Friday 25 September 2009

No Expense Spared

Over at the Telegraph, I read that there is to be a new book on the MPs’ expense scandal of this summer. It has been compiled by the Telegraph’s journalists with the help of someone they refer to as the “mole”. That’s not particularly surprising news I hear you say. The Telegraph is far to savvy an organisation to miss the opportunity of publishing a book on what was its biggest story of the year.

What is interesting is how it came by all the information. Well it goes like this.

When, after a mammoth struggle to avoid publication, the MPs were instructed to come clean, it was agreed that the papers published should be heavily “redacted” ... or censored to you and me. So of course, at our expense, a team of “redactors” was set up. Many of them were parliamentary staff seconded for the job. But, so secret was the information (unlike that information that the government keeps leaving on trains, in taxis or sending unencoded, by carrier) that they had to employ security guards to make sure that nothing was leaked.

Now here comes the interesting bit, you know, the bit where the MPs get bitten on their butts. UK soldiers, it seems, are so poorly equipped compared with other nations’ troops that they have to buy a lot of their own gear. At the same time the lower ranks are so badly paid that they can’t afford to buy it. So they are between a rock and a hard place. Being bright and inventive guys, some of them decided that, during their hard earned and very much deserved leave they would, instead of lying on a beach, or spending time with their partner, that they would go work as security people. It’s against the regulations, but when it’s a matter of life or death and the authorities are too hard up to provide you with the goods.... well, a guy’s gotta do what a guys gotta do.

Well, unfortunately for the MPs, some of these lads got jobs at the place where they parliamentary staff were “redacting” the expenses claims.

It doesn’t take a huge intellect to imagine what happened next. People working together become friends, people gossip to their mates. The soldiers got to know what was in the outrageous expense claims. It seems that the country could pay for moats being cleaned and imaginary shelves being put up, but the money ran out when they were being asked to pay for Kevlar ballistic vests, desert boots, gloves or sunglasses. All these things provided for foreign troops.

And so, in trying to keep their expenses secret the MPs inadvertently put them into the hands of people who had the best reason in the world to publicise them. No soldier was involved in the leak, I hasten to add. This was done, it seems, by civilians who had become so incensed by the comparison they were working with daily. The words “hoist” and “petard” spring to mind.

It's nothing to do with the wee ned in the picture (it was happening before his time), but I though people would like to see his wee face.


  1. Hmm well the pot just thickens. So that's the reason for the leaks then ? Well if you upset people then they will only stand for it for so long.

    Okay you wrote that it was not the soldiers who leaked the info but the smile on their faces must had been like a Cheshire cat.

    On the case of the soldiers, what a disgrace it is to treat people like this who are risking everything for this Labour gov. The gov are treating the army like some boy scouts club where they have to earn and pay for equipment.

    Maybe is the UK gov received money for every target our soldier killed then they would be properly kited out.

  2. Spook it is utterly shameful. It appears that the civilain staff were so angry when they saw the comparrison between the situation that their military colleagues were in, compared with the naked greed of our politicians that they had to be calmed down by management.

    I'm not a military type person. I'm a pacifist all the way but, I believe that if we send people to do a job which may involve them getting killed, then we must send them with the proper kit. No matter what it costs. If we can't afford to do that then we should stay at home. Simple.

    For the MPs these poor lads being unkowingly involved in the operation to cover up the expenses was an VERY unhappy co-incidence. But one that will hopefully put a stop of the worst excesses of their thieving, at least for a little while, until it's forgotten.

    Let's not forget that the person who was most involved in the cover up, was by request of the prime minister, ennobled by the Queen and sent to the House of Lords, where he will be able to continue to milk us. Unless of course the Telegraph can be persuaded to do such an expose on their Lordships' House.

  3. Personally, I don't think we should get distracted by this story. I'm a pretty pacifist kinda gal too, but of course it's offensive to everyone when we send our troops out and don't support them, wherever they are, never mind doing jobs no-one understands or supports.

    However, the expenses stuff had to have been seen by and known to many many people before these civilian censors (dinnae use their farcical new word) got their hands on them.

    Seems to me that, knowing the stuff was coming out anyway in July, it made sense to let it out in April, get the voters to do their kicking at the Euro elections, and then forget about it.

    Which we will...

  4. Well Sophia Pangloss, welcome to Munguin's Republic (I'm only the doorman of course; Munguin's having a wee lie down).

    You may be right, but this is coming from the Telegraph who must know the provenance of the material.

    Of course, it could be that that's just where the Telegraph wants us to believe it came from. Lord it's complicated....

    I'm afraid that your last paragraph is spot on. By the time the election comes round it will have faded in the collective memory.

    We need to hope that people will blog like mad about it nearer the time to remind the public just what a bunch of trough guzzlers they are.

  5. What happened to the little scruffy pink Teddy bear?

  6. Tris..

    The news is reporting some high ranking official has left the army because of Labours incompetence..

  7. That's a lovely looking fellow there Tris who is that? Iain Gray??

  8. BoP. Hello mate, how are you doing? The scruffy littel pink teddy bear is now replaced. I'll have you know that Munguin is the only one of his kind, he's a mixture of a penguin and a monkey (weird things go on in Dundee), and I'm reliably informed that he is, as I write, driving down the motorway towards Leith in an armour plated Rolls. Squashing is on the agenda I'm told.....

  9. Spook, I've been asking for ages why senior members of the Army and the other services don't do anything about this situation. It's been said that they are intimidated by ministers.... I think if they can be intimidated by ministers then god help them when they see the enemy.

    In any case the guy you refer to seems to be more concerned with protecting his men than he is about his pension. He is, in his own way, a real hero. I hope other senior men now do the same thing. Some things are more important than pensions.

  10. I don't know Munguin. Who is Iain Gray?

  11. BoP.... Munguin says that he is NOT pink... and asks me to repectfully point out to you that it is the BACKGROUND of his photo which is pinkish. He is white, black and golden.... (there's a lot of gold in Munguin.)

  12. Thank you for the welcome tris, it's nice tae be nice eh?

    Who is Iain Gray anyway? Ah keep hearin the name.

  13. Sophia, No idea. I hear alot about a guy called Spud and and then some about some nut job that throws Nokias for a hobby, but Gray, nah. It'll come to me sometime no doubt.

  14. Tris...

    I think the only reason the Army has not come out in huge numbers to criticize the gov is because we are still at war.

    But i do predict if things don't improve then more will come out and speak up against the gov.

  15. I hope they will Spook. It must be difficult to risk your pension and all that you have spent a whole career working for. In many cases there will be a title for senior officers and a seat in the House of Cobwebs, but we're talking people's lives here.

    I don't know what kind of man can send young lads to be killed knowing that they would have a better chance if they were funded properly... whilst at the same time vast amounts of money are wasted bailing out greedy bastard bankers..