Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

MP’s expenses: the other scandal

Posted in Journalism, News and that by Adam Westbrook on May 15, 2009

A brief foray into the (now) seedy world of politics…but from a media point of view of course.

It’s fantastically scandalous isn’t it. Whether they meant to break the rules or not, it seems Britain’s elected representatives have spent quite a bit of time making sure they can get every penny from the tax payer possible; even if that has taken quite a lot of effort and thought.

“Is it possible to claim this portico back?” “Why not, it’s being repaired right?”

“16p for a lemon. Can I get that back too?”

And as for Elliot Morley, the mere suggestion it is possible to forget the end of your mortgage bill is ludicrous. For most human beings the final mortgage payment is serious party time. Especially if it’s costing £800 a month. Take our money, Mr. Morley, and try and take us for a ride, why don’t you.

So yes, I definitely put myself into the rather large camp of people pretty damn angry about our politicians’ behaviour.

But that’s only part of the reason I’m angry.

As a journalist, what makes my blood boil, is the sheer lack of accountability of these conmen and women. Let’s be straight: when you are elected by the public, and paid by them, you are 100% accountable to them. And even more so when you’ve been caught with your hand in their cookie jar.

So why have all these MPs been so hard to get hold of?

Friday: and John Prescott’s office never answered the phone. He also didn’t release a statement. For a man so tech savvy, his v-blog was decidedly unupdated.

Monday: and I was on the phone to David Davis’ office. “Oh he’s told me he isn’t going to hide away” his assistant Andrew assured me, “he’ll speak to you.” Several more calls and more answerphone messages later, and we still haven’t spoken to him.

Thursday: Elliot Morley’s office couldn’t even tell us where he was. “Somewhere in London,” they said, “we’re not sure where.” End of play Thursday and we hadn’t heard from the man himself. Friday morning and we decided to call his house. Amazingly he answered.

You can hear what happened by clicking here.

For 38 seconds, Elliot Morley was being held accountable to the public, through the media. But he even dodged our reporter Katie Hall‘s questions under the thin veil of legal advice.

Yes, they’ve released statements, and yes they’ve responded to the Daily Telegraph. But that isn’t being directly accountable to the people who put them there and the people who pay them.

When you’re elected by, and paid for by, the public you answer every question, from every media organisation.

If there was going to be a party for fraudulent politicians, chances are it would be held somewhere near Yorkshire, as its where a lot of them are. John Prescott, David Davis, James Clappison, Elliot Morley, Douglas HoggAustin Mitchell, Caroline Flint,  and now Shahid Malik. Now four of these are supposed to represent the Viking FM’s listeners.

One week since the first allegations were published and they haven’t had their questions answered.

And the disclaimer:

All the views expressed in this blog are my own, only, and do not represent those of my employer!

2 Responses

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  1. ynotoman said, on May 23, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    If MP’s expect the Head of State to declare income and expenses – whats good for the Goose is good for the Gander –
    ps Any Taxpayer (yes YOU the MP’s employer) can take out a private prosecution. THE 2006 FRAUD ACT… (C35) 2) Fraud by False Representation 4) Fraud by Abuse of Position. MP’s are subject to the law.


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