Conservative Diary

« In less than a month we will no longer have to listen to Christopher Beazley and Caroline Jackson | Main | The earliest days of the social justice agenda »

The Telegraph's great public service

Telegraph The Daily Telegraph has been the subject of a lot of justified criticism of late but today's edition is a triumph.  Guido Fawkes and the TaxPayers' Alliance have been the commando raiders against parliamentary sleaze but The Daily Telegraph of 8th May 2009 will be seen as the definitive moment of this sorry saga.

You won't find a bigger fan of new media than me but today's newspaper is a good example of why old-style, print-based journalism still matters.  Benedict Brogan has been the articulate public face of The Telegraph's expose of MPs' expenses but a huge team has put today's newspaper together - doing all the legal dilgence, producing easy-to-digest graphics and going through the mass of data.  I understand that there have been a lot of lost weekends for lots of staffers.  The 1 to 10 simple guide to how MPs work the system on page two is the clearest possible guide to what has gone on.

Labour MPs have been busy shooting the messenger today and there is loose talk of The Telegraph being prosecuted.  I don't think there's a jury of free men and women in this country who would convict The Telegraph.  They'll triumph if they say they were acting in the public interest.

And make no mistake: Only by The Telegraph publishing this data in the way it has have we learnt the full scale of what MPs have been doing.  MPs had passed a new statutory instrument that would have meant the official July release would have kept MPs' addresses secret.  The Telegraph hasn't published MPs' addresses but because they have them they have been able to expose how MPs 'flip' their addresses - nominating their London home for refurbishment and then identifying their constituency home as their 'official second home' and renovating that one at the expense of the taxpayer. 

The Telegraph will turn its attention to Tory MPs tomorrow.  Gulp.  11pm: Apologies. It'll be more Labour tmrw.

Tim Montgomerie


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.