The Sun attacks Andy Burnham for claiming £39 on petrol over 4 years

Newspaper 'exposes' Labour leader hopeful's tiny claim... which is allowed by MPs' rules

Andy Burnham Sun 16 7 15


Today’s Sun contains what must be the first ‘expenses scandal’ story to expose an MP for claiming very small amounts of money.

The paper reports Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham claimed a staggering £39.18 over the past four years to reimburse his petrol costs when using his own car for official business.

This breaks down as 63 claims of less than £1 each.

Burnham full page Sun 16 7 15

As the story notes, MPs can claim 45p per mile when using their own cars for work. Apparently ‘tight-fisted Andy’ (their words):

“…made two separate claims for 22p and a third for 27p after driving 0.6 miles in his constituency of Leigh, Gtr Manchester.”

22p sounds like half of 45p, so that’s about right. And of the 63 claims, 53 were were for 45p (one mile).

As the story also notes, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority said Burnham’s claims are within MPs expenses rules.

So… what’s the story?

The angle appears to be that other leadership candidates have not claimed these tiny travel expenses, so Burnham must be abnormally stingy and money-grabbing, (qualities you’d think the Osborne-fancying Sun would appreciate).

But if the rules allow him to claim this amount for use of his own car, then the Sun’s real gripe is with the parliamentary rules, not Burnham.

Perhaps the paper could use its influence to campaign for a reform of these rules, if it feels so strongly? (No such call for reform features in today’s paper.)

The emphasis is interesting. This story, about an MP claiming less than £40, takes up a whole page in the Sun. 

Meanwhile, the same paper cheers on the chancellor as he looks to cut £12 billion from the welfare budget, and it appears to have no interest in the £93 billion the government spends on welfare for corporations, via direct grants and tax breaks.

Has the Sun got its binoculars the wrong way round? or both contact lenses in one eye?

Or perhaps it hopes to shape readers’ opinions before Labour has even chosen a new leader.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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5 Responses to “The Sun attacks Andy Burnham for claiming £39 on petrol over 4 years”

  1. stevep

    Whenever there`s something the right-wing establishment want to hide, the Tory rags willingly oblige.
    They largely kept the banking scandal off the front pages with co-ordinated stories on MP`s expenses which ran and ran and was hardly significant news.
    The Tory assault on the poor revealed now the budget is unravelling, Cameron`s red face having withdrawn the hunting bill amendment – all need keeping off the front pages. Cue the Andy Burnham story.
    It serves two purposes: The aforementioned cover-up and the usual attack by Tory papers on anyone left of Attila the Hen likely to gain power.
    Let the rags have their mucky rants, they`re in terminal decline and they know it.
    The Internet and social media is the future. Let`s use it to redress the balance.

  2. blarg1987

    Be interesting to know what expenses the person who wrote the article has incurred on consumers of the newspaper.

  3. James Eyre

    Never look directly at The Sun.

  4. Kevin Turvey

    Ironically Andy Burnham’s £39 over four years for petrol is exactly the same amount Iain Duncan Smith claimed for one breakfast.

  5. Ray McHale

    Nevertheless, an MP who earns £67k taking the time, and making the effort to claim 22p, raises concerns with me. it shows they intend to get every penny they are entitled to from the system. To my mind it is a legitimate issue to publicise. It adds to the story that he owns a flat near parliament which he rents out, so that he can live somewhere else and claim the rent on that flat from Tax Payers.

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