Anyone else think it’s kind of wierd for politicians to go straight from “I’ve done nothing wrong” to “I’ll pay the money back”. If you did nothing wrong at all, why pay the money back?
Still, probably the right thing to do, at least in media terms, on both front benches. However it does seem a bit more like media management than real commitments are the issues of the day.
For example George Osborne pays back his chauffeur bill, Hazel Blears pays her capital gains tax, Gove pays back his furniture costs, but Francis Maude, whose claim struck me as equally egregious or worse than all of those, just promises not to claim any more?
Eh? Other than media management, what’s the principle in play there?
Still, strikes me that, like last weeks Commons votes, these are steps in the right direction, no matter the reason they’ve been taken.
So now I put on my cynical political prognostication hat.
<Machiavelli> I do wonder how much trouble this stores up for leaders and whips in future. It’s all very well applying the lash to your troops, indeed in this case it’s justified.But what happens next?
Imagine Fred Curmudgeon MP. He suddenly sees his income drop by ten grand a year or so, while being told he must pay back twenty grand he’d been planning on helping one of the little curmudgeons through uni, and is told of the vital importance of this sacrifice by people who will be able to rely on inheritences, ministerial salaries, newspaper columns, memoirs, and seats on a few boards to tide them over.
Effectively, FC MP is now (from his point of view) being ordered to financially subsidise the political image of his leaders. He faces overwhelming pressure to shore up his seniors career prospects with his ill gotten gains. So might he be just a little less inclined to do the bidding of the leadership when they next needed him to do them a favour? When it’s his turn to provide political cover for an unpopular decision?
I doubt this sort of payback would happen immediately, as nobody messes with the powerful when they’re strong. So you’ll need to wait and see for years to find out if I’m right. At the same time never underestimate the capacity for the fiscally embarrassed to find a way to get their own back. </machiavelli>
See - I don’t always see the best in politicians….