How Conservative MPs sunk expenses reform

Alex has beaten me to writing up the result of yesterday’s vote on MP’s expenses. So here are his words, better than mine would have been anyway:

News reports of last night’s self-pampering vote by greedy MPs offer a choice of two messages: either ‘they’re all at it’ or ‘the Tories and Liberal Democrats condemned Labour’. But the truth is that not all MPs – and not all parties – have their snouts in the trough. The truth is that of 176 MPs so out of touch with the economic woes of the real world that they voted themselves £23,000 a year for home furnishings, 146 were Labour. But none were Lib Dems. Zero. Despite desperate Tory spin, it was Conservative MPs who tipped the ‘trough’ vote. If the couple of dozen Tories who voted for luxury goods to prop their households up against a recession had voted the other way, MPs’ expenses would now be less shaming to Parliament’s all-time-low reputation …

And what of the Tories? To his credit, this is one of those rare occasions when Mr Cameron’s progressive rhetoric was matched by his voting record: he voted the right way, and told his Shadow Cabinet to follow him. Also to his credit, this time they did – most Tories actually voted the same way as Mr Cameron on a divisive issue, which is very rare indeed. But, though the Tories’ spin doctors are very effective and have managed to get an anti-Labour message into several papers on the back of this vote, the fact remains that glancing at the list of who voted which way finds yet another Tory split as a couple of dozen Tory MPs followed their greedy Tory instincts and pocketed as much cash as they could lay their hands on.

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