- More than 2 weeks into the Telegraph's expenses scandal, and I'm still riveted by it. I can understand that many people will be bored stiff by the whole thing, but it may still be that some of the best is yet to come.
For example, Tory MP Anthony Steen spectacularly misjudged the public mood by saying that the only reason people were angry was because they were jealous of his big house, and that Freedom of Information legislation had been a Very Bad Thing because it had fed public envy. He seemed to have conveniently forgotten that these bastard taxpayers were paying for his goddamn trees to be maintained. Pay the piper, call the tune.
Sir Peter Viggers (why are they giving honours to wankers like this)'s floating duck island was also a rare moment of high comedy. Well done mate.
But it's not clear yet to what extent Expensesgate will manifest itself in changes to voting intentions. The latest ICM survey in the Guardian compares European election voting intentions with the results in 2004. Some noteworthy findings are:
- Labour on 24%, 1% above its 2004 polling.
- Greens at 9%, up from 6% in 2004.
- UKIP on 10%, down from 16% in 2004. If these figures are right, reports of a big swing to UKIP are simply wrong.
- BNP on 1%, down from 4% in 2004.
These poll results don't indicate a seismic shift in voting intentions though, especially bearing in mind that the Euro elections are much more likely to attract a protest vote than a Westminster election. If the Tories and Labour were both down below 20% then we would begin to see some interesting gains for minor parties, even under first-past-the-post. But, unless there is a wave of independent Martin Bell-type challengers (certainly possible), the expenses scandal is not on course to upset the Westminster applecart - yet. For that to happen, public outrage has to translate to much bigger shifts in voting intentions.