Friday, June 19, 2009

A Guardian opportunity to annotate Those Claims and avoid the oboe-player joke 

The Guardian is linking up all the MPs expenses claims and receipts to a special tool which allows web users to highlight and comment on each and every page of claims and receipts. They ask us to ferret out points that need further investigation. This of course also gives MPs or their staff the opportunity to access the same online tool and add notes to any page so that obscure entries are clarified.

Having glanced through several entries from MPs of all parties I would say such annotation is very much needed, and that is assuming everything is completely above board. Especially needed where the inept blacking out simply leaves us with no clue as to what the claim was for.

So what about it for our MPs? After all if we had a proper publication of proper accounts there would be notes to various items putting them into context - standard accounting practice.

The masking out really is a stupid nuisance. The effect is rather like the story of the music reviewer who wrote of one orchestral performance

'The Oboe player spent the whole evening gazing at his navel'

The sub-editors objected, saying it was a crude line please change it.

So the reviewer did and it was printed as:

'The oboe player spent the whole evening gazing at his *****'

Not quite the effect intended.

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