Sunday, May 22, 2011

Driving Miss Pricey?

In an extraordinary development in the Chris Huhne/Vicky Pryce divorce wrangle over whether Huhne got Pryce, his then wife, to accept his penalty points for a speeding offence, I read in The Sunday Times (£) that Huhne is to admit to police that "he can’t say he definitely wasn’t driving. He doesn’t remember what he did that day. He hasn’t got a diary about whether he drove or not".

This is fair enough. The driving offence occurred back in 2003. But presumably, police have a record of penalty points being issued on his car. Points which were then accepted by his wife. If this is the case then Huhne (who continues to deny he got his wife to illegally accept his points) must have discussed the penalty with his wife, agreed she was driving and completed the relevant forms to reallocate it. This process would have been somewhat more memorable.

Considering the one undeniable fact is that his car was caught speeding that night, if he was confident he was in the right surely it follows, as revenge follows adultery, that he would not have asked his wife to accept the points had he been driving that day. To now admit to not being sure whether he was driving is to admit that he may indeed have asked his wife to accept his points illegally. A significant weakening of his confident denials in the past few days.

The same Sunday Times report also highlights how Huhne's supporters are reduced to attempting to convince Pryce to withdraw her allegation because "If what she wanted was to ruin him, or really ruin him, it’s job done now. It’s time for her to save herself now," and how one of his own children (who was privy to the arrangement) could testify against him. This all paints a picture of a man who inspires distrust and disloyalty in those he goes into partnership with. It shouldn't be a surprise given his antics during the AV referendum campaign when he thought nothing of accusing his coalition partners of being liars and Nazi style propagandists when he could see the thing he wanted slipping out of his reach. After that there can be little trust in him from his Tory coalition partners. And after this affair it seems trust is ebbing away from even his Lib Dem colleagues.

If I were David Cameron I would be preparing to jettison the minister as doubts about his conduct continue to grow and his support begins to collapse. Getting rid of a member of your Coalition partner's party from a Cabinet position is not as straight forward as sacking one of your own of course. But Cameron needs to put his foot down with Clegg and agree an exit strategy for the beleaguered Energy Secretary.

If proven, it may seem a harsh price to pay for what many people might consider to be a minor transgression (albeit a criminal one); a transgression many others may have committed themselves when their driving licences were at risk following a driving offence. But a) it IS a criminal offence and as a cabinet minister it is unacceptable b) his confident denials and assurances to Clegg and Cameron will show him up as being untrustworthy and a liability to the government.


On top of the above. It's been alleged that another female confidante of Huhne also took points for him (Telegraph).

Two former Lib Dem councillors have lodged a complaint with the Electoral Commission regarding Huhne's general election expenses saying that he made a "false declaration". (BBC News)

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