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An exclusive ComRes survey for TotalPolitics reveals the astonishingly low regard in which the expenses watchdog is held by MPs - the vast majority think it’s doing a bad job. Illustrations by Alashi
Do you believe that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority does a good or bad job?
When the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) is mentioned to MPs, they react in two diﬀerent ways. One is that
IPSA doesn’t work and should be scrapped. Another is that MPs must accept that the public holds no sympathy whatsoever for complaints following the expenses scandal and IPSA will remain a feature of their working lives whether they like it or not.
Now, TotalPolitics can reveal the true level of dislike for the watchdog. MPs loathe IPSA. The vast
MPs loathe IPSA. The vast majority of MPs, nearly 80 per cent, believe the watchdog is doing a bad job majority of MPs, nearly 80 per cent, believe that IPSA is doing a bad job. Close to half of MPs also believe that IPSA has got worse at auditing expenses since it was created in 2010. The figure is far higher than those who believe it is doing a be er job.
These results show quite what a poor relationship exists between Parliament and the expenses watchdog. There have been complaints about IPSA’s bureaucratic approach that takes up considerable time, the way it handles claims queries and the training given by IPSA for the unique and lengthy claiming process. As this ComRes survey reveals, these issues have led to a serious collapse in confidence from MPs on IPSA’s ability to fulfill its role. ■
u ComRes survey of 152 MPs
Do you believe IPSA is better or worse able to fulfil the role of overseeing, administrating and regulating MPs’ expenses since May 2010?
GOOD JOB Total Con Labour Lib Dem Other 9% 8% 9% 10% 26% BAD JOB Total Con Labour Lib Dem Other 77% 82% 80% 61% 36%
IN DETAIL Total Con Lab Lib Dem Other Very good job 2% 2% 3% - Quite a good job 7% 5% 7% 10% 26% Neither 12% 10% 10% 19% 38% Quite a bad job 36% 35% 38% 43% 5% Very bad job 42% 47% 42% 18% 31%
BETTER Total Con Labour Lib Dem Other 34% 28% 42% 32% 31%
WORSE Total Con Labour Lib Dem Other 48% 52% 44% 46% 44%
Total Con Lab Lib Dem Other
Much better 2% 4% 1% -
Slightly better 32% 24% 41% 32% 31% No change 16% 20% 13% 12% 13% Slightly worse 16% 15% 14% 21% 26% Much worse 32% 37% 30% 25% 18%
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H U n t
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The secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport has one year to go until London 2012 begins. How is a man tipped for the top coping, and what impact did BSkyB have on him? Amber Elliott and Ben Duckworth find out. Photos by Alister Thorpe
You organise an interview with an upwardly mobile cabinet minister tipped for the top. We look for signs that he is going to be able to show he is the man to run the Olympics. Instead, the news that murdered school girl Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked has broken, the NewsoftheWorldwill shortly print its final edition, and there is a big decision to be made on BSkyB. Jeremy Hunt has found himself in the centre of the firestorm.
We are sitting in his departmental office, either side of the man who would get the second-biggest headache in Whitehall (after David Cameron) when News Corporation hit the headlines for a week.
The secretary of state looks grave at the mention of phone hacking. “Some of the things that are alleged to have happened in the Milly Dowler case, if they have happened, are utterly despicable,” he says, keeping his voice low and even. “They made my stomach churn.”
When we first speak to him, Hunt is initially adamant that there is no connection.
The decision that I’m minded to take is one that weakens the Murdochs’ control over Sky News, increases plurality, and puts in protections to ensure that Sky News continues to be impartial. That decision is not the same as the criminal investigation of phone hacking, and it would be wrong to link it
“We can’t link phone hacking and media plurality issues on which the News Corp/BSkyB decision is taken. That’s a decision shared with the Labour Party as well.” That attempt to tie in Labour fails when Ed Miliband goes on the offensive, leaving the government initially playing catch-up.
