Was Labour right to attack the messenger?
There seems to be have been a determined effort by leading Labour figures to deal with part 1 of the Telegraph expenses expose by attacking the messenger – the paper itself. Veteran MP Stuart Bell was on the Daily Politics programme and others this morning were making the same point as though it was not the fault of greedy MPs at all but the beastly press who might have even laid out cash to get the information.
My guess is that this won’t wash. For it’s the detail of how ministers have sought to maximise their take from the allowance system that has been so damning. So what if the Telegraph paid out cash – the public interest defence looks pretty strong.
The idea that all of this would have come out anyway in July doesn’t stand up. For all MPs have been given the opportunity to “redact” their documentation so that address data is not revealed. Unfortunately it’s precisely this information which is key to exposing the biggest abuse – switching the home that’s designated as the main residence in order to maximise the return.
If the media had waited until the receipts had all the “processed” then the outcome would have been less devastating.
Clearly much of the focus now will be on the next round of stories from the paper. How are David Cameron’s Tories going to look when their expenses are made public – which might happen over the weekend.
This evening: I’m taking part in a discussion on Radio FiveLive from 10pm on the expenses affair.