Maria Miller: trial of strength as Norman Tebbit wades into row

As Thatcherites vent their feelings, new polls show Cameron has lost the 'Budget bounce'

Column LAST UPDATED AT 10:48 ON Mon 7 Apr 2014

THE growing demands for the resignation of Culture Secretary Maria Miller are no longer just to do with her false expenses claim and the shame it has brought on Parliament. It's now a trial of strength between the right wing of the Tory party and David Cameron over his and Miller's 'liberal' politics.

Lord (Norman) Tebbit, the former Conservative Party chairman who still carries the torch for Margaret Thatcher, is the latest senior Tory to demand that Cameron sacks her.

He didn't say it, but it is well known that Tebbit and others on the right see Miller as a symbol of everything they dislike about Cameron and his insistence on modernising the party.

She was in charge of the government's gay marriage legislation which they vehemently oppose, and it has been her responsibility to push through press reform post-Leveson, which they see as unwelcome state intervention.

On the latter issue, they have the right-wing press very much on side. 

Tebbit used his Daily Telegraph blog to demand Miller's resignation while the Daily Mail today carries a double-page spread on the "dream" £1.2 million converted barn she has bought with the proceeds of the £1.4 million sale of what she claimed was her second home in Wimbledon, south London. (She listed her primary residence as a rented home in her Hampshire constituency.)

Miller was criticised by Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, for failing to cooperate fully with her investigation into Miller's expenses claims on the Wimbledon house.

Hudson recommended she repay £45,000 of the £90,000 allowance to cover mortgage interest but MPs on the Commons Standards Committee vetoed her recommendation and requested Miller pay back only £4,500.

Fellow Tory Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith claimed on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday that the attacks on Miller amount to a "witch hunt".

The Daily Mirror scoffs at this, saying: "The barrel-scraping Tories came up with another pathetic excuse yesterday for expenses scandal minister Maria Miller – she is being attacked by homophobes."

Whatever you call it, the right wing is on the rampage and Cameron is refusing to bow to the demands to sack Miller because he knows it will weaken his position.

How long the Prime Minister can afford to stick by his Culture Secretary is a moot point. Some 78 per cent of respondents in a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday said she should lose her Cabinet seat.

And that's not the only miserable polling Cameron and his team are having to mull over this morning: new opinion polls show the so-called 'Budget bounce' has entirely disappeared. 

A fortnight ago, both YouGov and Survation showed Labour were down to a one-point lead over the Tories in the wake of George Osborne's Budget boost for savers and pensioners.

Now YouGov has Labour back with a five-point lead (and the Lib Dems struggling on nine, behind Ukip on 12) while Survation [7]has Labour ahead by an even bigger margin of seven points.

Ed Miliband will keep banging on about the Tory Cabinet being a out of touch with the cost of living crisis of ordinary people. And now he can point to that double-page spread in the Mail - of all papers - to support his argument. · 

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...Both Cameron and Miller are completely out of touch with the current, widespread, antipathy towards all things political. Cameron promised (yawn - yes, another Cameron "promise") when he came to office that he would "clean up politics" - he expressed abhorrence towards the MPs' expenses scandal - he promised more "open government".

Well so much for that then. Not only does he refuse to accept the fact that Miller has been both mendacious and arrogant, he actually ENDORSES her and, by so doing, condones her disgusting snout - in - trough behaviour.

High time that we had a truly INDEPENDENT expenses auditor, with real bite - currently Parliament is free to ignore, or over - rule, any decisions on expenses that it might find inconvenient. That MUST change!

Snouts in the Trough and so much more! "I will clean up politics" said Cameron according to Sellers C. Oh very good indeed. At last an indirect condemnation from CS of the non-elected royal politicians who are forever with THEIR snouts in the Treasury trough. Clean up politics Mr Cameron YES, oh YES!! Go on, unblock the veto put on Prince Charles political self serving lobbying letters by your government, even though three judges agreed that in the public interest these letters must be released. Yes, release these POLITICAL lobbying letters in to the public domain, come on Mr Cameron, be democratic have courage, and never mind about any future silly "Empire" gongs and the revolting, demeaning and required kow-towing before hereditary privilege. Yes! "clean up politics indeed". Moreover, the veto, does raise the question whether there are a number of later royal lobbying letters that need addressing. Ho hum!

Cameron's now saying he open to changing the Standards Committee .....
Door, horse, barn, bolted, shut.
He's not a Leader. He's an utterly useless PR "professional" who obviously can't see a PR disaster-in-the-making when it's built like a brick outhouse and is right in front of his nose.
Ms Miller misappropriated public funds. We are not obliged to provide her parents with accommodation. She should be sacked from the Cabinet and be required to repay the full £45,000.
Then .... as we still don't have the right of Recall which Cameron promised in his Manifesto .... we have to hope the good people of Basingstoke vote to kick her out in 2015, in favour of UKIP.

Hi,
Maria Miller: trial of strength as Norman Tebbit wades into row. It’s difficult to understand Mr. Cameron in his support for Mrs. Miler he has lost against the public opinion of a nation that will not regained by shopping in Astra. He aligns with the Hunt’s, Millers, Green’s to the cost of his party. His “Bourbon restoration” will not work. Mr. Cameron has much charisma that should stay away from fools and crooks in his own interest and that of the nation.

Its quite easy really....apply the same standards as would be applied to us proles: If I stole from my employer, I would be sacked and chased through the courts for compensation and retribution. That is how it should be. If Cameron cannot see that, he is stupid. If he will not see it, she has something over him. Either way, she should go, for dishonest dealing, and he should also go, as an in competent manager (He will never be a "leader")

Why bother with MPs they are all lying scum,civil servants run the country,MPs just enjoy the gravy train and now Cameron isn't just a clown,he is a lying clown.

Lena - you should go and lie down for a while in a darkened room. If you had followed the gist of my "contributions", over the years, on this site, you will have taken on board my utter contempt for this current bunch of "boy blunders", of all parties, at Westminster - their domestic and foreign policies are straight out of the sixth - form debating society.

You indulge yourself in a fantastic leap of logic when you associate my condemnation of Miller, Cameron et al with any support Prince Charles and his penchant of winging off letters and missives to politicians.

My own views on that subject are that if he chooses to write to politicians, lobbying their views and attempting to persuade them to his point of view, it is entirely open to him to do so - after all, we have "lobbying groups" at Westminster, behaving like parasites on behalf of many and varied interested parties so, in that respect, Prince Charles is entirely entitled to engage in that practice also - although, when he does so he should NOT seek to hide behind some royal privilege (if, indeed, he does so) - after all, that sort of quasi anonymity is denied to the rest of us - so, the principle of "publish and be damned" might just be apposite to Prince Charles' circumstances.

Where I (horror of horrors!) might agree with you is with the fact that his lobbying activities seem to be beyond and outside public scrutiny - why should we NOT be entitled to know what he thinks and, more to the point, what influence he might wield by his lobbying?

Perhaps Prince Charles, himself, should take the initiative and ask that his letters be published - I think that he should in order to dispel the conspiracy theories out there. Cameron clearly doesn't have the guts or the leadership qualities to persuade him to do so, it seems.

Spot on Lady M! Cameron could NEVER be a leader - he has no "fire in his belly" and he is far too cavalier when it comes to making and breaking "pledges". Whenever I read or hear another of his "pledges" I automatically try to read the small print, the caveats and the fudged issues - words such as "might", perhaps", "should" "clearly", "the right thing to do" I have an irresistible urge to shout at the cat!

For Miller to qualify her "apology" at the outset, in Parliament, was the height of out - of - touch arrogance with which this political class has become associated.