Like any sensible person I’ve been thoroughly amused and appalled by the scandal of MPs expenses. Appalled because the extent of MPs’ avarice is sufficient to shock even an iron-souled cynic; amused because watching MPs try to justify their gluttonous appetite for taxpayer-funded freebies affords a certain pleasure that one might consider vindictive if only it weren’t so entirely merited. This isn’t a tragedy, it’s a stinking farce.
The dreary pretense – duly repeated by every sticky-fingered parliamentarian – that it is all ok because “no rules were broken” could hardly be more priceless. Nor could it do more to underline the essential fact that these people are fools who in turn treat the public as though they are fools themselves. Only the blindest dolt would think that boasting of obeying the rules might minimise the public’s entirely-justified sense of outrage (a wrath that is, I suspect, under-appreciated at Westminster and in the media) when it is the laxness of the rules themselves that occasions so much incredulity and anger.
For it is now clear, if it weren’t before, that we are governed by a parliament of thieves for whom no expense is too small or too trivial to be borne by the taxpayer. These knaves and charlatans are strangers to shame and decency. Astonishingly, they make journalists and estate agents seem paragons of probity by comparison. Who’d have thunk that possible?
In a startlingly complacent and tendentious editorial (thoughtfully brought to my attention by Mr Eugenides) the Times claimed that “only an idiot” would enter parliament “in order to get rich”. Logically, then, parliament is stocked with even more idiots than you might have thought since, whatever else it is, life at Westminster seems a very good way of becoming pretty rich indeed.
MPs may be paid more poorly than many newspaper columnists but they still make rather more than rather more than 90% of the population.