for double the price as his second home, and promptly billed the taxpayer for £16,000 in stamp duty and fees."

(as summarised by the Daily Mail)

Justice Minister Shahid Malik is the Telegraph's first ministerial scalp…

"Mr Malik was forced to step down after the Prime Minister ordered a Whitehall inquiry into his rental agreement on his home in Dewsbury, West Yorks, where his landlord has said he pays well below the market rate. The ministerial code of conduct states that members of the Government must not accept any “gift or hospitality” which risks putting them under an “obligation”. – Daily Telegraph

…as further Labour figures are targeted today by the paper

  • David Chaytor: "Has admitted that he had claimed almost £13,000 in interest payments for a mortgage that he had already repaid."
  • Sir Gerald Kaufman: "Charged the taxpayer £1,851 for a rug he imported from a New York antiques centre and tried to claim £8,865 for a television."
  • Tam Dalyell: "Attempted to claim £18,000 for bookcases two months before he retired as an MP."

Labour plans to force out MPs who cheat on expenses

"Any Labour MP found to have made improper expenses claims will be ­automatically deselected and barred from standing at the next general election as the party desperately tries to overcome the constitutional crisis facing parliament." – The Guardian

Picture 1 Shadow Cabinet expenses are published online three days after David Cameron promised to do so…

"David Cameron yesterday fulfilled his pledge to make his party’s expense claims more transparent by putting them online. He announced this week that all new claims by Shadow Cabinet members submitted from 3pm on Tuesday would go online, with his other MPs expected to follow suit. The first published yesterday showed that on Tuesday Mr Cameron had claimed for a range of bills." – Daily Express

View the Shadow Cabinet expense claims on conservatives.com

…as the Tory leader scraps election broadcast and instead speaks directly to the nation

"David Cameron vowed to clean up Tory MPs’ expenses last night in an unexpected address to the nation. He used his TV party political broadcast, due to cover May’s elections, to pledge an end to the sickening excess." – The Sun

> Watch it here

Thursday night's BBC Question Time on expenses got record viewing figures

"Disclosures about MPs' expenses, made by the Daily Telegraph, have led to the biggest ever viewing figures for Question Time, the BBC political debate programme… The programme peaked at 10.55pm with a sizeable 4 million viewers." – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday on CentreRight: Which MPs will now enter the lions' den that is the Question Time studio?

Martin-michael Support for an attempt to oust the Speaker is growing

"Speaker Michael Martin is facing an unprecedented cross-party bid to unseat him. Senior MPs are planning to send a 'men in grey suits' delegation to demand that he step down as early as next week over his handling of the expenses scandal… Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday became the most senior figure to express concern by acknowledging that there was a 'problem' for Mr Martin. He said: 'There certainly is a problem. Any MP has to acknowledge that'." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Big beast backbenchers likely to join Douglas Carswell's campaign against the Speaker

Time for a general election?

"Only a fresh general election, giving the public the opportunity to
expel those MPs who have abused the system, will restore confidence in
our Parliament. For the sake of our democracy, the sooner that purging
takes place, the better." – Independent editorial

Charles Moore: It's time to re-empower Parliament

"The way to get good MPs is to re-empower the institution, on our own behalf… To start making proper laws once more, MPs should have almost no
allowances, and modest wages. In return, they should be free to earn
money by other means, so long as we know what those means are. They
will learn much more about the rest of life than if they sit in
Westminster all day and all night. The privileges they should be
granted are of power, not money." – Charles Moore writing in the Daily Telegraph

CAMERON AT PARTY CONFERENCE Coverage of David Cameron's speech to the Scottish Conservative Conference

"British politics is living through a “dangerous moment” as a result of the expenses scandal and how politicians react to it will determine whether they can rebuild respect or go on attracting more ridicule and contempt, David Cameron has warned. In his speech to the Conservative party’s Scottish conference in Perth yesterday, Mr Cameron described Westminster politics as “reviled and held in scorn”. The people, he said, had had enough." – The Times

"With public anger growing over the misuse of taxpayers' money, Mr Cameron urged Scots not to be tempted to vote for the SNP out of anger at what was happening at Westminster. In an appeal to all voters, he told the party's Scottish conference in Perth: "I say this: I know you're angry with Westminster's politicians. But a vote for the SNP puts our Union at risk." – The Scotsman

"David Cameron showed every sign yesterday that he has a grasp of the Scotland issue, or at least a better grasp than Labour has shown to date. The Tory leader promised to avoid fights with the Holyrood Government and to engage with it from day one, with his new ministers travelling to Edinburgh to meet MSPs within weeks of taking office." – The Herald

The week David Cameron began to looked prime ministerial

"At a hastily called press conference, Mr Cameron looked the real prime ministerial deal. He reminded me of Tony Blair at his best, sniffing the public mood quickly and responding decisively. He also defined himself against his own party's old guard to show that its leadership had changed, as Mr Blair did repeatedly. Mr Cameron even penned a piece in The Sun, as Mr Blair did so often that it looked as if he was on the payroll." – Andrew Grice writing in The Independent

"This week Mr Cameron became, not just in the bookies' reckoning
but in the national imagination, the next Prime Minister. Until recently he
had seemed to project a flabbiness that unsettled voters. But on Wednesday
we saw the only big, clunking fist to be wielded at Westminster." – Matthew Parris writing in The Times

David Cameron is the subject of a lengthy profile by Ginny Dougary in The Times

DSC05313 William Hague to give up his outside earnings

"Shadow foreign secretary William Hague, who has not been accused of misusing his expenses, will confirm in a TV interview today that he will give up his outside interests, including lucrative after-dinner speaking, in the run-up to the general election." – The Scotsman

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Hague to end his outside interests

Boris: It's inconceivable that a Tory Government would tamper with Crossrail

"It is inconceivable that an incoming Conservative government would tamper with the London Crossrail project, Boris Johnson said on Friday as construction work began on the £16bn ($24bn) route. The London mayor was speaking after a ceremony in which Canary Wharf Group started pile-driving for the foundations of a £500m station in Canary Wharf’s north dock." – FT

> Related post on Star Chamber

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