MPs’ expenses continue to fascinate the British media and public alike. Every autumn, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) publishes a detailed breakdown of the House of Commons MPs’ expenses for the year, and news outlets rush to publish their analyses of this data. Tabloids (e.g. Daily Record) as well as broadsheets and magazines (The Guardian, The Economist) create rankings or tools that allow users to compare MPs’ expenses and single out big spenders. Such efforts are contextualised by the inveterate public ire over perceived excesses, exacerbated by the on-going austerity measures and a culture of ‘naming and shaming’. But most of these comparisons are highly problematic because they fail to provide important contextual information, simply comparing MPs’ total expenses (overall …
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