The ridicule of Parliament

expensesduck This morning, I picked up a copy of today’s Daily Telegraph, the edition of the paper that includes “The Complete Expenses Files,” a 68-page report detailing the revelations about MPs’ expenses that the paper has been publishing every day for the past month or so.

The first thing that struck me about this large-sized document was the front cover, which contains the image of a duck you see here – a handsome Mallard, by the look of it – and which probably sums up everything that’s ridiculous about this whole MPs’ expenses affair.

The duck relates to an expenses claim by Conservative MP Sir Peter Viggers for a floating house for ducks on a pond. It’s a fitting symbol – a logo, even – for the ridicule members such as he have brought down upon the institution of Parliament.

schweppes-expenses paddypower-expenses

specsavers-expenses

That’s not all, though, as the inside front and back covers of the Telegraph’s report contain the ads you see here by soft drinks maker Schweppes and online bookmaker Paddypower.com.

Then there’s the ad from SpecSavers the opticians that appears within the Telegraph itself.

Click on these small images if you’d like to see them in larger sizes.

Each of these ads are amusing, depending on your sense of humour of course.

In the case of Schweppes, the ad continues a campaign the brand has been running  for some while in print media. Specsavers’ ad, too, fits with a humorous campaign I’ve seen in recent 30-second TV spots.

Collectively, though, it adds up to ridicule, humour at the expense (no pun intended) of a system that ought to guarantee respect. Shouldn’t it?

Yet after the Telegraph’s revelations, does Parliament and those within it warrant any respect? While there surely are individual MPs and others at Westminster who do have honour and have not abused the system, isn’t everyone tarred with the same brush in the court of public opinion?

Meanwhile, we can look forward to more revelations from the Telegraph – they’re not done yet, not by any means – as well as the full expenses file being published online at 8am UK time on June 23 as a searchable database of “the chapter and verse of all expenditure by each MP since 2001-02.”

Also on that day, the Telegraph says it will publish the documentary evidence behind the expenses claim of every MP.

Who’d want to be be a politician, is what I wonder.