Friday, May 15, 2009

A Couple Of Triple Flippin' Cheats

Brown's golden cabinet couple have been exposed as triple flippers buried in the latest revelations from the Telegraph, as a shamed justice minister is forced to quit and New Labour sinks to an all time low in the polls. 

Husband and wife cabinet ministers, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper 'flipped' homes three times designating their second home to three different properties within the space of two years, according to the Telegraph.

At one point, the couple had their expenses docked, after each submitted two monthly claims for mortgage interest of nearly £1,300. And officials also warned them that they had submitted the same claim, for the month of July 2006, twice.

Brown's cabinet darlings were let off the hook over their use of MPs' homes expenses in October when parliament's sleaze watchdog investigated the married ministers, after it was claimed they had been able to "maximise" their taxpayer-funded second homes allowances, by claiming their London home was their main home.

The couple then faced a complaint that they may have broken the spirit or the letter of the rules on commons' housing allowance, following a newspaper report accusing the couple of exploiting the rules to buy an expensive home and get their children into a "top state school".

Today's revelations put the couple, who are among Brown's closest allies, back in the firing line and are a further blow for bunkered Brown and his "smearing" side-kick Balls, as global financial wire-service Bloomberg reveals to the world Brown's dismal leadership and shows Cameron winning hands down.  

Trust in parliament is shattered. The Supreme Leader should live up to his moniker. Get a grip and show some leadership man. Pen a line to his trusted lieutenants. No puns, no adjectival reporting, a simple 'Dear Ed and Yvette', as above, will suffice. Then have the guts to call a general election.

Fiddling expenses and cheap accounting tricks are not what you'd expect  from senior members of the government, particularly ones who worked, still work and have aspirations to work again in the Treasury of all places.

Meanwhile shamed justice minister Shahid Malik who spent the morning ranting on TV with the tired old mantra about doing nothing wrong was finally forced to quit as justice minister pending an inquiry, as more heads roll in the MPs expenses racket. Ducking and diving, he refused point blank to pay back any of his ill-gotten gains. 

Malik was revealed by the Telegraph to be running up the highest second homes expenses claim of any MP amounting to £66,827 over three years and renting his main home from a "convicted slum landlord", something he described as a "fabrication". 

In what is turning out to be another bad hair day for Billy-no-mates Brown and his greedy bunch of chancers, the Sun revealed they'd sunk to new depths in the polls and the relentless round of scandalous MPs' expenses revelations is leaving the Orange Party searching for the green shoots of a snap election.


Green Shoots Of A Snap Election?

Billy-no-mates Brown and his greedy chancers have sunk to a new low in the polls. The latest MPs' expenses shock leaves many searching for green shoots of a snap election.

There's no end in sight for the long-suffering public as the greedy, the arrogant and the downright criminal try to cling on to power to the bitter end.

It's rock and roll as greedy government ministers are back in the firing line of the shameful expenses scandal which has rocked Westminster to its core and left the public rolling in disgust.

Shamed justice minister Shahid Malik is revealed to be running up the highest second homes expenses claim of any MP amounting to £66,827 over three years and renting his main home from a "convicted slum landlord". Former cabinet minister Clare Short is up to her neck too after she wrongly claimed more than £8,000 in parliamentary expenses.

Malik is sitting tight churning out the tired old mantra that he's done nothing wrong, claiming the Telegraph's expenses-based report that he paid only £100 a week in rent on his "main home" in his Dewsbury constituency was a "fabrication". Short says it was all a mistake.

Apologies and bleatings about the rules, even whipping out the chequebook were so yesterday's news. Just have the guts to quit your cushy number and give the public a rest from the endless drivel.

Force the worst culprits to quit. Force a by-election. Put our money where their mouth is and if they are so bent on serving the public, stand as an Independent without the Party comfy cushion. Fat chance.

On the day when the rotten expenses scandal claimed its first scalps with ex-minister Elliot Morley suspended from the Party and Tory aide Andrew Mackay quitting over their expenses fiddles, the Downing Street spinners had the cheek to release a nasty, violent Party Election broadcast to frighten the children.

