Odds that Conway was the only one: close to zero

Here’s a quick one. Let’s have a sweepstake. In the next couple of weeks, as the tips and leaks start to flow in, how many MPs will be busted for paying their relatives to do nothing? Nearest to the actual number wins… er… a slightly cleaner legislature.

Seriously, Conway got the boot (a much tougher sanction than any of the various donation monkeys received, remember) so we have a precedent. If it turns out that there are ten or twenty (fifty?) MPs currently employing invisible researchers and secretaries that’s a potential legislative apocalypse: Westminster could be on the brink of losing five percent of it elected representatives.

I think I now understand why it took Cameron a day to think about it. Dave’s thought process: “everybody knows that lots of MPs do this. Over 70 Tory MPs employ relatives. We could be in for a flood of bent MPs. I could lose dozens of loyal troops. Oh. My. God”.


  1. I’ve actually interacted with one MP whose wife worked for him and was quite capable and professional. I wish PAs were as good as her. But you are right – there are probably lots of other bad apples out there.

    All this pales in comparison to the amount of money allocated to senior salaries at places like Ofcom. They do good work (sometimes), of course, but it comes at a very very steep price with very little accountability. (Of course Ofcom are doing the job that ministers SHOULD be doing in the first instance).

    Consider the overall situation: The big picture is being governed by Brussels; the details are being sorted by the regulators such as Ofcom.

    What does that leave MPs to do?

  2. I don’t buy your Brussels scenario. Where’s the evidence that Brussels is in charge? Where’s the evidence that it’s influence is even growing? I’ve been an adult in Britain for nearly thirty years now, all of them ‘under the heel of Brussels’. Britain now looks, in almost all respects, roughly like it did back then – only more prosperous. Nothing in the national character seems more ‘European’, the political and social to-and-for is no less ‘British’. What’s going on? If Brussels is in charge why can’t I see it?

  3. Hey Steve,

    Duh! Brussels is fluoridating the water supply. I drink only water bottled from a trusted source in Serbia.

    But seriously, I probably should have qualified my statement as limited to the media / telecoms sector with which I am familiar. I don’t know about other sectors as much.

    In the media / telecoms sector, Europe seems to call the big picture shots whether it relates to broadband (state aid, no regulatory holidays), telecoms (new Euro-regulator, new regulatory framework, roaming regulations), and new media (AVMS).

    Today, for example, Viviane Reding really set the tone on roaming prices throughout Europe. She is the one currently driving change. Ofcom are more reactive; DCMS and DBERR are much less influential. Parliament???

    I think people don’t see it much because much of the European law is transposed into national law, much like the EU’s new regulatory framework for telecoms was transposed into the Communications Act 2003. To most people, it probably looked like Parliament changing telecoms regulation in the UK. And, broadly speaking, the European approach is consistent with the UK position, so there shouldn’t necessarily be a big conflict.

    So, in the area of media and telecoms policy, I don’t see a huge role for Parliament at this time. It might — and probably should — change.


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