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Friday 26 June 2009

Too Much Information

And still Expensegate rumbles on. The Maily Telegraph keeps up its increasingly barrel scraping campaign, Young Dave prevails upon more of his MPs to repay money, Pa Broon seemingly doing likewise. Where will it end?

Well, if last night’s pronouncements by Young Dave are anything to go by, it may not. The apparent determination of the Tories to make lots more information available to the public – in raw form, which those of us who do a neat CSV to Excel import move like – will give the number crunching fraternity hours of harmless fun, but could become Cameron’s albatross.

For a start, we can now compare who’s given back how much. 250k for Young Dave’s chaps, but a whole 360k for Pa Broon. So Broon is better? Well, not really, as Labour have around 350 MPs and the Tories less than 200. But even this is not conclusive, as the Labour Party are still “considering” the cases of yet more of their MPs. We can’t make any definite conclusion from these figures, as the nature of underlying claims may be different, and the figures aren’t final. But what we can conclude is that, given lots more opportunities to produce headline numbers, there will be more of those numbers, quoted as selectively as those publishing them deem necessary.

This, in plain English, means that the Fourth Estate are on to a winner: little expenditure, maximum political embarrassment, and more sales. Unless Young Dave and his chaps get into power and have a sudden attack of National Security Information Override.

Meanwhile, the most astute commentary, as so often, comes from good old Private Eye. On Page 22 of the latest issue (1239) is a bogus Maily Telegraph masthead and the headline “Tory MP Claimed 99p For Roll of 10 Bin Liners And Only Used 8”.


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