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Untenable but unsackable

What on Earth does it take to get sacked from the Con-Dem Cabinet?

What on Earth does it take to get sacked from the Con-Dem Cabinet? As Maria Miller continues to redefine "brazen" on a daily basis she is perhaps clinging to one thought above all else.

If Vince Cable doesn't lose his job for robbing taxpayers of £1.4 billion and handing it straight to his friends in the City, why should she fall on her sword for the sake of a mere £45,000 or so?

Miller's position is obviously untenable and it will be a major surprise if she is still in her job by the time this newspaper hits breakfast tables - although that has been true every day since the scandal broke and yet here she still is.

But there is an undeniable glee in seeing her continue to drag the Tories' reputation further and further into the gutter by the day.

She has even persuaded Conservative leader-in-waiting Boris Johnson to back her publicly - doing some very welcome damage to the dead-eyed dogmatis's prospects of ever becoming prime minister himself.

So yes, by all rights she should quit immediately, in the name of whatever tiny scraps of decency, principle and integrity she or her party still possess, and as a first step towards sweeping reform of MPs' conduct.

But it's sorely tempting to say: "Yes, Ms Miller, resign, but take your time about it."

Because every day that passes with her still in the Cabinet is a day that shows the Con-Dems for what they really are - a pack of robbers out to take the working people of this country for every penny they can grab.


Region boost

Two half-hearted cheers for Ed Miliband's much-hyped plan to address the gaping wealth gap between London and the rest of Britain.

It's refreshing that the Labour leader is even talking about the subject after the Blairites "intensely relaxed" attitude towards the robber barons of the City.

And any move to restore influence to the regions is welcome after decades of attacks, kicked off by Margaret Thatcher, on local government powers and budgets.

But given that the plan's architect Lord Adonis is a die-hard Blairite and worshipper of the private sector, the detail of the scheme needs rigorous scrutiny.

There are welcome signs that the regions could finally get integrated, well-funded public transport of the sort London has long enjoyed - a major driving force behind the city's boom.

But too much remains unclear. Does investment in housing infrastructure mean decent council homes for all who need them, or a Help to Buy-style public handout for the already wealthy?

There's an alarming lack of recognition of the vital importance of decent public-sector jobs in boosting cities' prospects.

And the prominent mention of devolving the hated Work Programme raises the fear that the aim is to ladle as much as possible of that £20 billion into privateers' pockets.

Most damningly of all there's no mention of why the so-called "productivity gap" exists - because the rest of Britain has been systematically asset-stripped to inflate London's bubble.

Talk of handing power to the regions is just talk unless it goes hand in hand with stripping power from the bankers who have been given free rein for far
too long.


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