From the comments here:
Starting an illegal war and allowing the banks to ruin the economy, neither of those is sufficiently serious to bring down a government. But a couple of free dinners…
The original piece is interesting as well – the Telegraph smearing a couple of Lib Dem MPs, one for letting his daughter stay at his London flat (while neglecting to mention that he paid 1/3 of the flat’s cost to reflect the fact he was making personal use of it), and one for travelling around his enormous, 10%-of-Scotland constituency. The horror!
Incidentally, if I had to work on a permanent basis in two different locations hundreds of miles apart, damn right I’d expect my employer to pay for a second flat, and damn right I’d expect them to pay for decent furniture, a telly, and suchlike. Obviously that isn’t the case if the second site is only 15 miles away, and the deal shouldn’t be structured in a way that allows me to make money from property speculation – but there’s some serious baby-bathwater stuff going on with the MP expenses scandal.
In the same vein, see D-Notice’s plans to prevent anyone with kids from becoming an MP, by cutting base pay to gbp30,000 and not paying any expenses at all. I also like his plan to make all government departments junk Microsoft and move to the execrable OpenOffice: this is either a man who has not done anything serious with spreadsheets ever, or a man who’s trying to destroy the system from within…
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Hey, in these tightened times every organisation should be forced to convert to open source software.
What could possibly go wrong?
Not spam, honest.
Haha. I don't even hate open source though – I use the GIMP because it's just as good as Photoshop for the grunt-level stuff I need to do, and this blog is running WordPress on Apache on <mumble> free Unix variant.
For simple applications and utilities, with a clearly defined and understood purpose, open source is the shit.
But for a serious, almost-unlimited-functionality tool like Excel, there's no substitute for thousands of PhD programmers and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of user acceptance testing.</mumble>
Completely agree with you on the Open Source software point. It's horses for courses. I'm more than happy to have a Linux-based netbook, use WordPress to blog and Firefox to browse the web. But I'll take Excel over any Open Source alternative and Dreamweaver above its competitors (for the superior ColdFusion compatibility). I don't really get the people who get ideological about one or the other… I just want the best application for the task at hand. Great when it's free, but I'm willing to pay when it's not.
On the Westminister expenses brouhaha, I'm ambivalent. If a newspaper or commentator or blogger was a supporter of — or even silent about — politicians "[s]tarting an illegal war and allowing the banks to ruin the economy…" but gets all het up about some dubious expenses claims; then it's perfectly fair to suggest they should get some perspective.
There are others, however, who have felt — and expressed — outrage at those past crimes and more. This is just the latest in a long line of reasons to give the political establishment a kicking. And if this one has sparked public outrage — for whatever reason — then they are more than happy to capitalise upon that fact.
Certainly yes, I'd rather they were being hounded for their far more heinous misdeeds, and I look forward to the day when that happens. But in the meantime, I'll gladly see them squirm for this.
There's a lot to be said for free, closed source software too. The Visual Studio Express Editions are great, if you like that kind of thing. Oh, and Picasa – roughly infinity-times quicker than any other way of cropping a photo.
On-topic, and in no way defending the piggy snout politicians mode, I'm sure it would be fascinating if a paper started publishing some private sector expenses claims. Fascinating, but possibly not at all that good for the nation's workplace morale.
"Incidentally, if I had to work on a permanent basis in two different locations hundreds of miles apart, damn right I’d expect my employer to pay for a second flat, and damn right I’d expect them to pay for decent furniture, a telly, and suchlike."
Incidentally, the Foreign Office does exactly this for its diplomats and their families, with taxpayers' money, and for some reason this hasn't yet been the subject of a Telegraph investigation.
that's because the FCO is quite likely the largest single payer of private school fees in the UK and thus the Telegraph will never question their expenses.
The FCO overnight scale rates are surprisingly generous – they're generally used by companies and firms as the benchmark for any tax-free cost of living uplift you may give to your overseas secondees.
More personally, a friend of mine went to Belgium with the FCO (as pretty much one level up above the mail room boy) and was given a flat large enough to camp in for his stay.
I assumed it was because the Telegraph's entire foreign coverage consists of barely-functional lunatics like Ambrose Evans-Pritchard transcribing whatever the FCO and the SIS tell him over a drink, and so if they start in on the diplomatic corps then they might just as well give up on foreign coverage altogether.