23 Feb 2015 at 12:58
Just as I thought that the Daily Telegraph could sink no lower they splash a dodgy sting about cash for access. Now put out of your minds whether you think that MPs should have no outside interests and ignore what you might think of the policies of Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind when they were Foreign Secretary. There is only one simple question. ‘What have they done which is in breach of the Parliamentary rules’. The simple answer is nothing. If the allegation was that for a few bob a cup of camomile with Miliband could be provided, an Aga supper with the Camerons or a raucous night of lager and lighting farts with Philip Hammond, then they could clearly in breach of the rules. And the purple prose of former standards watchdog, Sir Alastair Graham, are bordering on the the comical. ‘Shocking’ and that it was against the rules to negotiate a business deal in a Commons office. Would the Strangers bar or the Pugin room be all right then? Or what about a slap up lunch at the Savoy. Completely daft.
And how are former cabinet ministers meant to earn a crust? Again, provided they are not offering access to Ministers for cash, there is absolutely nothing wrong with advising businesses with their areas of expertise. Some may say that an MP should have no outside interests at all. But that is a separate argument.
So now there will be a spring in the steps of the KIPPERS. MPs are out of touch, the Westminster elite and part of the bubble. Wrong and quite an appalling accusation.
If there was a Tea Room discussion about which MPs were greedy and dodgy, Straw and Rifkind would not have even been contemplated lest of all mentioned. They are both conscientious representatives and thoroughly decent public servants. To be pilloried as they have been to sell a few papers and boost some television ratings is beneath contempt. I don’t think Jack should have voluntarily resigned from the Parliamentary Labour Party and I hope that the Intelligence Committee will give Malcolm a resounding vote of confidence. One wonders after the events of the last few days whether Boris should consider taking his excellent column elsewhere. The Mail would snap him up. And the money……….