But tellingly, she was supported in all this by her opposition colleagues on the Question Time panel. First by the brunette-bonking comet-dodging weirdo Lembit Opik, who expected you to pay his police fines. And also by the Tory’s Cheryl Gillan, who expected you to pay for her bloody dog food. For her dogs, not for her. She doesn’t eat dog food, at least not in public. The dogs are now dead, by the way, so that should save us a few bob. Anyway, they were all agreed, these three – Smith, Opik, Gillan – that the expenses business was a real scandal, quite disgraceful, really can’t carry on like this any more, how we have all let you, the voters, down. But they cheerfully exculpated each other from individual blame, suggesting that the fault lay purely in the system. No need for further recrimination on an individual basis: hey, we’ve seen enough, it’s grim – but for the good of democracy, let’s move on, no?
This is the way it is going. I remember two Tory MPs talking (privately) in the summer about how grotesque this public outrage about expenses was and how they needed to “circle the wagons”. Well, the wagons have been well and truly circled. Circled around Tony McNulty, for a start; the former minister at the department for work and pensions fibbed about his second home too – he said it was where his parents lived and claimed more than £70,000 from the taxpayer to subsidise their housing. He has been asked to pay back £13,000 because the Commons authorities – with the same generosity they showed to Mrs Smith – accepted he stayed at his mum and dad’s house sometimes. About one night in five, according to Mr McNulty’s own records. And if you believe those you’ll believe anything. He doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong; not technically, not morally, not legally. Are you waiting for the first prosecution, or maybe even the first de-selection? Don’t hold your breath. They have managed to spin this whole business into a strange and surreal place where Jacqui Smith and Tony McNulty are the victims, rather than you.