Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Culture Sec Maria Millar is forced to resign as a Government Minister over expenses scandal, as well as that the entire Commons Standards Committee should go, ‘unfit for purpose’; party leaders have to act because there must be a zero tolerance policy, not a ‘you cover my back’ Committee

Dear All

I recently wrote this blog post on Tory Mp Maria Millar.

Having read the evidence, such as it was laid out, it was immediately clear that her position as Culture Sec in the coalition government was untenable.

Maria Millar had to go for the greater good.

When I wrote, my post I said:

“Maria Millar has no business being a Minister of the Crown; David Cameron should recognise that her position is untenable and he should publicly sack her”.

With support ebbing away and not being able to ride out the storm, Maria Millar has decided to jump; her presence in government would be a running sore.

Maria Miller has insisted it was her decision to resign as culture secretary, however there are claims she was forced out by Number 10.

Presumably Number 10 must be pleased; a damaging episode has been nipped in the bud.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has since gone on to accused PM David Cameron of having "undermined trust in politics" with his handling of the row.

Cameron stood by Millar, which begs the question why?

Yes, why, not only does she have to pay money back which is bad enough but she doesn’t have to pay the full amount which was touted about at about £45k.

She is paying about £6k back and we were treated to a 32 second apology.

32 second apology!

Conservative MP Sajid Javid has been named as the new culture secretary; he is the MP for Bromsgrove.

Bromsgrove, former seat of Julie Kirkbride, she left after an expense scandal broke over her expenses claims.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he hoped Mrs Miller would return to the cabinet "in due course".

Presumably he is talking if the Conservatives win the 2015 election, it appears to be a hallmark of this government that Ministers are caught over expenses and then simply return at a future date.

As Labour MP John Mann said:

"The question I'm getting all the time is 'what has happened to honour in British politics?'"

Miller was told to repay £5,800 of the expenses she claimed, the independent parliamentary commissioner for standards had previously recommended she repay £45,000.

But the lower sum was approved by the Commons Standards Committee who in my opinion should all be removed.

That lot has no business judging anyone, they by being weak just green lighted more abuse because if caught you only have to pay a little back!

David Cameron's official spokesman said the PM and Mrs Miller discussed her future on Tuesday night and her resignation was confirmed on Wednesday morning.

Did ‘call me Dave’ ask her to jump?

In a TV interview, she said:

"I take full responsibility for my decision to resign. I think it's the right thing to do."

She dodged the direct question of whether she was pressured.

Millar continued:

"I was cleared of the central allegation made about me by a Labour MP. I hoped that I could stay, but it has become clear to me over the last few days that this has become an enormous distraction, and it's not right that I'm detracting from the incredible achievements of this government. I continue to support, obviously, my colleagues here in Parliament, the government, and above all the prime minister."

It is unthinkable to have her back as a Minister of the Crown; that said, if any further sanction is to be placed on her three years seems about what Cameron should consider.

Ed Miliband said:

"The reason the public was so appalled was that if it had happened in any other business, there would have been no question of them staying in their job."

He asked of the PM:

"Why was he the last person in the country to realise her position was untenable?"

Good question, nothing wrong in standing by people if they are in the right, she wasn’t, she isn’t paying back money because she is innocent, she is paying it back because she should never should have had it in the first place.

The Labour leader concluded:

"His failure, even now, to recognise what went wrong has undermined trust not only in his government but in politics."

Cameron immediately accused him of "playing politics" and "jumping on a bandwagon".

If, this is a bandwagon, then the whole country must be on it, and I suspect several Tories who see their good work being squandered by the actions of others.

In another round of let’s get together, the prime minister invited the opposition leader to join him and other party leaders and work out "what can we do to put beyond doubt that this is a good and honest Parliament, with hardworking people."

Sacking the Commons Standards Committee for a starter for ten?

Education Sec Michael Gove said politicians still needed to reflect on the level of public anger about expenses, although, saddened" by Mrs Miller's resignation.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"She has done some brave and right things; not least that equal marriage is now on the statute book."

Well, I hope, he realises that although, we expect “brave and right things”, it doesn’t act as a licence for ‘bad’ things, like credit in an bank account.

Gove also commended Mr Cameron's defence of Mrs Miller, arguing that his "loyalty, that desire to think the best of those who work with him, is a virtue".

We have seen over the last few weeks that several high profile Conservatives have messed up, seemly close to Cameron, perhaps, he should pick his ‘friends’ better, nothing wrong with loyalty but loyal people don’t act this way, they play it straight down the line.

Gove added:

"The prime minister's attitude throughout has been governed by the basic human decency that is his hallmark."

You could argue what passes for decency as a debate in itself. 

Labour MP John Mann, whose complaint sparked the investigation into Mrs Miller's expenses, welcomed her resignation.

He said:

"My reaction is it's about time too... Maria Miller should have resigned immediately and when she didn't resign, David Cameron should have shown a bit of leadership and he should have sacked her," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. There is a difference between loyalty and blind loyalty."

Spot on!

Perhaps David Cameron should get everyone together and ask the question, ‘are any of you lot pissing on this party’, if so, you have no future in it'!

And the sooner he spells out what loyalty is; the better for all.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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