MPs Expenses – Let He Who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone

Here we are again, repetition of details of MPs expenses. Important in a way – yes; more important than the real news it sidelines – definitely not. Compared with the billions the banks have squandered while blatantly rewarding themselves for their failures, the sums involved are tiny. Against the plight of the world’s starving, the implications of our involvement in wars and how the UK relates to the rest of the world, MPs expenses are non-news.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there is a greater principle involved, when it comes to public servants being caught with their hands in the cookie jar, it is right that it is aired. However, it should be kept in proportion. Traditional media is in decline and in quandary over readership/listeners/viewers. Their revenues are dwindling, perhaps they should start to think about what those readers, listeners and viewers really want.

The continual repetition of non-stories is a real interest killer. In a half hour news programme on TV they continually repeat the same information. When conducting an interesting interview, they cut the interviewee short because ‘we have run out of time’ only to go on and repeat the headlines from five minutes earlier.

The red-tops sold their soul to the devil in turning themselves into little more than comics – reporting TV soaps as though they are real life events. Now they find they can’t compete with the web for that instant ‘news as entertainment hit’. Even Radio 4’s Today programme results in a tedious car journey to work made even duller by needless repetition. The only solution – switch off!

Sometimes there are world events that warrant this kind of news treatment, but MPs expenses is not one of them. It really is no surprise that where there is a procedure for people to claim expenses there are also claims that appear wrong. Could it be just as interesting for the public to know how BBC journalists pocket their expenses for example? After all, it too is a public funded organisation – so, as the bible says, ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’.

Adrian Maguire, Partner, Ainsworth Maguire Public Relations

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