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Labour in-fighting over Gurkhas [May. 1st, 2009|10:16 am]
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Mixed headlines for Gordon Brown over MPs' expenses this morning. He managed to salvage some credit from the wreckage of his original plan to replace the "second homes" payments for MPs with a daily attendance allowance. His other measures -- on outside jobs, staff and curbs on housing allowances for outer London MPs-- were approved by the Commons. It is true to say that reform would have taken much longer if the PM had not taken the initiative last week.
Although Brown can now move on from the expenses saga, there's a bitter inquest going on into how the Government managed to lose Wednesday's Commons vote on the residence rights of Gurkha veterans. Labour whips seem to be pointing the finger at the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, a convenient fall girl since she is already tipped for a move in a summer reshuffle. Her allies blame the whips for not seeing the defeat coming -- and even allowing Labour MPs to miss the vote to attend a football match. Others blame the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury for not "seeing the politics" of the Gurkhas' issue in the way the Home Office did. Unhappy days for the Government.