Saturday, May 23, 2009

No moral authority

I have to say that not having the weekly deadline of a column to file has been a release or sorts. The blank screen staring at me at, usually, 1am on a Sunday night when I used to write it, is not something I miss.

But the past few weeks have been an exception. 

This whole expenses thing may just blow over. But then again, unless some big event - a war, a terrorist attack - comes along to divert our attention, it could colour the way people vote.

It would have been a joy to have been writing the column this last month, if only to have been working in such a target-rich environment. Never let it be said I passed up a chance to shoot fish in a barrel.

The problem Labour and the Tories have is that they have shown themselves to be so pathetically driven to claim whatever they could, from cinema systems, to moats to cat food, all at our expense.

It becomes very difficult for them to argue against public sector pay rises and for tax rises when they have shown themselves so willing to spend our money on giving themselves a very comfortable life.

Of course, there are a few voices who have commented on the irony of journalists criticising anyone's expense claims when their own are so legendarily exorbitant. To a certain extent they are living in the past. Expense accounts may still be generous on some national papers, but not all, and certainly not to to the extent they were in the past. There was a time when not only could you claim a camel on expenses, but also the cost of its burial when  it died in the course of duty (see Stephen  Glover's 'Secrets of the Press')

Indeed when I started out as a lowly junior in North Wales and mentioned to my superiors that my wage was less than generous, I was told to 'bump up' my expenses to supplement my paltry pay. OK, I didn't get my moat cleaned, but the principle is the same. Except it was never with public money, and that is different.

Gordon Brown must be hoping that events will come to his rescue and something will happen in the next 12 months to rescue the reputation of his Government.

2 comments:

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