So how damaging is the expenses scandal? Harriet Harman has told Sky that it is all within the rules, and I’m sure that’s true. But that’s not the point. To the public, this will look like plunder pure and simple. Straw claiming his council tax back, etc. Ministers had best calibrate their response very carefully, and here is an example in how not to respond from Sir Stuart Bell, who sits on the House of Commons Commission:
The Daily Telegraph, which has not discussed any aspect of the sourcing, has simply told the public what its elected officials have done with their money. Something is undermining our democracy here, and it is not the press.
“If this was received by unauthorised means, it is disgraceful that a national newspaper should stoop so low as to buy information which will be in the public domain in July. It undermines the very basis of our democracy and is against all the rules of fair play.”