The way the Conservatives have been laying into Jacqui Smith for her expenses woes over the weekend you’d have thought their party was immune from this sort of staying-within-the-rules slip. The emergence of their heavyweight (ie 20 stone) party chairman Eric Pickles (Professional northerner/ Bardford council leader turned Essex MP) in this morning’s headlines is a stark reminder of their hypocrisy on the issue. He was the person who invited three people to a Spring drinks reception in the shadow cabinet room that ended up with an arrest, an injured police officer and the use of CS gas after a “fracas” occurred behind the Speaker’s chair. So, some questions for Mr Pickles:

* Doesn’t it show how out of touch you are when everyone else is in recesssionary belt-tightening mode to be hosting a booze-up for no apparent reason?
* Given that the whole of London is on high alert for the G20 couldn’t you have vetted your guests to the Palace of Westminster more carefuly?
* When your party health spokesperson Andrew Lansley said that recessions can change behaviours where people eat and drink less were you taking heed?
* Isn’t it a bit rich of your party to be pointing the finger at people like Tony McNulty when you yourself are an MP for a London commuter-belt seat but insist on a second London flat?
* Is it just me who thought your Question Time appearance trying to defend the above was not your finest hour?

Ooops sorry that last one has been answered already. Liberal Conspiracy’s “car crash tv” verdict was predictable enough. However this Torygraph columnist (the Conservatives in-house journal don’t forget) also describes how “a slow motion car crash occured” labelling the performance “inept”. He concludes “Tories should put Eric Pickles under house arrest”. Point taken.