Over the last two days the Telegraph has splashed its front pages here and here with a reminder of the Parliamentary expenses scandal of a few months ago. I shared the opinion of most people I know, that the Daily Telegraph was right to publish MP's expenses, even if the way they were 'leaked' was a bit underhand. If this had not happened, we would never have found out what was going on.
I do accept that there was much unfairness - and little judgement deployed about the differing seriousness of the various claims highlighted. Seemed to me that some politicians were very harshly treated, while it seemed that some 'got away with it'. But it was difficult to generate any sympathy for individual MPs, no matter how 'innocent', because of the extent to which efforts were made to keep it all secret. When the expenses were officially released, all the blacked out pages, left everyone involved in the 'leaking' appearing fully justified. People were angry about what had been claimed - and they were even more angry about the attempts to keep it secret. It was just not acceptable that claims were made for non-existent mortgages, or for Council Tax in excess of what had been paid. People do not think that properties should have been 'flipped', or that allowances should have been claimed on properties that had been let to others etc.. The next Parliament must be completely different - for the well being of our democracy.
The reason I applaud the Telegraph for reminding us of this issue is that it must not be forgotten when the General Election is called. I hope that the Telegraph returns to this story as the campaign proper starts - not to make life difficult for incumbent MPs, but to make certain that all candidates are pressured to make clear promises before being elected. What has happened has happened. We can't change that. The damage has been done. What's most important now, is that we do all we can to make sure that our next Parliament and its MPs are elected on a precise promise not to repeat the abuses of the past.