Happily, I have never lived in a totalitarian state. But this week I was given an insight into what it must have been like in the dark days of East European Communism to receive the infamous knock on the door from those delightful individuals who once did the dirty work of the Stasi and the KGB.Oh, my!
Did someone knock down his door, intimidate his family, drag him off to a secret interrogation room somewhere, never to be seen again? What horrors can have befallen the poor man?
In my case, it came in the form of an email from the Daily Telegraph, informing me that I had "questions to answer" about my living arrangements in London in the three years after I was elected to Parliament in 2005.An email? Asking perfectly legitimate questions about his expenses? Expenses paid for from public money?
My conscience was perfectly clear, and after reading the "accusations", I knew there was nothing for which I had to answer and duly contacted the reporter to explain the situation.
Cancel the pity party!
But frankly, I might not have bothered. Sadly, such is now the Telegraph's thirst and hunger for making mischief since obtaining the records of MPs' expenses, that it has long since abandoned the idea of fair and honest reporting.Funny, I didn’t hear a peep out of you about this when it was Labour or Lib Dem MPs on the rack…
.. now the newspaper has turned it into a McCarthyite witch-hunt for the sake of a circulation increase. It is doing the reputation of British journalism a lot of damage.Mmmm, you’re really concerned with some fictitious ‘damage’ you claim is being done to journalism, I’m sure. And not at all concerned at the very real damage being done to the reputation of MPs!
Oh, and you might want to steer clear of using McCarthy in the pejorative sense, since history proved him right about the ‘Reds under the beds’…
I phoned the reporter, and began to explain the situation, but it did not take me more than a few seconds to realise that she had no intention of engaging in a fair and proper conversation. She – or rather the Telegraph's newsdesk – had already decided that they were going to run a story about me and whatever I said was not going to change that. Her attitude was aggressive and sometimes downright rude, and it left a sour taste once I put the phone down.Oh, you mean, you thought you try to persuade them that ‘these aren’t the expenses you’re looking for’, but your Jedi mind tricks didn’t work over the phone, eh?
Still, maybe it’s not your fault? Maybe someone told you it was ok and…
Well, of course:
I had cleared my living arrangements with the Fees Office at Parliament, and then the rules changed, so I had to move out, though I appealed against the changes before I did so.You admit you were desperate to hang on to the cash so you appealed against the changes? That’s not helping your argument, is it…?
…this has gone too far, and it is about time someone stood up to them. They have taken it upon themselves to become judge and jury, without any thought to seeking the truth before they publish.They did seek the truth, though, didn’t they? Have you forgotten?
They emailed you, you explained, and they decided your explanation wasn’t good enough, and they’d let the people decide. You know, the people whose money it was.
Hey, if it’s not the truth, as you claim, sue them Brian.
That’s your prerogative, after all.
It reminds me of Rudyard Kipling's famous quote for Stanley Baldwin: "What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, and power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages."You know, of all the many, many comments that induce vomiting in this shabby little whinge, this one takes the biscuit!
That Brian Binley MP, who voted moderately for a smoking ban despite MPs having exemption from it, should seek to criticise someone else for desiring ‘power without responsibility’ is beyond belief…