Coffee House

Maria Miller, a political zombie

5 April 2014

11:20 AM

5 April 2014

11:20 AM

Talking to Tory ministers in the last 24 hours, one of the things I’ve been struck by is the level of irritation with Maria Miller’s graceless apology. It is easy to see why this is the case. If Miller had been more contrite in the Commons on Thursday, the story would not be running as strongly today.

Miller could easily have talked about how the old system under which she had been claiming was not fit for purpose and pointed out that it is no longer in operation. She also could have explained in human terms why she had been so slow to cooperate with the inquiry. If she had done those things, she would have helped herself.

But, instead, Miller finds herself a political zombie. It is now nigh-on-impossible to imagine her rising further than Culture Secretary. Paul Goodman is also surely right when he says that Miller’s Cabinet career has, at most, 13 months to run.

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Show comments
  • ArchiePonsonby

    Miller obviously has certain photographs of Cameron. How else to explain this farrago?

  • Modesto

    Thirteen months? – 13 hours would be a disgrace

  • paulus

    he needs to cautorise it , she is toxic , the entire conservative party will be tarred with the same brush. Just throw her under a bus , for christ sake and get rid of her. Shes pointless any way, women dont even identify with her.

  • sussexsimon

    Why are MP’s allowed to let each other off the hook, Miller should repay the full £45k that was demanded, not the fraction that her parliamentary colleagues gifted her, and given her lack of contriteness should be sacked, any other employee would be on a final warning or sacked but MP’s live by their own rules.

  • Shorne

    In my view one of the wisest Englishmen whoever lived, although he is perhaps not as well known as he should be, was the Reverend Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845). This is another occasion when I remember one of his comments;
    “Suspect all governments for it is the constant tendency of those entrusted with power to conceive that they enjoy it through their own merits and for their own use and not, by delegation, for the benefit of others”.

  • AnotherDave

    “Paul Goodman is also surely right when he says that Miller’s Cabinet career has, at most, 13 months to run.”


    Clearly. Labour MPs are going to form the next government.

    • Kitty MLB

      I wouldn’t take that much notice of his weasel words if I were you.
      And there is No way those traitors who ravaged this country will ever be
      allowed to govern again. If Miliband became PM, utterly ridiculous, and
      by default. The same way he became leader, then we should all leave the country. As said before only UKIP will benefit..we do remember what
      Labour got up to you know.

  • Jesus Actionfigure

    “If Miller had been more contrite”

    Seriously? If this crook had worded things differently, it would all be OK? That, right there, is what’s wrong with our politicians (and their hangers-on in the press).

  • MikeF

    She should be sacked. Any criticism of that move from the Labour benches could be silenced with just two words – Jacqui Smith.

  • MaxSceptic

    Cameron and the Tories will suffer greatly from his inability to act decisively and sack an arrogant, leeching liability.

    Farage will make hay.

  • SilentHunter

    She shouldn’t be “rising” anywhere . . . she should be “disappearing without trace”.

    And preferably without her taxpayer funded pension intact.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    Cameron’s tribal response is more than a grave error, it is very foolish, He is now stuck with having to defend the shameless woman. Miliband’s equally tribal attacks are just as foolish for he leaves Dive with no room for manoeuvre.

    • Mynydd

      Why should Mr Miliband give Mr Cameron room to manoeuvre? Mr Miliband being leader of the opposition is charged with holding Mr Cameron’s government to account. When the investigation into Mrs Miller’s affairs was announced Mr Cameron should have ordered her to step aside until the investigation was concluded. This is what a good experienced business man-manager would have done, take garden leave

      • Kitty MLB

        You make a point about the fact that Maria Miller should resign
        and she is wrong not to do that so therefore Cameron should sack her.
        But come on Milipede could not hold a jelly to account and considering
        Labours 13 years of duplicity the have no right to be the Queens opposition.

        • 2trueblue

          Absolutely, Liebore have no right to judge in this instance. They presided over the most corrupt parliament in our time and failed to clean it up. The duck house and the moat cleaning that took the flack because it sounded good, but in the round was small beer to J Smiths 5 yrs charging us for a room in her sisters house. Add to that the house flippers, Balls/Cooper and others. The whole murky lot should have been turned out and the stable cleaned out. But no one had the courage to get it done, so we live with a bit here and there and frankly who can throw throw the first stone?

