Daily Archives: 28 January 2008

A tale of two sleaze stories

Yesterday, the media got itself into a tizzy over a story about Alan Johnson that I’m pleased to see most Lib Dem bloggers seem entirely unimpressed by.

Today, Derek Conway MP has been suspended from Parliament for two weeks for apparently defrauding the taxpayer out of £40,000 to pay his kid’s pocket money at university. That’s ignoring the £22,000 he claims for a second home despite his constituency being 12 miles from Westminster (hat tip: Duncan Borrowman).

There does seem to be a certain level of hypocrisy at work here. Government ministers are being hounded, and in one case hounded out of office for not taking the law on donations seriously enough and being a bit stupid, but even in Hain’s case there doesn’t appear to have been any serious corruption. Meanwhile Conway appears to have been lining his own pockets without the media paying any attention until now. This isn’t hubris or incompetence but good old fashioned corruption. Shamefully, it took a BNP member to issue the complaint (anyone know if Michael Barnbrook is any relation to gay porn film-maker Richard?).

If Hain’s cock up was severe enough to lose him his job (and I’m not saying it wasn’t), then Conway’s behaviour warrants far greater punishment. If any sleaze scandal ought to involve Scotland Yard, it’s this one.

At the very least, will Cameron withdraw the whip and force him to be deselected?

UPDATE: I’ve been asked to clarify that Conway hasn’t actually been suspended from Parliament yet.

Nuclear policy: where subsidies aren’t subsidies and safety is dangerous

Two stories to chew over for the nuclear debate:

First is the revelation that the government not only accepts that the nuclear industry should not be required to clean up any nuclear accident, but was surreptitiously planning to change the law to specifically exempt the industry from paying any costs.

But of course, we have nothing to worry about because nuclear is safe, right? In Canada the head of their safety commission has been sacked for doing her job too well. Her insistence that a power plant should remain closed threatened the supply of medical isotopes and the government now plans to change the law to ensure the continued production of such isotopes is part of the Commission’s remit. Never mind the fact that the plant in question doesn’t have two backup cooling pumps that it is required to have in case of an emergency.

So subsidies aren’t subsidies and insisting on safety is dangerous? Such Kafka-esque doublethink hardly helps us have an honest and open debate on the subject.