The heat's been on New New Labour (aka 'New Conservatives', 'Stalin's Bean Feast', etc) for several months now, and sleaze has been a central element of that. But lest we forget, the Tories were the masters of sleaze under John Major in the good ol' days of the mid-90s, and it's good to see Old Bexley and Sidcup MP Derek Conway keeping up the tradition.
Conway paid his son Freddie about £40,000 for three years of employment as a 'researcher' although there is no obvious evidence that he did any work whatsoever. Now, that's not necessarily incriminating in itself - parlimentary researchers don't tend to publish huge great wodges of research reports, for example. They tend to be more occupied with day-to-day "bits and pieces" - looking up statistics and references, for instance. But £13,000 per year is, to my knowledge, a pretty high rate for a parliamentary researcher even if Freddie wasn't just taking the money and doing naff all. It looks a hell of a lot like a way of funding the kid through university at the taxpayer's expense. Well, I guess once the Tories introduced student loans in teh early 90s we were always going to be on the slippery slope to this kind of thing.
Dave Cameron has acted quickly and decisively by withdrawing the whip from Conway, which is probably a sensible thing to do unless this kind of thing turns out to be rife on the backbenches, in which case the Tory party could be looking a bit thin in a few months' time.
The most ludicrous stance came from fellow Tory MP Roger Gale, who said that Mr Conway was "an honourable man" who was being accused by a Labour MP (John Mann) with an "axe to grind".
Yeah, right. So presumably Roger would say the same about Peter Hain and Alan Johnson? They're the subject of "witch hunts" too? Twat.
In any case it's good to see Tory sleaze back on the shelves, selling next to the Labour variety. So when are the Lib Dems gonna get in on the act?