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Conservatives nurse a hangover post partygate and Craig Mackinlay describes the cost-of-living crisis rescue package as tripe

With the Conservative Party nursing a collective hangover from the partygate saga, what better way to lift the spirits of MPs could there be than to go on a £15bn spending spree?

Well, that was the theory. But the Chancellor’s decision to max out on the Treasury’s credit card to pay for a cost-of-living rescue package didn’t prove universally popular with all MPs - including some Conservatives.

Rishi Sunak announces the measures

There was more than mild irritation at the fact that the Conservative government was doing a high-speed u-turn that might have impressed boy racers burning up the tarmac at a car park on a Friday night.

It wasn’t just the fact that the government was following in the footsteps of Labour by introducing a windfall tax - clumsily rebranded as “the temporary, targeted energy profits levy” - though that was bad enough.

It was the fact that the Conservatives were embarking on a spending spree that was anathema to the party’s core fiscal values of only spending what can you afford.

The hawkish MP for South Thanet Craig Mackinlay did not mince his words, saying “I’m disappointed, embarrassed and appalled that a Conservative Chancellor could come up with this tripe.” With friends like this…

The irony is that the Chancellor found he had a more friendly response on the opposition benches than on his own.

Craig Mackinlay - UK Parliament official portraits 2017. (56952043)
Craig Mackinlay - UK Parliament official portraits 2017. (56952043)

He tried to sugar the pill a little but the line had been crossed: rather like when the Liberal Democrats dropped their opposition to student fees, the Chancellor will be reminded constantly of his u-turn.

Labour duly put the boot in, as you would expect, with the Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves admonishing the government with a series of soundbites, accusing the Chancellor of announcing a “policy but he can’t dare say the words. It’s a policy that dare not speak its name.”

But the truth is Labour could have chosen to stay silent as disgruntled Conservative backbenchers vented over the mini budget package.

The Chancellor sought refuge from the verbal hand grenades coming at him from all directions by saying that it was a strength rather than a weakness to admit when things could have been done differently.

No-one really believed that especially given the timing of his announcement just a day after the publication of a highly critical report into the partygate saga.

KCC headquarters (56949533)
KCC headquarters (56949533)

KENT County Council is to have a new chief executive and we know who it will be already as there is not going to be an open recruitment process.

The job is going to be done by the current head of paid service, David Cockburn under a shake-up of the way the council is run.

KCC’s Conservative administration says the reorganisation of the senior executive team is needed now to help lead the council through a potentially challenging period.

There has not been been a chief executive for a decade after the role was scrapped by the former Conservative leader Paul Carter. The decision then was justified on cost-cutting grounds although that was rather undermined when it emerged that the last occupant of the job, Katherine Kerswell, received £420,000 in redundancy.

There has been some mild criticism over the decision not to have an open recruitment process, with the opposition Labour group and the Green party arguing it would have been better to trawl the pool of executive talent to see who else might fit the job.

Labour group leader Dr Lauren Sullivan said that there should have been an open process. Describing it as “a hugely significant and new role” KCC ought to have been prepared to see what other talent was out there.

"For supposedly talented political operators, the failure to see how this would play out in the wider world was shocking..."

THE lurid details of the antics at a string of 'social gatherings' at Downing Street were laid bare in Sue Gray's damning report this week.

A fight, someone vomiting and red wine spilled while grown adults played on a child's slide: it all had the hallmarks of a party thrown by a teenager whose parents had gone away.

It was hardly a surprise to learn the bulk of the events or social gatherings that the report examined transgressed the rules that had taken shape in the very office where staff binged on beer and gin and partied until the small hours.

For supposedly talented political operators, the failure to see how this would play out in the wider world was shocking. The sense that they saw themselves as invincible must have been strong. If not wildly over-exagerated.

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