Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Betsygate - IDS guilty"

The rush to condemn the Tory leader over his wife working for him stinks, and I'm not just saying that because Iain Duncan Smith and I are both keen Tottenham Hotspur supporters and fanatical fly fishermen.

The whole wheeze was got up by IDS's enemies at Conservative Central Office, and if he were not such a weak leader the story would have been seen as the joke it is. I reckon Newsnight spiked it because it was crap, not because it was libellous.

How many MPs have wives, mothers, brothers, sisters and aunts working for them? Westminster is rife with nepotism, and everyone knows it. So Betsy trousers £15,000 for selling marmalade at the village fete and IDS's leadership is in question. Who is to judge if someone has done 15-grand's worth of work? How many MPs are worth that much?

The man who has to decide IDS's fate is the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir Philip Mawer. Half the House must be shaking in their boots. What if he decides that it is corrupt for families to be working for MPs with taxpayers forking out the lolly?

Now even more pathetic stories about Duncan Smith are surfacing. The latest is that he used his ministerial car to attend a Tory function. It's all right for "two Jags" Prescott to have a fleet of government cars to ferry him around at the Labour conference, but IDS is supposed to walk or catch a bus.

He might be a useless leader but, for goodness sake, get rid of him for political reasons, not on trumped-up charges that, if applied across the Commons, would see the membership halved. My hunch is that when I next see IDS on the riverbank or at White Hart Lane, he will still be Tory leader.

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