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Jerry Hayes

Is it time for the Telegraph to call a moratorium on all old expenses stories?

May 31st, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

I know that this will probably make me about as popular as a ham sandwich in Tehran, but I’m just beginning to wonder whether the Telegraph group should call a moratorium on all expenses stories that took place in the the last Parliament. Yes,yes there should be transparency. Yes, yes the wickedness of our legislators should be exposed. Yes, yes, they should be punished. But now, as we spiral down the plug hole of our financial profligacy and the Euro is on the verge of total melt down, the Barclay brothers should perhaps say enough is enough.

What this country needs is stable government and clarity of commitment to restore the public finances. The Robespierian glee that has greeted MP’s  being bundled to the guillotine and the enthusiastic knitting by the Oompa Loompas who seek to lead the Labour Party, does for public confidence what King Herod did for babysitting. The coalition still has the goodwill of the nation and it is vital that that continues. Squander it and it will be Retsinas all round. And anyway, there are going to be a few show trial to sate the appetite of the mob.

I suppose, there is a vague upside in showing that the LibDems have as many feet of clay as the rest of us, but that’s about as far as it goes. Poor Danny Alexander had better prepare himself for an onslaught on his integrity, his competence and more seriously, the fact that he is a ginger. To lose one Chief Secretary is an accident, another would be a catastrophe.

What has really surprised me has been the luke warm response to the Laws tragedy from unexpected sources. My old chum Ben Summerskill, of Stonewall, has made it known that this an expenses scandal rather than a gay one. Well, up to a point. Laws wouldn’t have got into this mess if he didn’t have to deal with the aversion of coming out. Peter Tatchell’s similar views are more understandable. Peter is as tireless as he is courageous in his campaigning for justice. But he was horribly scarred by the Southwark by election when the Liberal candidate conducted a homophobic campaign against him, urging the electorate to vote for their, “straight candidate”. Ironically it was Simon Hughes. And as for progressive, Labour supporting, Duncan Ballantyne’s tweet yesterday that, ” how could anyone be called honourable if they hide their sexuality?” Nothing more can be said, save that I hope a lot of pink towels will find themselves in other health clubs.

But on an optimistic note, watch out for the rise and rise of Lord Carlisle QC. Now, don’t get him muddled with Tory rightwinger John Carlisle of whom it used to be joked that he used to watch Roots backwards so that there was a happy ending. Alex is a Lib Dem peer whom I happily served three parliaments with in the Commons. He is a wise head and a safe pair of hands. He is the government’s independent advisor on security and has come up with an ingenious plan to deal with the deportation of terrorists without having to abolish the Human Rights Act.  More of that at a later date.

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