Some sharp-suited guy beating hell out of a punch bag blaming everything on that "Cameron". So much for Brown's bleatings about reducing everything to personality not policy.

Meanwhile bunkered, blinkered, bull-boy Brown and his New Labour bunch have slumped to its lowest polling level in history.

If Brown's ministers needed any reminding of the damage MPs expenses is having on parliament and democracy, the sensational YouGov poll for the Sun, putting New Labour on just 22%, Tories on 42% and LibDems on 19, says it all.

But with such a disastrous showing in the polls and ministers exposed in relentless expenses revelations, would they be that suicidal to give up their cushy Westminster number with a snap election?

The nightmare on Downing Street needs a major miracle if the named and shamed think they can close the gap to a Tory single digit lead over the next six miserable months.

Westminster has already been engulfed in Smeargate and the rotting carcass of MPs expenses. Events always have a nasty habit of turning up when you least expect them.

Cameron has his own cross to bear with UKIP, but Brown and New Labour will be Euro trashed. Calls for a change in leadership won't be far behind. A reshuffle soon after is on the cards as Brown plays his last card. But the country and constitution have no stomach for yet another unelected prime minister.

For born-again Brown, his salvation lies in the lies of the economy and whether the country will recover from the recession depression which is his election obsession. Will it be U-shaped, V-shaped, W-shaped or pear-shaped. That depends on which economic forecast takes your fancy.

Clearing the air of the rotten stench with a general election is the only solution. Looking in vain for green shoots is not a forlorn hope. The signs are there if you look hard enough.

A vote of no confidence in the national disgrace of a commons speaker and New Labour crony Martin is getting closer and stronger. A shamed minister could do the honourable thing for a change and quit as an MP, forcing a by-election and forcing Brown's hand. Knacker of the Yard or the Mail crusade could do the job for them.

Mandy's private Mail plan could deliver another commons defeat with a backbench revolt. In the Lords, two New Labour cronies face suspension for the first time since the English Revolution.

The Brown government is toast. In a lose-lose situation the pressure will be relentless. Along with the government, the long-suffering public need some hope of green shoots to cling on to. But only one plant will survive, the other will wither and die.

UPDATE 11.45am: Malik has quit as justice minister pending an expenses inquiry.

Top picture: Sun, Lower graphic: Martin Day


Thursday, May 14, 2009

How Many More Scalps Will It Take?

The rotten MPs' expenses scandal has claimed its first scalps with a hard-line ex-New Labour minister suspended from the Party and a top Tory quitting as Cameron's aid, as the public rounds on the robbers after their highway robbery.  

The politically odd couple are the first to fall victim to the public clamour for a clean-up and clear-out as the endless round of sleaze and expenses scandals wreaks havoc at Westminster, bringing with it anger and disgust from voters. 

As the Guardian's Patrick Barkham puts it: "A nation united in howling outrage."  

MPs have only themselves to blame. A spinning New Labour mantra of "only obeying rules" gave way to the hairiest hairshirt competition and chequebooks at dawn, as embattled leaders from all parties tried to complete in the leadership stakes. 

The prime minister-in-waiting is coming out on top, leaving bunkered Brown struggling to play catch-up.  

Cameron's disgraced senior advisor, Andrew MacKay, last spotted with terror cops over the Damian Green affair, is  the first top Tory to quit his place in the pecking order, after an “unacceptable” double your money expenses game ended in double trouble for the MP married to a fellow Tory MP.

But it is the revelations over ex-government minister Elliot Morley which are potentially the most politically damaging for the government and in particular the flagging Supreme Leader.  

£16,000 of taxpayers cash for a mortgage that did not exist is hard for voters to swallow and stomach. For the first time the Telegraph's revelations exposed a dodgy claim where  the words  "fraud" and a "criminal offence" are muttered in the same breath. 

Earlier Brown had the cheek to duck the issue and turn his back on the cameras to avoid questions about the expenses scandal when he visited a school with sick-kick Ed Balls. 

But the signs were not looking good for the Scunthorpe MP as he faced Brown's sergeant-at-armstwisting and namesake, Nick Brown and he was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party. Morley could well end up with an appointment with Knacker of the Yard.

