Given my love of chocolate, today’s Daily Mirror front page at first made me happy. Four big colour photos of bars of chocolate! And David Cameron in an expenses scandal!
But once I read the story, it quickly became clear David Cameron has done nothing wrong.
He has interns. They get their lunch paid for. The lunches reclaimed and featured in the report were all very modest in their total cost. But – shock! Some interns decide to eat chocolate! Cue Daily Mirror outrage and a quote from the Taxpayers’ Alliance. (Yup, you guessed it – they too were outraged.)
But neither the Mirror not the TPA objected to Cameron employing interns. Or to them eating lunch. Or to them getting their lunch costs back.
No, it was specifically the inclusion of chocolate that the Mirror and TPA object to. Vegetables – no complaint. Chocolate – complaint. 45p on a Galaxy bar gets a front page photo. 45p on a piece of broccoli would have gone without comment.
So the story is really about how the Mirror and Taxpayers’ Alliance are happy not just to criticise the personal diet choices of interns, but think that Parliament’s rules for expenses should forbid certain diet choices.
Just imagine a world in which such micromanagement is let free. After all, why only ban interns from choosing chocolate? There’s other much less healthy food out there. And is a flapjack dipped in chocolate, chocolate or not? Or what about a jaffa cake – chocolate or not? That’d be one fun Parliamentary rule book: “Definitions of chocolate for Parliamentary finance purposes”.
And if such a book was published, what’s the betting the TPA and Mirror would then criticise it as a case of bureaucracy gone mad…?