There are always all sorts of bizarre petitions calling on politicians to do this, that and the other. By and large, politicians tend to ignore them.
But the petition calling for Maria Miller to pay back £45,000 in expenses claims or resign has managed to garner 70,131 signatures since it was set up on 4 April. Again, politicians could ignore this. It’s just a bit more difficult to do so when it was David Cameron himself who said that his chief whip should use a ‘smell test’ to see whether the expenses claims were justifiable in the court of public opinion, as well as to the letter of the rules. Thus the court of public opinion should carry a bit more weight. As James said earlier, some MPs have been surprised and dismayed by the way this court is currently passing judgement. But the current stance of the Tory leadership is to ignore something it once professed to abide by.