No. They would have sat on their hands feigning indifference, hence why their Trump-like hijacking of this case of impropriety – one of the most serious instances of ‘cash for access’ ever to come to light at Westminster – is both hypocritical and erroneous on three counts.
First, Mr Paterson, a former Cabinet Minister, is fortunate that the independent Standards Committee only recommended a six-week ban after he repeatedly lobbied Ministers and officials for two firms paying him over £100,000 a year – in many respects, a far more serious sanction would have been in order.
Second, any concerns about MPs – and the extent of their right of appeal – should have been addressed long before this shocking case came to light. Even though the law cannot be applied retrospectively, this is what Tories want to happen to avoid a by-election under ‘recall’ laws.
Finally, it should be for Mr Paterson’s North Shropshire constituents to determine if they still have sufficient confidence in him – or whether he has suffered enough following the sudden death of his wife Rose in tragic circumstances last year as details of the case emerged.
It is a contempt of democracy that Tory MPs have now chosen to over-rule Parliament’s Standards Committee and rewrite these rules on grounds of political partisanship. And while Mr Paterson has the sympathy of all over his family loss, the upholding of the Nolan principles on conduct must always take precedence if politics is not to be further sullied by sleaze – never mind the industrial-scale lobbying that was proven by Parliament’s arbiters.
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