They're not all scum
I think the Telegraph, and others, have gone too far with MP’s expenses now.
Yes, some of them are money-grabbing little sh*ts who deserve the marching orders they’ll be given at the next election.
But some of the MPs who’ve had their expenses splashed across the newspapers really have done nothing wrong.
The Daily Mail have the news that Oliver Letwin claimed £2,000 to replace a leaking pipe under his tennis court. His response that:
I was served a statutory notice by the water company to repair the leaking pipe, which runs underneath the tennis court and garden. No improvements were made to the tennis court or garden.”
seems to have been pretty much ignored – the paper’s still run the story and painted him as an expenses cheat in the process.
Another overblown example is the Prime Minister – yes his cleaner seems to be flipping expensive, but suggesting he was siphoning off public money to line his brother’s pockets is pretty close to an outright lie, and yet it’s the impression most people will now have.
I’m not too worried about individual MPs being slandered though – their electorate will see through the media bluster at the next election.
But I think the general ‘they’re all at it’ mood of the press is going to be really damaging. With a change of government more than likely, you’d expect turnout at the next election to be higher than 2001 and 2005.
But if the public think politicians are universally a breed of tight-fisted, public money-stealing good-for-nothings then it wouldn’t surprise me if turnout actually dropped. What, after all, is the point of voting for anyone if every politician is bent?
Gordon Brown’s claim that the system is at fault is nearly half-right, but it takes a certain kind of person to exploit that system.
However, the media’s completely over-the-top wall-to-wall coverage of the 650+ liars, cheats and bastards will do nothing for the public’s faith in democracy. And if that breaks down, we really are screwed.