20:52  |  10 December 11
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Chamber of Debate



Alan Duncan: what the papers and blogs are saying

Andrew Sparrow rounds up reaction to the shadow leader of the Commons's recorded comments on MPs' pay and conditions

Kirsty Walker in the Daily Mail says that Alan Duncan's career is "hanging in the balance" after his recorded comments on MPs' pay and conditions.

David Cameron, who was last night travelling back from his family holiday, is understood to be planning to make a decision about Mr Duncan's future within the next couple of days. One senior insider said: "Nobody knows what the future holds. But David is taking a very dim view of this."

The Daily Telegraph reports that many Tory insiders do not expect Duncan to get a cabinet job if Cameron wins the election.

"He's finished," said one frontbencher. "It might not be today or tomorrow, but he's living on borrowed time and he'll be gone by the new year." Another called his complaint "stupid", while a third said: "He's made an idiot of himself, and not for the first time. He just doesn't learn, and sooner or later it'll do for him."

Jim Pickard at the Financial Times blog defends Duncan.

That Duncan extended the invite to Heydon Prowse, editor of a magazine called Don't Panic – after Prowse had trashed his flowerbed as a post-expensesgate prank – seems to reflect quite well on the Tory MP. And anyone who has met Duncan would think his comment about "living on rations" could well be a joke, albeit a typically silly one.

Paul Goodman MP at ConservativeHome says that there will be more incidents like the one that exposed Duncan.

Regardless of whether or not MPs are treated like ****, this little incident is the wave of the future. Be afraid, candidates: the next election will be the YouTube election – perhaps, we should say, the Big Brother election, or even the Basil Fawlty election. The moment of exasperation, the frank admission, the confession of ignorance, the policy blunder, the joke better not made, the verbal slip misrepresented as racist insult, the tie or frock that on the whole is a mistake (especially if the one is worn with the other) the absent-minded removal of earwax, the blurting-out of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – all these are set to be immortalised on film and viewed online, for as long as human interest lasts.

Iain Dale on his blog says he cannot defend Duncan's remarks, but that Lord Mandelson's reaction was hypocritical.

Quite the most jaw dropping comment of the day has to come from Peter Mandelson, who complains about Alan Duncan saying one thing in private and another thing in public. This from the man who waxed lyrical about Gordon Brown's deficiencies to George Osborne in private ... you can finish the sentence yourself. But I digress ...

Dizzy Thinks has watched the video and has some sympathy for the shadow leader of the Commons.

Personally speaking, having watched the video, it all strikes me as typically British gallows humour, but the damage it causes, irrespective of whether it should be taken as serious views or not is the problem.

But Peter Hoskin at Coffee House says that, having watched the video, he's not convinced that Duncan was joking.

I know I said before that I'm inclined to believe Duncan's excuse – that the comments were made in jest – but the more I watch the clip, the less convinced I am. Intentional hyperbole – perhaps. A joke – hmm. Either way, it's a stark error of judgement on the shadow leader's part.

And Hattie Garlick at Comment Central has a collection of other gaffes caught on tape.

Alan Duncan today joins a rogues' gallery of the rich and infamous to have been caught on tape making their private thoughts inopportunely public. He may, at least, draw some comfort from the illustrious political figures already lining its walls.
Vote: Should Alan Duncan stay in the Shadow cabinet?

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Members Comments

Andromeda 15-Aug-2009 9:47

I cannot see what, if anything, Duncan has done or said that shows he has any affection for the discredited expenses system.

It is quite clear that the expenses system was a way of making it up to the MPs who could previously vote themselves a payrise.

It is the leaders who are to blame, because they deprived their members of a vote and fobbed them off with the expenses system, thinking that we would not notice.
Hally40 14-Aug-2009 12:40
Personally I can't see what all the fuss is about. Typically over the top media hype which is further hyped by those wanting blood.
stuartac 14-Aug-2009 11:6
He is ready to squeeze the last drop out of the system even though he does not have a 'need'. Commonly referred to as greed. It doesn't mean he shouldn't be in the shadow cabinet. It means he shouldn't be in politics. He certainly won't get re-elected next year.

Politicians are supposed to be the 'directors' of 'United Kingdom PLC'. They are supposed to run it for the good of all shareholders, us. If this happened in the big wide world, and the shareholders were not getting what they expected, the 'board of directors' would be removed.

"He who pays the piper calls the tune"
moon 14-Aug-2009 7:47
Duncan clearly harbours an affection for the discredited ' expenses ' system. He is part of the problem.
Andromeda 13-Aug-2009 10:43
He told the truth and should't be executed just for that. If he is sacked the Tories will just be reacting to headlines.

Nobody now will touch politics with a bargepole. They would rather be pole dancers who will command more money, greater admiration and have more power.

Actually, I don't mind paying MPs more and not treating like them like sh*t if they stop being sh*t and behaving like sh*ts to each other....
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