Hunt retains his quasi-judicial role in the takeover, saying he is unable to provide a running commentary on any bid for BSkyB. This position remains in place because News Corporation may resubmit their takeover proposal after a six-month gap. When we sit down with him, he says: “We’ve got to be very careful not to underestimate the importance of media plurality issues. It is incredibly important to make sure no one person has excessive control over our media. That’s why the decision that I
Total Politics | August 2011 | 39
The 1948 London oLympics Janie Hampton looks back at the political ethos behind London’s post-war Olympiad
When Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the ancient Olympic Games in 1896, he had a vision
that politics and diplomatic differences would be surpassed, that through sport all nations could be friends and all wars averted. Sadly, these ideals did not live long.
During the planning of the 1948 London Olympics, considerable diplomatic and political headaches were caused over the selection of invited nations. Following the precedent set after World War I, Germany and Japan were not invited, even though both countries still had representatives on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), namely His Excellency Duke Adolf Friedrich von Mecklenburg-Schwerin from Germany and Count Michimasa Soyeshima MA (Cantab) from Japan. Neither they nor their countries had officially been expelled because, as the Foreign Office noted, “hitherto they had lain doggo and it was not thought desirable to raise the question, which might cause unnecessary bother”.
was told firmly that visas were unavailable.
British athletes felt no personal animosity towards their former enemies. In August 1947 they had competed against German athletes in Cologne and noticed that they were so malnourished, they could hardly run. German prisoner-of-war Helmut Bantz had been world gymnastics champion before the war, and had kept fit working on farms near Leicester. The British Olympic gymnastic team invited him to be their secret coach. “I was the only German to take part in the 1948 Olympics,” he said proudly.
The IOC did not understand either political nuances or national feelings. The Swedish president of the IOC, Sigfrid Edström, elected vice-president in 1942 because of his ‘neutrality’, thought that both Japan and Germany should attend, and took the British organisers’ refusal to invite them as a personal affront. He wrote to Lord Burghley, the chairman of the British organising committee, “I am surprised that you take this attitude three years after the war ended. We
The organisers prayed they
The swedish ioc president took Britain’s refusal to invite Japan and Germany as a personal affront: ‘We men of sport ought to show the way for diplomats’
would not try to come, but, only weeks before the event, Japan announced its intention to send a team. Japan was still technically an enemy and its athletes could not have attended any function where the King was present. British diplomats warned that their presence would cause “serious public resentment”. To save face, the Japanese Olympic organisers were reminded that, under the Occupation by Allied Powers, no Japanese subjects could leave the country.
men of sport ought to show the way for the diplomats.”
Some countries had simply disappeared since the last Olympiad in 1936. While Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia had competed at all the Olympics between 1920 and 1936, and won several medals, by 1940 they had been annexed by the Soviet Union. There had been a small Russian entry in 1912, but none since the October Revolution of 1917. Stalin believed that sport was too individualistic and not communist enough. The Soviet magazine Ogonyok stated that the Olympics was an imperialist plot of the US: “The Americans are prepared to bear the cost of the London Olympics”, wrote Sevidzh in TheRoleof SpaminSport in 1947, “and guarantee food and sports equipment to ensure that sportsmen are from ‘politically reliable’ countries. There is no doubt that the Olympic emblem will adorn not only belt clasps and ties, but also tins containing American spam, in the guise of American pseudo-philanthropy.”
Germany, in the throes of being divided between East and West, did not try to compete, although the German IOC representative Dr Karl Ritter von Halt attempted to attend the Olympics as a Briton, because he lived in British-occupied West Germany. He
In theory, any nation with an operating Olympic committee was entitled to enter the Games. But the USSR had never formed one, and once the Soviet Union blocked the roads and railways to Berlin, Britain had no intention of encouraging its participation. Despite this, the Soviet Embassy in London bought tickets for every event. They must have liked what they saw, because by 1952 the Soviets had trained a huge team to compete in the next Olympics in Helsinki.