The former teacher and now privy counsellor has come a long way since taking the Blair shilling and has been a consistent supporter of Blair/Brown policy. Now he's been shown the door to face the disgrace of being shunned by his Party in parliament.

For 21 months he claimed £800 per month on a mortgage he had already paid off. That allegation of negligence alone is serious enough to merit a criminal test in court.

Politicians from all parties, under fire from the public over their shoddy expense claims, are lining up to try to make peace with voters. The shamed MPs have started on the long road of paying back thousands of pounds of public money in a bid to assuage voter anger. 

But trailing badly in the polls, it is Brown's ruling New Labour Party and his brutal and blinkered leadership style which will have the most to lose. 

For Morley and others caught out in blatant fiddles there should be only one course of action as the public lose faith in parliament altogether: 

If Brown won't call a snap general election, pay back the ill-gotten gains, stand down, force a by-election, stand again as an Independent and let voters decide their fate. 

For Morley, with a majority of 9000 but without a New Labour comfy cushion, that wouldn't be easy. 

Slippery Tony Blair meanwhile will escape the wrath of expenses claims, covering his 'cool' housing deals. Apparently his incriminating receipts were "accidentally" shredded. His cronies in the Lords are not so lucky with a highly unusual suspension move. 

For the first time since the English Revolution, two New Labour peers, former minister Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn exposed by the Sunday Times in the "cash for laws" scandal face suspension, after a sleaze inquiry found them guilty of misconduct. The pair were exposed when undercover hacks posed as lobbyists to try to get changes to government legislation in return for cash.

As always in politics, familiarly breeds contempt, contempt breeds greed and greed breeds corruption. The pack of cards is starting to fall. 

The question now being asked is how many more scalps will it take and how many heads will have roll to satisfy the public's demand for vengeance? Will Brown ever put his tribal party political posturing to one side and call a snap general election to clear the air?


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Bang, Tears And Unhappy Ending

It's chequebooks at dawn as the bad and the ugly play follow the new Leader in Westminster pay-back time. MPs are hoping the Telegraph's fickle finger of fate is running its course. But events have a nasty habit of turning up when you least expect them. Stand by for another nasty surprise. 

Trying to close the expensesgate after the pigs have troughed and the horses  bolted has left behind the rotten stench of damaging debris. MPs are competing for the hairiest hairshirt in town as they pay back their ill-gotten gains. 

Where Cameron leads, others followed, copying him and playing catch-up. He showed his mettle at PMQs. Brown was out of touch, out of his depth and just wanted to be out of here. But the worse may be yet to come. 

Clegg has asked his MPs to repay dodgy claims.  Bunkered Brown is a-huffin' and a-puffin', putting on his make-up and serious smile,  calling for the bleedin' obvious "independent scrutiny" of expenses.  

MPs broke out into a sweat as the Telegraph's relentless drip-feed of damaging revelations fingered the high and now not so mighty from all parties. 

But so far its all been about lavs and lawnmowers, bathplugs and barbecues - and the flippin' second homes fiddle which is at the centre of the outrageous scam.

Some have come up squeaky clean, some escaped by the skin of their teeth, others exposed as greedy chancers, spivs and crooks. 

But one thing still puzzles the Orange Party. Which odd couples claims could spell double trouble? Who's ready to have their collar felt by the Old Bill? And in the middle of all the shenanigans, where's the sex?

The Telegraph has milked it for all its worth and exposed the greedy bunch of chancers with their snouts in the trough, milking the rotten system for all its worth, exposing an expenses scandal festering for years. And for that the newspaper deserve a Public Service Medal. 

Have any couples been playing 'double your money'? Who's set for an appointment with Knacker of the Yard? Who's been having it away with an awayday expenses ticket?

After all, the Telegraph knows where they say they live, who they've been calling and where they've been shacking up.

Maybe the Orange Party is just a cynical old cynic and MPs are inhuman after all. 

Toasted Blears has been forced to get her cheque book out in the full glare of the media like a little sacrificial lamb to the slaughter. The future of disgraced speaker Martin hangs in the balance.  Heath minister Phil 'No' Hope has finally got his chequebook out for a whopping £41,709, plus expenses. 

