So Parliament has finally published the data on MPs’ allowances. Except, of course, that it hasn’t, really. Here’s an example: a part of the ‘return’ for Margaret Moran, the MP for Luton South:
Note that there’s no way of determining where her second home is. It’s the same story as one wades through her ‘receipts’. For example:
The more I look at this stuff, the more I appreciate how much old-style journalistic digging the Telegraph did. Knowing the address of Moran’s second home was just the starting point. So to denounce the Telegraph revelations as mere ‘cheque-book journalism’ is spectacularly to miss the point.
Oddly enough, this is also a case where networked journalism would have worked — if the data had been out there in non-censored form then we could have crowd-sourced the investigation of individual MPs.
UPDATE: The Guardian is already crowdsourcing the job. I’ve just spent a happy hour poring through the expenses returns of Ben Wallace, the Tory MP for Lancaster and Wyre. Wonder why he spends so much money on (a) IT services and (b) ‘executive’ cars.