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Another fine Eton mess

Maria Miller's belated "resignation" has put the top hat on David Cameron's embarrassing week, giving an entirely new meaning to his old school's famous Eton Mess.

Maria Miller's belated "resignation" has put the top hat on David Cameron's embarrassing week, giving an entirely new meaning to his old school's famous Eton Mess.

Despite the best efforts of the Prime Minister's cronies to sustain the career of a full quarter of the women MPs deemed fit to sit alongside his Old Etonian chums in Cabinet, Miller has gone.

Cameron's refusal to give a straight answer to Labour back-bench questions over who told her to resign provides eloquent confirmation that it was not her idea.

The PM has effectively been bounced into taking a decision that he should have taken earlier and for
different reasons.

Miller should have been sacked because she claimed allowances to which she was not entitled, she refused to co-operate with Standards Commissioner Kathryn Hudson's inquiry, her office tried to bully the media against investigating the matter and, to cap it all,
her perfunctory non-apology on the floor of the House was a calculated contemptuous snub to the commissioner.

Had Cameron not been consumed by that born-to-rule arrogance of his class, he might have suggested a different line.

He or his butler could have advised Miller to accept the commissioner's findings with a measure of humility and deliver an apology to Parliament with all the sincerity she could fake.

Either she wasn't advised to take this course or she spurned it, relying on prime ministerial backing to see the issue through.

Unfortunately for her, the electorate, including a majority of Tories, had seen through not only the issue but her too.

Years after the original expenses scandal hit Parliament, reducing the stock of most MPs to junk status, here was another wealthy member milking the system to her own benefit and refusing to put her hand up once caught bang to rights.

Miller has lost her job, but Cameron has lost a lot more, showing once again that his personal judgement is threadbare.

He has, despite reducing the number of women in his Cabinet from four to three, sought to make the best of things by promoting former banker Sajid Javid in Miller's stead.

A loss for Tory women, but a gain for Britain's Muslims and from a working-class background - son of a Bristol bus driver - as well, Cameron's spin doctors whisper.

Curiously, Miller too tried to play the humble background card, pointing out that she was a "working mother educated at a south Wales comprehensive school."

All very homely and heart-warming, but the reality is that both Miller and Javid are utterly committed to the government's austerity agenda, putting the boot into the working class they are glad to have left behind.

Parliamentary representatives' class origins are not the be-all and end-all of everything.

As upper-crust lawyer and Labour MP DN Pritt, who was expelled from the party for supporting the 1939-40 Soviet war against Finland, told his working-class colleague Ernest Bevin, they were united by betrayal of the class into which they were born.

The ruling class has always been adept at co-opting individuals from the lower orders to do its bidding.

The working class has been less successful at controlling those it sends to Parliament.

Such failure could be countered by the proposal
for a popular vote to recall dodgy MPs, which was agreed in 2010 by the coalition parties but never

Can anyone hazard a guess why this might be?


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