          • Kitty MLB

            Yes indeed, and we have hypocritical lefties here who
            believe this will place them back into No 10. Their arrogance
            is outstanding. And we have Milibland – that blank piece
            of paper in Brown’s recycled notebook, with that lunatic
            Balls dictating notes assuming we will not notice and would
            have forgotten that malignant parties many wrong doings.

  • dado_trunking

    A cabinet reshuffle after the EU elections appears ever more imminent.
    Most people would have forgotten by then what went on.

  • Kitty MLB

    Maria Millar is incompetent arrogant and not even not even very
    good at her job and unlike some ministers such as Michael Gove
    Who is outstanding Millar is a prime example of Camerons
    muddled wrong choices and his inability to let such ministers
    go and yet when others needed support he failed.
    I cannot understand how someone can wander from one
    mistake to another. He should sack her and be not only
    grateful for the likes of Michael Gove. But also for the
    fact that the opposition are unelectable . As the press
    said this morning this is an example of what Nigel Farage meant when he mentioned the behaviour of politicians
    in their arrrogant

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Can’t the police do us a favour and fit her up a la Mitchell?

    • Alexsandr

      they should not have to fit her up. The commons authorities will have evidence to start an enquiry I would have thought.

      • ButcombeMan

        They do, but a criminal investigation may have been compromised by the way she was dealt with

  • HookesLaw

    Yawn. What a pathetic apology for an objective reporter you are Mr Forsyth. What a sad miserable crumbling edifice is The Spectator.

    • Lady Magdalene

      On the contrary. The MSM are AT LAST starting to hold the Government and Opposition to account, instead of acting as sycophantic lap-dogs.
      Long may it last.

    • Alexsandr

      how on earth can any one find this dreadful woman acceptable in high office?

      • Gareth

        It’s quite simple: Tory = good, Labour = bad. No need to think about the specific policy or action at all. Isn’t that right, HookesLaw?

      • SilentHunter

        There will always be the supporters & the hangers-on attracted to the corrupt.
        Sad little individuals who hope for crumbs from the masters table.

  • Hello

    “It is now nigh-on-impossible to imagine her rising further than Culture Secretary”

    This is a really odd line. Who is it for? Maria Miller, the press, or the backbenchers?

    • Michael Schachter

      In other European countries culture ministers usually know something about culture. That she has never been accused of.

  • sarah_13

    It has nothing to do with her apology. An apology doesn’t make it go away. An apology and then a resignation is what is needed. Cameron again has shown how late he is acting to deal with difficult situations. This story about Miller’s special adviser was in the papers last year, the story is nothing new, yet he has waited until the recording is on the website of the telegraph. The whole thing is a disgrace, Cameron again doesn’t have his finger on events in parliament, he has allowed Miller who is incompetent first and foremost and covers her incompetence with arrogance. She should have been removed from her job along time a go, but instead Cameron has backed her just because she is a woman. He could have dealt with this problem months ago, and this would not be news, instead he didn’t nip it in the bud and once again he has gifted labour a story. This is what happens when you don’t deal with problems early on.

    • 2trueblue

      Personally I agree with you about MM but if the MPs had cleaned up the expenses mess when the facts came out then, it would have been cleaned up and we would not be discussing expenses now.

      • sarah_13

        Yes I think you are right although I think this expenses matter is still related to the original expenses mess, it just hasn’t been resolved. (correct me if I’m wrong of course) I suspect Ms Miller has pushed her luck, she should have done what the likes of Hazel Blears did and Danny Alexander, albeit their’s was non payment of capital gains, she should have just paid back the large amount back and apologised quietly. It appears to me by stalling and being obstructive she has only achieved exposing her innate arrogance, incompetence and wrong doing but is now more likely to be investigated by the police. My view of her as a foolish woman out of her depth has been reinforced.

        • 2trueblue

          It is incredible that the MPs simply still do not get it. They “flipped” their houses as many as 5 times, changed which was their principal home etc. Frankly if this happened in any other business they would have been fired.
          The trouble is that MPs do not see that they are employees and that we are the employers. The committees who look into the issues should not be appointed by them.

          In the main peoples expenses are sorted out by the individual and the company and the individual gets on with it. It is obviously flawed and not fit for purpose.

