Insights from the UK and beyond
MPs shoot themselves in foot over expenses
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.
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?