Thank you internet! Or more specifically I think we need to thank the ever-brilliant mySociety and other grassroots organisations. Parliament wanted to vote to ensure that MPs could conceal their expenses from the public (i.e. the people who pay for them) but the vote has now been cancelled. I’m not sure if MPs are aware of the irony of such secrecy. In a period when ID cards, national databases and cameras on every corner are being forced upon us by the government, those in power don’t even want us to see how they are spending our money! Hell; we may not trust them but at least we don’t suspect them of being terrorists, as they do to us.
Anyway, the vote was cancelled in part due to a huge internet campaign that let MPs know how unpopular this was. This is great news for anyone with a passing interest in living in a modern transparent democracy.
The argument made by Harriet Harman that publishing all 1.2 million receipts would have created “a blizzard of information at great expense” is again, an ironic one (given the massive cost of the national big brother database) and one that shows an ignorance to the possibilities of web and technology in general. Again, the web as a tool to ‘rally the troops’ has, like the Obama campaign, shown itself to have a positive effect on real democracy and the important freedom of information campaign.