But so far there have been no scalps and no resignations. The race is still on to find that golden bullet of trust to capture the political high ground and make peace with the voters. 

Cameron has won the first round. But the biggest casualty has been Brown playing catch-up

The expenses scandal brought out the worse qualities of Brown's political leadership style when it's the public mood that sets the agenda rather than carefully timed, placed and spun policy announcements.

It happened over the Gurkhas. It's happening over expenses. Brown and the New Labour cabinet like to control and be in control. He must put tribal party political posturing aside for the good of the country and parliament if his Party is to survive.

But the Orange Party gets the impression the Supreme Leader sees this whole expenses thing as an irritating diversion from his task of 'saving the world' and he comes across as arrogant, self-satisfied and out of touch with the public mood. 

Cameron is looking every inch a true leader and Brown's lot don't like it one bit.

Cameron was cross, Brown was blinkered and bunkered and clumsy Clegg just looked daft. Why on earth didn't he get in quick with a pay-back before the Telegraph went live last night? 

The Telegraph hasn't gone to all this trouble for nothing. The slow drip feed on expenses came under fire from New Labour spinners who wanted it all out into the open in one fell swoop. 

But they would, wouldn't they. When you're in the firing line, send out a smokescreen and blind with confusion. 

The Orange Party doesn't want to stick its journalistic neck out and spend the day sucking lemons, but it won't end in a whimper. More likely a bang and certainly in tears. 

Interesting to note the MPs who haven't been fingered yet by the Telegraph. Make your own list, draw your own conclusions. Tomorrow is just another day. 

Lower Picture: Front cover Private Eye


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dave Leads The Way, Where's Gordon?

Cameron has grasped the nettle and found a golden bullet to get to grips with the expenses scandal, leaving Billy-no-mates Brown high and dry. 

Looking genuinely angry as the Tory toffs side of the scandal blew up in his face, the prime minister-in-waiting did more than a little before it was  too late.

As the government-in-waiting and the Tories in the Telegraph firing line, today was always about how Cameron would deal with the squalid scandals among his own kind. 

Dave didn't disappoint. He said sorry, again.  He ordered his motley crew of MPs to repay questionable allowances, promised future transparency, stopped the rot of future extravagant claims and made a start on the flipping second homes fiddle at the heart of the scandal.

It was an impressive performance but for voters maybe just that - a performance. The jury is still out on whether he's done enough to capture and keep the political high ground before the elections swing around. 

The race was on to find a golden 'expenses' bullet to clear the air, make peace with voters and come out with a scrap of dignity.

But where was Brown? Delivering a speech on 'crime', while Mandy had a go at 'enterprise'. How fitting.

Both Brown and Cameron have been sent scrabbling around for the magic bullet to get themselves out of the mess without shooting themselves in the foot. 

The rot cannot be left to fester away dragging down with it any dignity left in parliament. But that calls for firm, bold, trusting leadership.

Battered Brown's political cabinet looked grim-faced today as they tried to salvage something from the wreckage of the expenses scandal and his doomed premiership. 

Brutal Brown's petty style of politics, looking for someone to blame and  a sacrificial lamb for the slaughter are useless political tools for the crisis which has engulfed the whole of Westminster.

The Labour Party has to find a way to break free from the stranglehold of sleaze and scandals, with or without Brown.

The answer from Cameron was to tell his greedy lot in the most blatant cases to pay back their ill-gotten gains or clear off with their tails between their legs. As Benedict Brogan observes, Cameron looked every inch a leader and Brown's lot don't like it one bit. 

Cameron has faced the music head on, Brown left his cheerleader Hattie Harman to play catch-up and do the dirty work. But trying to get any kind of reform past New Labour's gatekeeper would be impossible while speaker Martin remained in office. 

No change there. Though there are signs of a start to rid the commons of  the excuse for a speaker who's turned into a national disgrace.

The weekend of spinning and bleating about only obeying orders and "following the rules", blaming it on "the system" are well and truly over and cut no ice in the court of public opinion. 

Brown’s disastrous premiership is over. But he still needs to find a golden 'expenses' bullet and fire a final shot  for the sake of his Party.  

