8.15pm WATCH: Gordon Brown announces an increase in troops being deployed in Afghanistan

Picture 76pm Parliament: Chloe Smith MP delivers her maiden speech in the Commons

3.45pm Dominic Llewellyn on CentreRight posts some reflections on the Northern Ireland peace process 25 years after the IRA murdered his great-great-uncle

3.30pm WATCH Two clips from today's PMQs:

1.45pm Seats and Candidates: Two senior Macclesfield Tories quit over candidate selection process

12.30pm ToryDiary: A sombre and subdued first PMQs of the new term

11.30am ToryDiary updateBaroness Warsi reportedly due to appear on next week's Question Time

11.30am LISTEN: Harriet Harman warns opposition parties against trying to exploit the MPs' expenses row

SaveElectionNight graphic9.30am Parliament: The campaign to Save General Election Night reaches the Commons

ToryDiary: Who should take on Nick Griffin for the Conservatives on next week's Question Time?

Lucy Parsons on Platform: Freeing up Britain's infrastructure markets in areas such as road, rail and renewable energy will make them more successful

Local Government: The latest on the row over Boris Johnson's appointment of former Evening Standard editor to a top London arts post

Melanchthon on CentreRight imagines how the press would react to the sight of bankers and MPs being burnt on a huge pyre in Parliament Square

WATCH: Daniel Hannan MEP blames the global financial crisis on excessive state intervention

David Cameron takes toughest line on MPs' expenses as backbench dissent across the Commons grows

David Cameron waist up "Ten members of David Cameron's shadow Cabinet agreed last night to repay a total of £17,430 in expenses after being accused of over-claiming by an independent audit. The Tory leader acted swiftly after MPs received letters from Sir Thomas Legg setting out his initial findings on their claims over the past five years. Although three shadow ministers are challenging his verdict, most fell into line to help Mr Cameron's attempts to display strong leadership on the issue. Last night's repayments are on top of more than £18,000 returned to the Commons by eight shadow Cabinet members after details of the claims by all MPs from 2004-08 were leaked in May." – The Independent

"Mr Cameron said that any MP who did not pay money back would not be allowed to stand for the Conservatives at the election. He said that was “the minimum” defiant MPs should expect. Mr Brown’s stance appeared less hard-line, referring instead merely to “action” against MPs who did not pay back money." – Daily Telegraph

"Gordon Brown and David Cameron were fighting to contain a rebellion against rules for parliamentary expenses as growing numbers of Conservative and Labour MPs found common cause to fight the changes." – The Guardian

Ann Widdecombe serious "Ann Widdecombe, a former Conservative minister, said there was “a big question of the legality” over the decision, which is expected to result in five or even six-figure repayment demands for some MPs. Her complaint was followed by Labour MP Martin Salter, who said the process was “monstrously unfair”, and Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat MP, who said he was concerned by fundamental errors which may have been made in haste by Sir Thomas. Labour's Bill Etherington, the Sunderland North MP, became the first refusnik of the affair when he warned he would not pay back any money claimed under the rules as they stood at the time." – The Times

Nick Clegg wants expenses audit widened – BBC

10 Northern Ireland MPs asked to repay expenses cash – Belfast Telegraph

What the columnists are saying about the latest chapter in Expenses-gate

"He [Sir Thomas Legg] has been quite mild and, in the eyes of most taxpayers in these hard times, quite generous. A sterner moralist would have told some MPs that some of their claims, while legal, were immoral, and represented an immoral use of public money." – Simon Heffer writing in the Daily Telegraph

OBORNE "Parliament’s reputation, already at rock bottom, can hardly fall lower, meaning that sinister parties of the far Right and Left may benefit from the collapse of our greatest national institution. That is why it is essential that Gordon Brown and David Cameron intervene now to end the attacks on Sir Thomas Legg. In addition, they must tell their MPs to pay up uncomplainingly — or face making the ultimate sacrifice of losing the party whip, and being booted out of Parliament. Otherwise the coming general election could see the collapse of faith in British democracy and the start of a menacing new order for our bankrupt politics." – Peter Oborne writing in the Daily Mail

"Cameron clearly thinks the issue is working for him: the warm-up video before his conference speech included a clip of him sternly ordering parliamentary colleagues caught with their hands in the public till to pay the money back. But if all that helps the Tories win the election, it will do nothing to improve their chances of governing after it. One former Conservative strategist wonders if we are entering a 21st-century counterpart to the "age of ungovernability" of the 70s. Then it was trade union power that seemed to make politics impossible. Now it might be a breakdown in the underlying democratic contract, in the public's belief that they can look to the political leadership of Britain to change things." – Jonathan Freedland writing in The Guardian

"For the first time in the expenses crisis I have sympathy for MPs – backdating reduced limits on cleaning and gardening is unfair. They've been Sir Thomas Legg-overed while the biggest spongers, those rich enough like Cameron to jack up the mortgage and pay other bills themselves, laugh all the way to the bank. Yes it's rough justice but Labour MPs have a duty to stump up and shut up. Brown was right to warn his party it won't earn a hearing on anything else while the expenses row rumbles on… the PM will never convince voters the Government isn't condemned to defeat if Labour MPs shout about their own finances instead of those of electors."- Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror

