Re: You know you've hit them where it hurts
" The expenses scandal I'll give you though: that was good work."
I can't honestly entirely agree - and I've been a Telegraph reader for years. Once it started, it turned into something for too akin to a witch hunt to make me comfortable - day after day of page after page of anything the paper could rake up. The paper was clearly revelling in its own publicity, and determined to milk it for everything it could.
In particular there was far too much pillorying of MPs for absolutely anything that the paper thought wouldn't play well with the public, irrespective of likely dishonest intent. Yeah, absolutely there were some real outrages lurking. More power to the paper for finding and exposing those. But others? There were others that, frankly, had me fuming - ones that I had far more sympathy for, because in the MP's position I might well have made the same mistake. I'm talking about a slew of cases which clearly boiled down to naivety: an MP being told - probably by a senior civil servant - "This is what you can claim for"; assuming that whoever was talking, was doing so with authority, and taking what they were told at face value; and not stopping to ask themselves whether it was actually a good idea (and, in context, how it might play in the public stage if the detail came out).
Well - I've worked in a large organisation, and it's my experience that even the most honest person normally just follows the rules on what can be claimed, and assumes that those rules have been agreed, vetted and cleared - and that their claims will be similarly vetted against those rules. If one rule happens to work to your benefit and you end up in pocket, that's the luck of the draw; another time, things will work against you, and you'll be shelling out (a good example might be a per diem allowance; sometimes it will be more than you need, sometimes it really won't stretch). Most people take the pluses and minuses as they come, and don't consider they're doing anything wrong or dishonest in doing so. The difference is, they don't have the national media crawling over their claims and accusing them of dishonesty for every time they end up two quid in pocket. And, yes, MPs are special, and every sitting MP should now fully understand that the public expects them to do that extra self-audit and act upon the conclusions. But, frankly, I doubt whether many of them had thought about that at the time of the "scandal". And, equally frankly, I had very strong doubts at the time as to whether some of the staff expense claims at the Telegraph would have looked any better if exposed to similar public scrutiny and expectations.