  • MirthaTidville

    She should remember wise old political saying….when you become the story its time to go…ta ta Maria

  • ButcombeMan

    This whole affair has damaged Cameron, who consistently makes appalling political judgements, damaged the Conservatives and damaged the government of which (for the moment) Maria Miller remains a part.

    A better apology would have been wise but it would not have saved her. She is finished as a politician.

    The Basingstoke party would be wise to deselect her.

    • telemachus

      Roll on next May

      • Kitty MLB

        I don’t think so, if anyone will benefit it will be UKIP.
        People are not going to suddenly forget what your lot got
        up to as well as wrecking the important issue I should
        imagine…silly Telemachus…. Look behind you..there is UKIP.

  • Bluesman_1

    “Maria Miller, a political zombie”

    should be

    “Maria Miller, an unrepentant thief”

    • GnosticBrian

      Is that you Sally? Not learned your lesson from last time? If you are going to call some one a thief, you need EVIDENCE to prove the allegation OR very deep pockets to pay the libel damages.

      • Alexsandr

        she overclaimed on her expenses. That could well be fraud, and should be examined by the police. And fraud is theft by paperwork rather than with a baseball bat.
        I am struggling to know why she hasnt been arrested. And why the commons authorities havent sent all the evidence to the police.

        • GnosticBrian

          Perhaps you would struggle less if you could identify evidence of a deliberate attempt to obtain money to which she was not entitled rather than mere “mistake / misunderstanding” – bearing in mind that a prosecutor has to satisfy a Court beyond ALL reasonable doubt. How many troughers in the last Parliament actually found themselves in the dock? Do you honestly believe that this case will ever see the inside of a Courtroom?

          • Alexsandr

            sorry. this smacks of one rule for them, one rule for the hoi polloi.
            As an aside, the scottish cardinal who is accused of sexual offences. how come the church, not the police are investigating.

            • GnosticBrian

              No – what it reflects is the immense difficulty in obtaining a conviction for fraud before a jury in England. I have personal experience of trying to get lawyers to prosecute and the hurdles to overcome are massive. Perhaps your own experiences have been happier,

              Scottish law is different and I do not have the required knowledge to comment on their procedures.

              • SilentHunter

                “…I have personal experience of trying to get lawyers to prosecute and the hurdles to overcome are massive…”

                Well you should be grateful that they let you off, then.

                I would be happy to let you off; in a firework sort of way. >:o)

                • GnosticBrian

                  Wrong way round my dear, I was trying to have someone prosecuted. Try not to let your prejudice cloud your judgement in future.

                • SilentHunter

                  No! . . . Really? ;o)

                • GnosticBrian

                  Yes, really.

                • SilentHunter

                  You’re kidding?

                  How could I have missed that the first time around. ;o) lol

                • GnosticBrian

                  Deliberate or by being intellectually challenged?

                • SilentHunter

                  Or maybe I was being facetious . . . and you missed it?


                • GnosticBrian

                  I really don’t care.

                  On a separate matter – what do you use for “silent” hunting? I use a 460 Weatherby Magnum on Cape Buffalo, effective but far from silent.

              • Tom Tom

                The Police don’t act because they are knew deep in corruption themselves

                • GnosticBrian

                  Given how they went after Andrew Mitchell, don’t you think they would have grabbed the opportunity to go after another Tory Minister? If you are alleging that Maria Miller has somehow corrupted the police, your evidence is? I assume that you intended “knee” rather than “knew”.

          • SadButMadLad

            The evidence is there in the judgement. She has to repay £5k. That money was taken without permission. That is theft. She has been let off lightly by being allowed to repay it.

            Would someone who took money from a company by over-claiming on expenses be let off so lightly? I doubt it. They would lose their job and with the amounts mentioned in Miller’s case the police would also be involved leading to a charge for fraud and maybe not jail time, but at a minimum a criminal record.

            As to why more MPs weren’t charged, that’s because parliament couldn’t or wouldn’t hand over the evidence except for those fall guys who were extremely bad in over-claiming. It didn’t help that the rules were lax and not implemented and regulated properly.

            • GnosticBrian

              In a Court the prosecutor has to prove the deliberate intention to take more rather than an “honest mistake when interpreting the rules” (remember that phrase from the last Parliament?). Believe me, this is not an easy task. Have you ever been involved in a fraud enquiry and prosecution?