Taste the difference. Brown was  interviewed on a train when the Telegraph story broke – doing everything he can, getting on with the job, blaming "the system" all with smug self-satisfied arrogance. 

Echoing the public’s anger, Cameron showed again his sensitive side. Sensitive to the mood of voters and the ballot box, sure but chiming with voters who are pissed off with the whole sordid expenses scandal. Compare that to Brown's moronic performance. 

Some top Tories who've been caught out have been busy writing pay-back cheques this afternoon, and so they should. Cameron named and shamed and told them bluntly where to stick their squalid expenses, at a stroke striking the right balance. 

As for Brown, that golden bullet has got his name on it. In times of public disgust first impressions count. It boils down to trust. 

Many voters are unsure whether they can trust Cameron. But Brown? His past record speaks for itself. They wouldn't trust him as far as they could throw him.


A Golden Bullet Of Trust

The race is on to find a golden 'trust' bullet to capture the political high ground after the squalid expenses racket, clear the air, make peace with voters and come out with a scrap of dignity. Today Brown delivers a speech on 'crime', Mandelson one on 'enterprise'. How ironic. 'Crime' and 'enterprise' go hand in hand,  as the sordid MPs expenses scandal shows no signs of abating. 

Both Brown and Cameron are scrabbling around to get themselves out of the mess. 

Today there's a once in a political lifetime opportunity for Dave and Gord to grasp the nettle and find a golden bullet without shooting themselves in the foot. The alternative is to let the whole sorry mess rot and fester away and drag any dignity parliament has left down with it. 

Battered Brown's political cabinet will today try to salvage something from the wreckage of his doomed premiership. But Guardianista Blair babe, Polly Toynbee, has launched a devastating attack on bunkered Brown, urging Labour MPs to dump him. With friends like Toynbee who needs enemies. 

Ex-Labour Party general secretary, Peter Watt, has already blown the gaff on the brutal style of Brown tribal politics. He'll look for someone to blame, a scapegoat, a sacrificial lamb for the slaughter. 

McCavity's track record on bold, decisive decisions isn't good but both Brown and Cameron need to restore trust to break free from the stranglehold of sleaze and scandals. 

For both the answer is easy: Tell their  greedy lot  in the most blatant cases to pay back their ill-gotten gains and scram with their tails between their legs.

Today's Telegraph revelations centre on Tory toffs swanking it up on their country estates at the taxpayers expense. Whatever next? The pope's catholic and bear shit's found in woods? 

Anyone who believes the old feudal aristocracy has been transformed into a shiny new liberal democracy is living in cloud cuckoo land. They just packed the wellies in the Range Rover and found a new home in the commons. 

Exposing a rotten culture of ''bung it all on expenses" reinforces the public's disgust with the rotting expenses system. But at the heart is the shocking scandal of the greedy crooks and spivs who've flipped their second homes to  fiddle MPs expenses with one hand and the tax man with the other. 

That is the most damning outrage and indictment of an expenses system which is rotten to the core. And it is that which needs to change now. 

Scrap the scandalous second homes allowance altogether. Replace it with a fixed rate 'London living' allowance for all MPs outside the capital. Ruthlessly cut back the rest of the freebie allowances and expenses which MPs can claim. 

But fat chance that would get past the disgraced commons, speaker Michael Martin.

Labour back-bencher Kate Hoey was shot down in flames with a disgusting display of arrogance when she had the audacity to challenge the speaker and there lies the problem.

Trying to get any kind of reform past New Labour's gatekeeper is impossible while Martin remains in office. 

Hoey is outside the government's New Labour loop. Martin's job has been to set a loop so wide, MPs can drive 4x4s through it, making it a doddle for his cronies to swagger through. 

The Orange Party can spot a handful of decent and honourable MPs and takes its cloth cap off to them. 

Labour's Hoey is one, LibDem Norman Baker and Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell two others. But out of 300 odd MPs not many and none among the rancid New Labour cabinet and ministers and Tory money-grabbers. Only a honest handful as the Telegraph dishes up a daily diet of drip-fed disgrace. 

