It wasn't surprising to discover that the staff doling out MPs' expenses have been viciously abused for monitoring more closely what our elected representatives are spending now.
Firstly, don't shoot the messenger; I mean, it's damn tempting to explode with fury every time you have to try to make yourself understood to some phone-jockey going by the name of 'John' down a faint line to Hyderabad, but then it's not really his fault, he's just doing his job. It's the penny-pinchers in charge of BT, The Trainline or most high street banks who have inflicted this situation upon us. It's much the same with MPs' expenses. There's little point in parliamentarians raging at office juniors who are administrating the system that was demanded by an appalled British public, who actually had a reason to be outraged.
The stories in The Telegraph, revelations in the Guy Fawkes blog and some of our Don't Panic stunt films (one of which resulted in MP Alan Duncan being sacked from the Tory frontbench), fanned the flames of a scandal that still taints politicians from all parties today. Recent revelations in The Evening Standard indicate that MPs feel hard done-by, rather than feeling penitent and ashamed of their scrounging. Members of the Parliamentary Standards Authority were called "monkeys", "f***ing idiots" and were reduced to tears by the behaviour of some MPs. There are signs up in stations, Job Centres and Post Offices across the land stating 'Don't Abuse Our Staff' to remind drunk and/or lunatic members of the public not to insult people who are just doing their jobs. Our elected officials probably don't like it when constituents visit their offices and hurl insults at them and should try and remember how it feels.
On the plus side, if the MPs are enraged the system seems to be working, and they're sharing a percentage of the pain being inflicted on the rest of the country. Cuts cause pain, some of which seems to be deserved, some of which seems unjustified and unfair.
An example of the former and an organisation begging for a swift cutting was the UK Film Council. Recently abolished by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Quango fought a rearguard action to save its own bloated hide by using your taxes and lottery money to rope in Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg to say it may be a bad idea. Well, it was good to hear from two cash-strapped British film makers on why this organisation needed saving, thanks dudes! Despised by most film makers and the British Film Institute for profligate spending (75 employees were paid between £70,000 and £150,000 and they all had an MP-like attitude to expenses; always flying first class and staying five star; upon being warned to tighten their belts they made the bold move of setting an upper limit on wine of £26 per bottle), it had to go. UKFC, you were an expensive mistake that once again reinforced the belief held by people like George Osborne and Vince Cable that only business can deliver efficiency and results.
George and Vince's beliefs also led to the aforementioned unjustified and unfair sort of cutting that means tax breaks for the big boys and benefit cuts for the poor, according to Britain's leading independent tax experts The Institute For Fiscal Studies. The respected think tank said George and Vince's budget was "clearly regressive" and likely to "hit the poorest households more than those in the upper middle of the income distribution in cash, let alone in percentage terms." This contrasts starkly with their treatment of the mega rich, like Topshop owner Philip Green, who has been invited by David Cameron to lead the government's Whitehall cost-cutting drive. Technically his wife owns his business and she is safely tucked away in tax haven Monaco, ensuring that they pay less tax (in percentage terms) than the average and poorer people targeted by the government.
If cuts must be made let's ensure they're aimed at those for whom 'free for those that can afford it' applies and not average families who don't know the meaning of the term 'expense account'.