Iain Dale on why the 2010 Commons intake – of which he hopes to be a part – must be beyond reproach


Iain Dale "It would never occur to me to claim £400 a month for food I would have consumed anyway, let alone to charge the taxpayer for a television or garden furniture. My mother said to me recently: "Thank God you lost at the last election. You might have got caught up in all of this." I'd like to think I wouldn't have, but when the party whips tell you to make sure you claim for this, that or the other and that you should view it as a salary increase, you can see why some members did what they did. For the new intake of MPs who will be elected in 2010, things must be different. Their levels of personal morality and probity will have to be beyond reproach. It is down to them to make the change, ensure things are done differently and to rebuild trust with the electorate." – Iain Dale writing in the Daily Telegraph

> Round-up of yesterday's ConHome coverage of the issue of MPs' expenses:

Douglas Carswell seeks to introduce recall ballots

"Conservative MP Douglas Carswell is bringing in a bill which would allow voters to recall their MPs between general elections. He believes it would have a dramatic effect on what he calls a "moribund" Parliament, and make MPs more accountable. Mr Carswell said: "I think a lot of politicians would grow up pretty quickly. Rather than being interested in making tribal noises which go down well with the whips' office, they would take seriously the job of representing all different shades of opinion in their constituency." – BBC

> Yesterday in Parliament: Douglas Carswell MP proposes the end of 'the safe seat'

David Willetts challenges the Government over shortage of university places

WILLETTS DAVID NW "The Conservatives are set to attack the government over the shortage of university places this summer, claiming 141,000 applicants missed out. Universities spokesman David Willetts will challenge ministers over figures showing a 30% increase in applicants without a place. The Tories, once opposed to increased student numbers, now say more graduates are needed in a globalised economy." – BBC

Trafigura drops bid to gag Guardian over MP's question

"An unprecedented attempt by a British oil trading firm to prevent the Guardian reporting parliamentary proceedings collapsedtoday following a spontaneous online campaign to spread the information the paper had been barred from publishing. Carter-Ruck, the law firm representing Trafigura, was accused of infringing the supremacy of parliament after it insisted that an injunction obtained against the Guardian prevented the paper from reporting a question tabled on Monday by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly." – The Guardian

> Yesterday on CentreRight: Alex Deane is outraged that The Guardian has been gagged from reporting parliamentary proceedings

Quentin Letts is less than delighted to see Michael Martin take his seat in the Lords

Lord Martin "Another great day for Westminster: Gorbals Mickwas sworn in to the House of Lords yesterday. And to think that I went to bed on Monday night thinking, ‘Oh well, at least things can’t get any worse’! The former Commons Speaker – that Robin Reliant of parliamentarians, that golfer’s air-shot of a statesman – became Lord Martin of Springburn of Port Dundas in the City of Glasgow… It was a big do for Clan Gorbals and there were several family members, including the new Lady Martin, looking down proudly from the visitors’ gallery.  Airmiles may have had a busy day." – Quentin Letts' sketch in the Daily Mail

Campaign launched to deny Jacqui Smith a peerage – Daily Telegraph

Irwin Stelzer: A Prime Minister's character is worth more than his policies

"A few overlooked sentences in David Cameron's speech are probably more important than all the stuff that filled the papers during and after the Tory conference. "I know that whatever plans you make in opposition, it's the unpredictable events that come to dominate a government. And it's your character, your temperament and your judgment, not your policies and your manifesto, that really make the difference." Which is why it is so important to consider the character of any national leader." – Irwin Stelzer writing in the Daily Telegraph

Douglas McNeill: Tories must focus cuts on public sector pay

"Much attention has been lavished on Mr Osborne’s proposal to freeze public sector pay. But of equal significance was what he did not say about public sector pensions. True, there was a crowd-pleasing promise to cap payouts at the very top end of the scale. But that was all. Persuading one voter in seven to accept a pay freeze is a big enough challenge to be going on with. Full-blown public sector pension reform is a job for another time." – Douglas McNeill writing in the Financial Times

Daniel Finkelstein explains how David Cameron's "poverty moment" in Manchester came about

"Tim Montgomerie — one of the most important Conservative activists of the past 20 years — is best known in Tory circles for setting up the ConservativeHome website. But however well that site does, his work there may, in the end, take second place to the impact he made as founder of the Conservative Christian Fellowship… A social action project — Renewing One Nation — was established that brought Iain Duncan Smith face to face with the plight of the vulnerable, with drug addiction and with failing estates. Montgomerie briefly served as IDS’s political secretary and then, broadening from the evangelical base, helped to found the Centre for Social Justice. Compassion for the poor and anger at poverty landed in the mainstream of Tory politics. It was a brilliant organisational coup. And it helps to explain Mr Cameron’s statement and the audience reaction to it." – Daniel Finkelstein writing in The Times

Nils Pratley: Cameron may be too dogmatic on quantitative easingThe Guardian

Peter Hetherington: How can Cameron square his plans for localism with the need for massive budget cuts, without raising council tax?The Guardian

Gordon Brown expected to announce that
500 more troops will be sent to Afghanistan


Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary and visit for breaking political news and views throughout the day.

10 comments for: Wednesday 14th October 2009

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.