Saturday, 30 May 2009

MPs' expenses scandal boosts local press

The scandal of MPs' expenses has prompted a resurgance in the popularity and power of local newspapers, writes Andrew Pierce in the Daily Telegraph today.
Sales of many papers are up as they hold local MPs to account and their letters pages and websites are experiencing their biggest reaction for decades, Pierce claims.
The Daily Telegraph notes: The Norwich Evening News ran a hard-hitting front page editorial after Ian Gibson, a local Labour MP, allowed his daughter to live rent free in his London flat, which was financed on his expenses. He later sold it to her at a vastly reduced price.
Christopher Fraser, the Tory MP for South West Norfolk, who is standing down after he claimed £1,800 for perimeter fencing for his garden, was subjected to withering criticism in an editorial in the Eastern Daily Press.
In Corby the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph ran an additional six letters pages in one week after it was disclosed that Phil Hope, the town’s Labour MP, had claimed tens of thousands of pounds on his London flat. Mr Hope later pledged to repay £41,000.
I've noticed that where the local press has scored is by comparing the often widely different claims from MPs in adjacent constituencies. For an example, coverage by the County Times in mid-Wales.

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