Both Dave and Gordon needs to act and act now, Clegg too before the Telegraph turns on his lot. Stop the June 4 English local shire and Euro elections turning into an anti-politician shambles.

Withdraw the whip from MPs with blatant and flagrant expenses excesses, make them pay back the cash, name and shame them and hound them out of Westminster. And start with the excuse for a speaker who's turned out to be a national disgrace.

The weekend of spinning and bleating about only obeying orders and "following the rules", blaming it on "the system" are well and truly over and cut no ice in the court of public opinion. Shame on the spinners who fed them those lines.

Brown and Cameron's two sorries were too late. Brown’s disastrous premiership is over. This sleazy scandalous parliament should be over too. What is needed is bold, trusted leadership and a fresh start to clear the rotten air. And that means a general election now.

Brown still needs to find a golden 'trust' bullet and fire a final shot to break out of the relentless round of sleaze and scandals for the sake of his Party.  He should start with a purge of his crooks and second-rate spivs.

But, as the government in waiting, it’s how Cameron deals with the squalid scandals among his own kind that matters most.

As the quest to find that golden bullet to break out of the squalid mess intensifies, for Brown, his bullet has got his name on it.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Two Sorries, Two Browns, Too Late

Freshly made-up Brown bounced back with a fulsome apology and a new make-over over the expenses scam which has rocked Westminster and left MPs in a cold sweat. Only it was all a tad too late. Darn Dave had got in there before him. 

After hiding away for days in the bunker while the flippin' New Labour expenses scam exploded in his face, battered Brown suddenly found his make-up bag and popped up to say 'sorry', sort of, as he played followed the (new) leader. 

But in a cunning piece of political timing, the spluttering S-word only came out after some front-bench Tories were slammed as a rotten lot of greedy chancers. Cameron had already got in quick with an apology, quick as a flash, last night. Though tomorrow could be a bad day for back-bench Tories bracing themselves for the Telegraph's damaging drip-feed.

Bad timing, crafty political footwork or unable to make up his mind about whether to use Polyfilla or foundation cream?

MPs expenses are a sick joke. But whatever the political colours, it's all too little too late. The Orange Party prefers the pale and interesting look but even with the make-up cannot get its head round exactly which bits Brown is apologising for. 

Is it "the system" of a flipping second homes fiddle which has been festering for years on his watch? 

Is is the stark truth that a decade of power has left greedy cabinet and low-life ministers taking the easy ride on the gravy train?

Or maybe with some Tories in the firing line at last, now was a good day to bury the bad news about his cronies who've been milking the system for all its worth in both houses of parliament. Time to come over all statesman-like. And orange.

Pale-faced Brown was left red-faced this morning after the Sun reported his make-up tips had been left in a taxi by a bungling aide. But no doubt he can claim it all on expenses. Isn't that what Blair did with his make-up bill?

Despite the make-over and half-baked apology hard questions over squalid expenses still remain. Today's 'sorry' has taken the heat off Cameron's Tories and thrown the ball back in Brown's court. 

So why not just scrap expenses altogether? Fix a salary tied to a civil service spine, couple it with a single flat rate London living allowance for all MPs outside the capital and cut back on the over generous freebie first-class travel and the like. 

After all, MPs go into politics to serve the people not feather their own nest. Somehow it's unlikely that radical plan will get past the speaker. 

But what has been scotched is the flammed up spinning plan dreamt up by Blair's knighted MP Sir Stuart Bell to use the smokescreen of a new audit fees office to hide receipts from FOI laws after a timely intervention by the Times

Meanwhile back in the real world, for everyone else struggling to make ends meet, it's still the economy stupid. 

No doubt the Supreme Leader is wrestling with the great affairs of state. How to wrong-foot the Tories and knife his own kind in the back, what to do about getting Euro trashed on June 4 and what to do with his own pesky party politicians lining up to have a pop at his premiership.

More worrying is the highly unusual move of Tory peers who usually keep their noses out of commons affairs now calling for a general election to clear the air. For the Tories, that one will run and run.

It will take more than new make-up to make up for a decade of lost time, lost opportunity, lost make-up tips and a lost plot. 

