Thursday, April 02, 2009
Welcome to the Irfan Ahmed Challenge!
I note that Irfan has sounded off about MP expenses again, challenging our MPs to reduce their expense claims to the average levels of Tory and Labour MPs. Whilst a number of you have commented on his blog, the fact that I would have to register to do so rather put me off. So I am obliged to enter into the fray via this august medium...
My challenge to Irfan is this. Alastair Carmichael claims the highest level of expenses for travel of any Liberal Democrat MP. Can Irfan find the cheapest way of getting from Evie to Westminster that allows Alastair to be present in the Commons chamber for the maximum amount of debating time and allows him the flexibility to change his arrangements without additional cost?
In my experience, statistics offer a mere snapshot of information and provide little context in isolation. It's a bit like trying to identify an elephant through a keyhole. If the elephant is far enough back, it's possible. If the elephant is too close, you can describe what colour it is, but not what it is.
You really need to break down expense figures and analyse each element before you start making sweeping statements condemning a group of people. And then, by all means, attack waste, fraud and greed, but do ask questions first, and shoot later. It's so much more difficult if you do it the other way round...
Posted by Mark Valladares at 2:32 pm