The Diary: When conviction politicians are really not welcome

  • @andymcsmith

The proposal that Lord Taylor and Lord Hanningfield be suspended from the House of Lords for 12 months and nine months respectively will inevitably raise questions about why they are getting off so lightly.

The four MPs who drew prison sentences in the wake of the expenses scandal have lost their seats, been denied the generous "resettlement grants" normally received upon leaving the Commons, and will not be seen in Parliament. But Lords Taylor and Hanningfield could be back wearing ermine, speaking in debates and pocketing their attendance allowances by next summer.

In fairness to the Lords Privileges and Conduct committee, suspension was the harshest penalty in their armoury. The constitutional position is that a life peer is a peer for life, no matter what he does. Jeffrey Archer, who was sentenced to four years in prison for perjury 10 years ago, is still Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare, and could retake his seat any time he wanted. He has chosen to stay away. There will doubtless be disapproving looks if Lord Taylor or Lord Hanningfield has the gall to show his face in the building again, but they cannot be removed unless or until the Government carries through the reform of the Lords that it has been promising.

DSK is a bleu movie star

This had to happen. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the coitally overactive ex-head of the IMF, has achieved the recognition he deserves. Top French porn producers, Colmax, are working on a film entitled "DXK".

Tribune rises from the ashes

It was a pleasure to turn the pages of yesterday's edition of Tribune, because it was something we never thought we would do again. The death of this little left-wing publication, whose past employees or contributors include George Orwell, Michael Foot, Chris Mullin and many others, was announced just over a week ago in The Independent and elsewhere. This was true on the day, but an agreement with the National Union of Journalists has allowed the paper to return from near death as a cooperative.

How to remember Maxwell?

Twenty years ago today Robert Maxwell, owner of the Daily Mirror, fell off his yacht and drowned. Few deaths have prompted such extravagant praise as his did, on day one. The Mirror's front page was dedicated to "A Great Big Extraordinary Man." Rupert Murdoch sent a message of commiseration to the family of this "remarkable man". The Prime Minister, John Major, called him "a great character who will be missed" while Alastair Campbell, political editor of the Mirror, punched The Guardian's Michael White for thinking that Maxwell's death was a suitable subject for black humour. Though Campbell was ticked off by the Commons authorities, the leading tabloid commentator of that era, John Junor, praised his loyalty. There was a crunching gear change in the commentariat a month later, when it emerged that Maxwell had pillaged £500m from pension funds he controlled.