There was a time, not so long ago, when the merest hint of wrongdoing by a Cabinet Minister would be a matter for resignation, if only to avoid undermining the government as the MP fought to clear their name.
These days, it seems, politicians can be caught with their hands in the till, and not only will they carry on as normal and refuse to resign but, as in the case of Maria Miller, make things worse by trying to intimidate the very people investigating her.
Not only did she have her special advisor threaten the Telegraph, for whom MP’s expenses is something of a crusade, she managed to bully the Commons Standards Committee into reducing the amount of ill-gotten gains that she had to repay from £45,000 to a mere £5,800. And even that wasn’t enough – she tried to get it reduced further, to £4,000!
The Prime Minister has given her his full backing, a phrase which used to be a prelude to a sacking. That appears to be another thing that’s changed, though. David Cameron has cited the independent, non-MP, members of the Standards Committee, and their casting vote, as evidence that Miller’s wrongdoing was a trivial mistake on her part.
In fact, the lay members of the Standards Committee don’t have a casting vote. They don’t have a vote at all! It was Miller’s fellow MPs who sought to minimise the damage to her bank account. Cameron either lied (par for the course for this government), or he showed a serious lack of judgement. Either way, he’s done his own career some damage.
Now all that’s needed is for someone to notice.
More on this story from around the web:
- Rogues turn government Twitter feed against Miller
- Maria Miller’s expenses threats ‘pretty shocking’, says ex-head of watchdog
- Maria Miller expenses report: MPs conspired to save Culture Secretary
- Tories announce tough new regime of 30-second half-hearted apologies for serious crimes