Friday, May 08, 2009

What's Really Going On? Are MP's Expenses that Important?

Iain Dale's Diary: Darling & Hoon Are the Two Most Serious Cases:

OK, I have now just ploughed through the nine pages of coverage in the Telegraph. It's a curious mix of the outrageous and the pedestrian. You get the impression with one or two of the Cabinet Ministers that a story has been manufactured out of very little. But for most of them, there are questions which need to be answered, and I am afraid that the stock answer of 'It was approved by the Fees Office' or 'It's within the rules' is simply not good enough.

Iain Dale here is voicing perhaps the "David Broder" voice in the British Press (named after the Washington Post writer who always manages to voice the "Inside the Beltway" consensus).

But, without getting into conspiracy theories, I am beginning to think this must just a huge hoot to the "business community".

The total possible expenditure on 646 MPs at £24,000 per year is just over £15 million, (much of it probably justified).

Meanwhile the Bank of England announces it's buying up another £50 billion, and no one is discussing it in the press at all (although it is being reported). Bond-dealers are taking their percentages as we all squawk. I wonder how much that will be for a £50 Billion buy?

This is not a question of "cover-up", but the way in which transient news stories sometimes miss what the real story is, and where the real money is.

From my former transatlantic position, btw, the amounts involved are piddling. Senators and congressmen routinely add provisions to US spending bills in return for "favours" from local or national business men that would make £24,000 look like pocket money.

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