In an earlier post I suggested that the Telegraph was concentrating on the second homes issue to the exclusion of all else. It appears that, when it suits their purpose, they are prepared to bring up issues they have ignored elsewhere.
The communication allowance is a case in point. I note that this morning’s Sunday Telegraph devotes nearly half a page to Conservative MP Angela Browning using hers, last year, to set up a website for herself and maintain it until the next election. Why is the spending of similar sums on ‘Communication’ by MPs dubbed ‘saints’ not commented upon at all? I object to this allowance on principle, but I also object to organs of the press being less than even handed in matters of this sort and I am not alone in beginning to have misgivings about the underlying purpose of the Telegraph’s whole approach to this issue.
The same applies to the matter of staff. This is not mentioned at all where the selected ‘saints’ are concerned, but there nonetheless, and given major coverage in other cases, especially where a family member is involved. Again, I cannot see why a back bench MP (or a Lib Dem with no real prospect of office, whatever grandiose titles they may assume) should need £85,ooo worth of ‘staff’ in the first place (and another £17,000 for ‘cover’ on top – making £102,000 in all!) But if some who do this can be dubbed ‘saints’ why does the same matter assume demonic proportions in others? If the family member employed is doing no work as per Derek Conway, then fair enough. But shouldn’t the Telegraph, in natural justice, ascertain whether this is actually the case? After all, plenty of people work for relatives and are paid. And plenty of MPs’ spouses do, and have in the past done sterling work in their other-half’s constituency unpaid. The late Ellen Dean (see below my comments on the late Lord Paul) was a case in point.
Maybe the Archbishop of Canterbury has a point. Which is why the Sunday Telegraph has jumped all over him with self-righteous indignation this morning.