DCSIMG

Tories’ class war an open goal for opposition

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That was the week that was, and a week that David Cameron would not like to see repeated. Because now it’s war – all out class war.

Recent events have given the rampant official opposition an open-goal opportunity to attack the Government, rightly or wrongly, for being interested only in the top echelons of society.

And the Government’s (particularly the Tories’) abysmal performance over recent weeks has plunged the Conservatives to rock bottom in the opinion polls, ensuring that they would be booted out of office if there was a general election tomorrow.

The Conservative handling of the Andrew Mitchell “plebgate” affair was shambolic – and that is being kind. The Prime Minister should have sacked him straight away. He even continued to defend him when it was obvious that Mitchell had lost the confidence and respect of huge numbers of Tory MPs, making it impossible for him to do the job of chief whip. After all the dither Mitchell finally realised he was done for. Why was he allowed to spin out the damage for so long?

Then we had the Chancellor George Osborne sitting in the first-class part of a train when he had bought only a standard class ticket. It may have been an innocent mistake, but that is not how disillusioned voters will view it.

Finally, Defence Minister Andrew Robathan reportedly tried to get soldiers removed from the public gallery of the Commons because, in his view, they were making too much noise.

No wonder the Labour leader Ed Miliband is rubbing his hands with glee. And no wonder the staff at 10 Downing Street are wringing their hands in anguish at this omnishambles. The Conservatives have two years or so to sort out this mess. And the clock is ticking...

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, has just written a powerful article insisting that “transparency” should be the Government’s watchword. “Transparency” is, of course, the buzz word for letting people know what is going on behind the scenes. Well, it doesn’t appear to have had much effect. Within hours of Maude’s impassioned plea, we discover that the Attorney General Dominic Grieve has banned the publication of letters that Prince Charles has been sending to ministers over the years, reportedly putting pressure on them to do what he feels they ought to do.

The excuse given by Mr Grieve is that publication could be detrimental to his role as the future King. That makes it even more tantalising.

We should have the right to know what the Heir to the Throne is saying, with the influence that he commands.

Then, we find that John Bercow has written to Commons expenses regulator, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, urging it not to disclose details of MPs’ landlords as the parliamentary “rent racket” has emerged.

 

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