Brown needs to find a magic 'expenses' bullet and fire a final shot to break out of the relentless round sleaze and scandals which have engulfed Westminster and his MPs. He could start with a purge of his crooks and second-rate spivs.

Picture: Brown make-over before and after


Cameron's 'Sorry' Shows Up Brown

Tory leader David Cameron has been quick to say sorry and urged MPs caught out in the expenses sham to apologise, as revelations turn the spotlight on top Tories, now under fire after the relentless battering of New Labour ministers. Showing bunkered Brown and his bunch of greedy cronies how it should be dealt with, some Tory peers now reckon only a general election can clear the rotten air. 

The Telegraph's revelations reveal a handful of top Tories living it up on the Westminster gravy train of shame but none can hold a candle to the widespread flipping over second homes which is dogging Brown's cabinet and low-life ministers. 

Cameron was in like a shot last night, shortly after the Telegraph story broke, saying his MPs must say sorry over controversial expenses claims. That's a far cry from the dithering and moronic performance of battered bunkered Brown, as the disgusting second homes allowance scam engulfs his greedy bunch of chancers. 

In a sideways snipe at Brown and his New Labour crooks who've hidden behind the rotten rules, blaming "the system", Cameron said: "The public are really angry and we have to start by saying, look, this system that we had, that we used, that we operated, that we took part in - it was wrong and we're sorry about it."

The revelations are deeply embarrassing for some greedy Tories. They got it coming to them and deserved to be named and shamed. Some are promising to pay back their ill-gotten gains. 

Alan Duncan must be cursing the day he dangled a gold-plated Smith-style bath-plug on Have I Got News For You - not a good idea - and Cameron seems to be genuinely hopping mad about the whole affair. But it's not as bad for the Tories as some had feared and others had wished. 

As the Orange Party and others have been pointing out - as well as the bung it all on expenses culture, it is the flipping and fiddling of second homes to exploit the expenses system and milk it dry which is at the centre of the scandal. 

Some senior Tories have come out of it with rotten egg on their faces and should hang their heads in shame but there's nothing in the revelations to touch the wholesale shameful practice of the New Labour cabinet and ministers. Though the Telegraph has yet to reveal the scale of any back-bench Tory scams.

The Telegraph claims Michael Gove and Andrew Lansley both "flipped" properties designated as their second homes to claim for multiple properties at the taxpayers' expense. 

Other senior Tories who made dodgy claims include Alan Duncan claiming thousands for gardening and Oliver Letwin claiming £2,000 to replace a pipe under his tennis court. 

But Gove does seem to have been unfairly branded a "flipper" on his second home designation and just moved homes. 

What no one wanted to hear was another round of bleatings of the tired New Labour line that it was "all within the rules". Cameron didn't disappoint. He said sorry. 

Acknowledge it, say sorry, pay any money back where appropriate, sort it out properly, move on.

Top Tories who punters may have heard off - Cameron and Hague - have come up squeaky clean, though shadow chancellor Osborne, had the cheek to claim for a chauffeur using his office allowance.

Meanwhile the spinning over a "new" audit unit revealed by Blair's knighted MP Sir Stuart Bell which was flammed up yesterday is being shot down in flames as nothing more than a smokescreen and part of a "Labour plot" to keep MPs' allowances under wraps in the future, according to the Times

Cameron's lot have got off lightly but then they would. At the heart is the rotten culture of a second homes scam, with greedy New Labour cronies in both Houses flitting and flipping away to feather their own nest.

After a decade of power, familiarity has bred contempt. Contempt breeds greed. Greed breeds corruption and with it the damning, damaging end-game of a fag-end government and morally corrupt ministers. 

The doomed New Labour project is rotting in its own Brown mess. Only a general election now can clear the air.

In highly unusual moves for peers, former commons deputy speaker, Tory Lord Naseby, said parliament had been brought "right down into the pits" and should be dissolved if the expenses scandal continues to rumble on, leaving a fresh vote and general election the only option. And, as William Rees-Mogg puts it in today's Times: "A new prime minister, a new parliament and a new speaker would help to restore public confidence."

UPDATE 10am: After hiding in the bunker for a couple of days Brown finally got round to saying 'sorry'. Sort of. A tad too late old chap.