Thursday, April 02, 2009

Tedious MP Vouchers For Sale: Less Than £500 Per Constituency

The Times reported yesterday that they had been approached "by a businessman" 11 days before the Sunday Express publication of some Jacqui Smith material. With the £300,000 price tag. HERE. Now young Paul Staines/Guido Fawkes/Mister GuF has offered to receive the material free and gratis and see to it that it is web-posted - out of reach of the UK authorities - within 24 hours.

Mmmmm. Conduct Dutch auction for material as a complete package? Or drip, drip, drip in a death by 500 stories? Or give it all to Guido? Put yourselves in the businessman's position. Which would you choose?

Strikes me that the current asking price is less than £500 per constituency. Even in these straightened times you'd expect local papers or political opponents to be able to raise £500 per constituency for an oggle at these papers? Of course if the Commons had been answering the many and varied Freedom of Information requests for MPs expenses, or simply publishing the lot proactively, there would be little or no market in this 99.9% tedious material. As all the scanning and so on is we hear complete could not the government burst this bubble, or lance this boil, TODAY?

And what about employees names? There may be arguments for these to not be disclosed. Being confidential personnel records. The names of any and all more casual employees included in these vouchers when they are officially published might well be redacted.

LOL are interested in these below the radar ones. Working on an ad hoc basis. Possibly cash in hand. Without ever getting close to parliamentary email addresses. Deniable. In some cases perhaps laundering monies back into local political party units rather than keeping the fruits of their labours? Or simply avoiding tax and national insurance.

We would need access to MP and local party bank accounts and cash ledgers to get anywhere near transparency on some of this below the line carry on. Which party of government would have the guts to retrospectively require all MPs and political units to go completely open book? To require proper auditors instead of friendly and amateur volunteers?

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