MPs shoot themselves in foot over expenses

June 19, 2009

The online release of MPs’ expense claims has only served to further dent their already battered reputation.

Forty-two days after the Daily Telegraph began to investigate MPs’ expenses the Houses of Parliament finally got round to publishing official details of them. Or rather it didn’t, as lots of key information was blacked out.

Britain’s newspapers spelt out their condemnation – in black and white – of this supposed exercise in freedom of information.

The Sun labelled MPs “Blankers”, the Daily Mirror led with the headline: “Blackwash”, while the Daily Mail posed the question: “Just how stupid do they think we are?”

Commons officials insisted that the information that had been blacked out was done to protect MPs’ security, but the consensus of Britain’s media was that the political classes had shot themselves in the foot.

“Yesterday’s exercise in obfuscation suggested the House of Commons has learnt nothing,” opined the Daily Telegraph’s editorial, with the paper promising to publish an uncensored version of every MP’s expense claim on Saturday.

“The Portcullis House edition of the dossier does not so much slam the door behind a bolted stallion as painstakingly construct a new stable in order to house a dead nag,” wrote the Guardian.

The farce was meat and drink to cartoonists. The Guardian’s Steve Bell captioned his cartoon with the statement: “Justice must not only not be done, it must not be seen to not be done.”

Even advertisers got in on the fun with a Volkswagen advert having most of its words crossed out.

Lest your mood has been overly blackened, remember that at least we have learnt a new word from this very British political scandal. Hands up who knew what the word “redacted” – to make ready for publication; edit or revise – meant 42 days ago?

The question is now how are MPs going to redact their reputations?


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Politicians have no need to “redact” their reputations. They are all tarred with the same brush so there is nothing to choose between them on this issue.

Just as the public have been disenfranchised by the major parties collaborating to refuse giving voters a choice on major issues such as the EU and immigration, so they are collaborating by closing ranks to refuse voters a choice between honest and dishonest politicians.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

How stupid are MP’s. They almost to a man / woman bleat on that they were acting within the rules, surely people noticed that a similar line has been used before. I was only acting under orders.

MP’s are supposed to represent the public and as such be role models. Further tripe, from politicians in the news today, of “this is turning into a witch hunt” well listen to government ad’s desribing the fate of benefit cheats, we the general public hold politicians below the esteem of benefit cheats. So, MP’s if you feel uncomfortable, unlucky get used to it, this is not going to go away, nor do we accept your pitiful excuses.

Posted by scoops | Report as abusive

Why do MPs run the country in the way that they do??
If they were able to consider the country a ‘business’ and act accordingly perhaps some of the distrust will fall away.
Why do they need to have a recess?? any company trying to do this would no doubt cease to trade, particularly as the situation demands constant monitoring and attention!!
To complete my tirade, detailed information relating to pension and pension entitlement needs to be available for scruitiny.

Posted by DWood | Report as abusive

Anybody who has ever worked for a boss or colleague with a limitless sense of entitlement will recognise the behaviour pattern. Don’t wait for them to learn or adapt – they never will. Their perspective is to vaguely observe that things have unaccountably (but temporarily) gone wrong with the universe’s processes for adapting to them.

The term ‘Narcissitic Personality Disorder’ fits perfectly.

To use an aussie expression ‘trust them as far as you can spit a fridge’

Posted by Steve Marshall | Report as abusive