Wednesday 3 June 2009

Telegraph protects Boris - but has he shamed the Tory party?

How many people have heard of Frank Cook, backbench Labour MP for Stockton North?

What about Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, who has the largest direct personal mandate of any politician in the country?

So isn't it an interesting set of news values at Telegraph towers to make Frank Cook's expenses the headline story in Sunday Telegraph's front-page splash - 'MP claimed £5 for church collection' - with a follow-up story on page two as well. The claim was rejected by the fees office.

While today, one has to get to the bottom corner and the penultimate story of page nine - the last page tagged as part of the investigation coverage today - to find the story 'Johnson claimed £16.50 for wreath". Again, the claim was rejected by the fees office.

I would be genuinely interested to know what - apart from Johnson being a Telegraph columnist - could possibly explain this.

Another claim for Remembrance wreaths - that by Tory MP James Gray - led to Tim Montgomerie arguing he must stand down from Parliament having brought shame on his party, and left Iain Dale "sick to his stomach".

I do not think either of the two leading Conservative websites has noted the Johnson claim yet. (The timing of the story certainly also helps Johnson - it being a rather convenient day to bury embarassing news).

Logically, I would have thought that they must surely be as critical of Boris Johnson's wreath claim as they were of Gray's (though somehow I doubt they will be calling for his banishment from politics). Or can they point out why the cases are different?


Unknown said...

The 'outrage' at claims for wreaths is bogus press puff. I don't think the man on the Clapham omnibus could care two hoots. That goes for Boris, Charles Kennedy, James Gray, and no doubt all of the Labour MPs who've done the same.

Claiming back a church offering is different.

Whether it's right or wrong, and irrespective of the exact facts, the public image with wreaths is that MPs are obliged to buy them to put on the 'show' at a commemoration, whereas a church donation is entirely voluntary.

Bearded Socialist said...

Spot on. Johnson is a Tory and Telegraph writer so get's away with it. Simple as