Simon Carr:

The Sketch: It's enough to make you feel sorry for them...

Share
Related Topics

She'd been called a thief by an elector in her constituency, "and if I'd been a man I would have punched him in the face because I'm not a thief!" No, but Anne Clwyd would have been guilty of assault, affray – and ABH if she was any good at punching.

It can be hard to maintain sympathy with MPs on the expenses issue; they emerge from the worst scandal in a century and immediately start claiming for – I don't know – payments on the African babies they're renting "for constituency purposes", and punching constituents who call them names.

However, in the spirit of public service she named, under privilege, the person at IPSA she believed guilty of offering to leak "the juicy bits" of the new expenses – the director of communications at IPSA.

Maybe the young woman will have been resigned by the time you read this, with severance pay, a relocation package and a place directing communications for the Commission for Standards in Public Life. What, in parenthesis, is IPSA doing with a director of communications? And why are they paying the best part of half a million quid for offices?

Boy, MPs hate IPSA. Roger Gale said the old Fees Office staff had been drawn in and demoralised by "a climate of mistrust inculcated and imposed by the chairman and interim chief executive". And if they achieve their aims they will produce a parliamentary population of "junior anoraks with no experience of life, or the very, very rich".

From stories you hear, there is indeed something abusive about the way IPSA conducts its business. They tell MPs how many times they can visit their constituency. They turn down claims for ordinary office equipment. They make life very difficult for family life – especially for younger mothers.

They also pay in arrears, so MPs suddenly might have to arrange an overdraft of £10,000 to run their office. "You've got plenty of money, you're an MP," IPSA staff are reported to have said, "pay for it yourself."

It is the revenge of the mandarins; it has a punitive element in it that is as offensive as duck houses. Adam Afriyie pitched for the debate to the new Backbench Business Committee – and produced to an appreciative House a cunning argument, and a plausible strategy.

It wasn't about MPs and their difficulties, he said. It was about us, constituents, voters, taxpayers, democracy. It's an audacious line but it has a chance. His offer is that IPSA produces a streamlined version of itself by 30 April or Parliament will legislate for it. And maybe there's a chance of that as well.

If you take MPs' accounts of it, IPSA is Gordon Brown's last bequest. Bureaucratic, expensive, cumbersome, self-righteous and vindictive. It's a last whiff of sulphur.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mechanical Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A key client in the East Midlands are re...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...

Supply Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply TeachersWould you l...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: fathers looking after children, World Cup questions and Nostradamus

John Rentoul
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Phone and data laws to be passed in haste

Andrew Grice
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice