Friday, June 19, 2009

MPs expenses – concealed, censored, blacked out and redacted

This must be Gordon Brown’s concept of ‘transparency’ to restore the public’s faith in the democratic system. Rather like his assertion that the inquiry into the Iraq war had to be held in camera, the heavily-censored presentation of MPs expenses seems designed purposely to frustrate the public will and heighten the sense of disgust and distrust.

Polly Toynbee on last night’s Question Time said ‘redacted’ was a new word.

But she writes for The Guardian.

Cranmer has no problem with redaction, for some information ought to be confidential – telephone numbers, bank details and the like.

But the scale of the blacking-out on these expense claims is preposterous, not least because The Daily Telegraph has already shone a light in the darkness and revealed facts which the Parliamentary Fees Office is now concealing. These receipts would not have revealed the most appalling abuses like tax avoidance by ‘flipping’ or ‘double-dipping’. And neither would we have learned about phantom mortgages, moat cleaning or duck houses. One is left with the impression of collusion and cover-up.

But what is the point of colluding to cover up that which has already been disclosed?

Cranmer is bemused by the gross effort which has been expended in order to censor these expenses claims, and he has a little gripe:

It has cost the taxpayer almost £2million to prepare more than a million receipts for publications – sorting, scanning, redacting and posting them onto a website.

So far, MPs have paid back in the region £500,000.

The taxpayer has paid £1.5million for a million useless pieces of paper. This is the wasteful, bureaucratic, inefficient state.

The Daily Telegraph has published the uncensored version of the expenses files, providing a far better and fully ‘transparent’ service to the public at a very reasonable price: in fact, you only pay for it (paltry pence) if you want it. They have made available all the important details and intend publishing on their website the hundreds of pages of claims which were removed altogether before the expense files were published. Further, they intend to publish a special, glossy 68-page magazine supplement detailing the claims made by every sitting MP.

Cranmer thanks God for The Daily Telegraph.

Perhaps the Barclay brothers might consider donating the £1.5million shortfall from their vast reserves and the extra income derived from this scoop in order to mitigate and indeed totally eradicate the costs to the innocent taxpayer. What a generous act of Christian charity that would be.

10 Comments:

Blogger Gnostic said...

It's about time someone redacted Brown's premiership to read - SACKED!

19 June 2009 at 10:07  
Blogger McKenzie said...

I am watching Iran's Nuremberg Rally on Sky News. I will be back later to comment.

19 June 2009 at 10:30  
Blogger Demetrius said...

I redact, you are economical with the truth.

19 June 2009 at 11:03  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Right, sorry about that, but I have not sen that level of national hysteria since the Reichsparteitag 1930's (not that I was there). Like then, the whole world watches and awaits in futile anticipation for words and signs of peace.

Anyway, MPs blacked out bits of paper. What is there to say? I followed the links on the Parliament web site yesterday in order to take a peek at my MP's shenanigans, but it was just a humiliating piss-take. Looking at some of the scans, which are just black squares devoid of anything else, I have concluded that this is somehow their way of flipping the bird.

19 June 2009 at 11:11  
Anonymous Chris said...

Politicians seem to live in hope that The Daily Mash was actually onto something:

...if you show someone a document, ask them to memorise it and then take it away, cover it in black ink and show it to them again, they will immediately forget everything they read in the first place.

19 June 2009 at 11:25  
Blogger The Half-Blood Welshman said...

"Perhaps the Barclay brothers might consider donating the £1.5million shortfall from their vast reserves and the extra income derived from this scoop in order to mitigate and indeed totally eradicate the costs to the innocent taxpayer."

It would also nearly make up for the taxes they don't pay by living in Sark.

19 June 2009 at 12:44  
Anonymous Puritan Preacher said...

Doubtless the media will delight in trawling through the Daily Telegraph data once again and the dodgy deeds now lying under cover of darkness shall be exposed. That which was hidden shall surely be shouted from the rooftops for a second time.

Their idiocy and incompetence in this matter is beyond comprehension. This government deserves a fatal stab wound from their own censors pen.

19 June 2009 at 13:01  
Anonymous len said...

This black -out shows the utter contempt this government has for the electorate.
Men surely hate the light for it exposes their evil deeds.

19 June 2009 at 13:23  
Anonymous otacilia severa said...

Was your comment on the Cornerstone blog ironic, Your Grace, or did you really regard the person concerned as having been treated unfairly?

20 June 2009 at 15:10  
Anonymous stedmancinques said...

I commend to your Grace's readers Gail Paterson Corrigan's essay on redaction criticism, which she describes as an unlovely translation of the German 'Redaktiongeschichte'. The essay is to be found in a useful collection on the aims and methods of various schools of Biblical scholarship entitled, 'To each its own Meaning', edited by McKenzie and Haynes.
The nub of her argument is that a 'redactor' is not just a censoring editor, but a creative being who imposes new meanings on the material in the act of selecting what to omit from the old.
Electorally speaking, one can only hope for a re-run of the story of Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16)

20 June 2009 at 17:59  

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