              • paulus

                Im not suggesting for one moment, this woman has been involved in fraud, but im answering your question, if some one has inflated the value of an asset to gain public subsidy: it is fraud, there are no rules for different sections of society, It a gain out of public office an offence that stands by itself.The CPS are useless,

                • GnosticBrian

                  I wholeheartedly agree with you on the CPS. They are neck and neck with the Serious Fraud (Farce) Office in the incompetence stakes.

          • ButcombeMan

            If MM falsely misrepresented her rental in Basingstoke as her main home, knowing full well it was not and to gain personal financial advantage, that is the basis of an investigation for fraud.

            • GnosticBrian

              But is there EVIDENCE of such misrepresentation sufficient to convince a Court beyond all reasonable doubt?

              • ButcombeMan

                That is why there is a criminal investigation process and (usually) an evidence review before a charge. .

                • GnosticBrian

                  Just to be sure of the facts in this case – I haven’t seen where a criminal investigation has started; one Labour MP has asked the Met to investigate – but will have they agreed to investigate?

                  How many of the troughers were brought to book in the massive scandal exposed in the previous Parliament?

                  How many Bankers have been brought to book for the biggest collapse in recorded history?

                  Them and us was never truer.

                • ButcombeMan


                  Property “flipping” to corruptly secure, maximum personal financial advantage, from the public purse, had no doubt become institutionalised

                  One reason she gets so much parliamentary support.

                  They are (almost) all, in it together and Cameron is not prepared to live up to his fine words.

            • 2trueblue

              Amazing that our so called bright MPs have trouble deciphering what is their principal home. Heck if they have so much trouble with that then they are unfit to be an MP. Balls and his missus had huge difficulty in deciding where their main residence was. The system has to be changed and if the MPs fail to understand them they are not fit for purpose. The majority of people have little trouble understanding right from wrong.

          • Tom Tom

            Fraud is also a Civil Offence

      • 2trueblue

        Like J Smith who slept in her sisters house and charged us for a house! Apology was all it took to quash what was a very dishonest act. So an apology is all it takes?

      • SilentHunter

        The EVIDENCE is clear . . . it’s by what degree!

        It’s a least 5000+ “bits of evidence” or it could be more than 1.2 million “bits of evidence”.

        Then add in the threatening of journalists and the attempted cover-up and we enter a whole other, more sinister world or government “leaning” mafia-style on journalists.

        I doubt even Miller’s solicitor husband would want to take on her defence case. LOL

        • GnosticBrian

          Much as I would like to see this trougher in the dock, I very much doubt that it will come to that. As to this Government “leaning on” journalists, they are a bunch of ineffective amateurs compared to Alistair Campbell. None of them are fit for public office – so why do we keep voting for them?

          • SilentHunter

            I don’t.

      • Tom Tom

        I think you will find sufficient evidence in the Standards Commissioner Report and lots of newspapers happy to fund libel actions

        • GnosticBrian

          I read the report, albeit very quickly, please point me to the EVIDENCE sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a criminal offence has been committed.

  • Frank

    Why do you suppose she has any future as an MP?

    • GnosticBrian

      It’s a Wimmin thing innit.

      • Shazza

        Doesn’t take long for your inferiority complex fueled misogyny to kick in does it?

        Margaret Thatcher had bigger cojones than all of you wimps put together.

        BTW I think Cameron should have fired Miller because of her actions. Her gender has got absolutely nothing to do with it.

        • GnosticBrian

          It takes even less time for your feminist lack of any discernible sense of humour to kick in. Let me rephrase my comment, if Dave had fired Maria Miller the opposition would be trumpetting “Cameron fires one of his few women Cabinet members”. Happy now – whoop, I forgot, happiness is another thing absent from the feminist mindset.

          • Shazza

            You should have made your meaning clearer. If I misread your comment, I apologise.

            I don’t think Milibrain is so stupid as to accuse Cameron of firing her because of her gender but I see your point.

            You could not resist another little dig ‘happiness….mindset’.
            You obviously have the wimmin in your circle in stitches with your wit.

            Grow up.

            • GnosticBrian

              Give it a rest – an infelicitous choice of words doesn’t mean a mindset that sees a woman’s place as being confined to the domestic chores.