Many members of the IOC had vanished between 1939 and 1946, but not all. Churchill believed that the Olympics was a form of diplomacy, and was concerned about the suitability of pre-1939 members of the IOC to represent their countries. Just before he lost the election in 1945, he telegraphed British embassies in Europe for their opinions. Classified for 50 years, government files now reveal that the Egyptian delegate was considered “a very bad man who should be dropped”. The Polish delegate was “not suitable. He is a rabid extremist and anti-communist”. Marquis Melchior de Polignac of France was “definitely not suitable, he and his wife have been imprisoned for collaboration”. The Belgian and Norwegian men were also known collaborators. General Giorgio Vaccaro of Italy had supported the Fascists, General Djoukitch of Yugoslavia was “certainly non grata” and, regarding one Dutch delegate, the Foreign Office “would be astonished if Colonel Scharroo was ever allowed to take any role again”. The other IOC member from the Netherlands, Lt Colonel Charles Pahud de Mortanges, who, as an equestrian, had won Olympic medals in 1928 and 1932, was acceptable – he had joined the Free Dutch army, was captured by the Nazis and escaped in 1942.
But the IOC was not interested in Churchill’s findings. Apart from Stephan Tchaprachiken of Bulgaria, who had committed suicide, these men not only came to London as IOC delegates, but some were also brought onto the executive committee. Among them was Avery Brundage, now the vice-chairman of the IOC. Brundage was a property developer from Chicago who was so determined to keep politics out of sport that he had supported the 1936 Berlin Olympics, having been shown personally by Hitler how well treated German Jews were under the Nazis. Even after the Nuremberg trials, Brundage sent food parcels to imprisoned Nazis. He lobbied hard for the 1948 Olympics to be in Los Angeles. Lord Aberdare, one of the British members of the IOC, was furious, and pointed out that back in 1938 the IOC had offered the Games to London, which was duly reselected before the Second World War had even ended.
Italy, a British ally before the end of the
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T o pi c al
P r e s s
A g e n c y
1948 The torch bearer arrives at Wembley Stadium
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Regulars Letters 4 Diary 6 From Rio to hacking, The Times’ chief political correspondent Anushka Asthana had a hectic month Polling 8 Immigration: Andrew Hawkins of ComRes says the issue is not necessarily clear-cut Blogger writes 9 Dizzy Thinks on U-turns The idea 10 Historian Jon Wilson thinks the state needs to relate to local society Data 11 The political events of the month Debate 12 Do the benefits of HS2 outweigh the costs? Tory MPs Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom disagree Point of order 13 Stephen Lloyd MP on religious education Events 14 Ministerial profile 16 Sarah Teather MP MP of the month 18 Malcolm Wicks MP
Total Campaigns A helping hand 20 A defence of the muchmaligned political consultant George Pascoe-Watson on... 21 The 2010 Tories noticed by No 10 Campaign doctor 22 Push the right buttons 23 Melanie Batley says it’s about time our democracy caught up with the 21st century
FeaturesIPSAsurvey24 Our poll reveals how much MPs dislike the expenses watchdog Religion and politics 26 What role does religion play in the politics of an increasingly secular nation? The future African dawn 30 International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell on how his department is hoping to nurture the private sector promise of a continent In conversation with Harriet Harman 32 Iain Dale speaks with the shadow development secretary about equality, opposition and why she’s Andrew Mitchell’s “best friend in Parliament” Cover story Jeremy Hunt 38 With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching and the BSkyB takeover, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has a lot on his plate. We grill him on it all Tanni Grey-Thompson 45 The Paralympics champion chats to us about preparations for the 2012 games and adjusting to life as a working peer special section
Total History The 1948 London Olympics 54 Janie Hampton looks back on the last time Britain hosted the Olympics Games Where are they now? 56 Tony McWalter The history of one object 57 Articles of Union between England and Scotland (July 1706) Memorabilia 57 Lord Astor of Hever They were also MPs 58 James Thomas Brudenell
Total Life Book reviews 60 Keith Simpson MP’s essential Afghanistan reads Brought to book 61 Iain Wright MP My old book 61 Guto Bebb MP Sports round-up 62 Researchers’ stories 63 Hinterland 64 Susan Elan Jones MP on classical music Top 10 politicians’ holiday destinations 65 Lunch with... 66 Nick De Bois MP
Open for business? 46 We partnered with Ernst & Young and a panel of leading figures to discuss how the UK can be attractive to foreign investors. Includes commentary and insight from Treasury commercial secretary Lord Sassoon and shadow business secretary John Denham
Total Politics | August 2011 | 3