Culled from today's papers:
I returned on Thursday to find my country in one of its periodic fits of moral horror. At such times, witches have been burnt, monkeys hanged as French spies and Catholics hounded out of office.
Government fears cutting spending in a meaningful way because of the impact that would have on its own clientele. There is a pretence that all public spending is a good in itself, and that only social harm can come of reducing it.
Should you seek further evidence of why that is nonsense, just look again at how your hard-earned money is being spent by Members of Parliament. The other good that must come out of this disgusting scandal is that the microscope now needs to be applied to everything else the state does, to see how much more of our money is being wasted, and could instead be taken off the total deficit.
The "political class" which most of us heartily dislike is not an accident. Commentators rightly note that all parties have colluded in the creeping growth of perks and allowances, which goes back, in relation to second homes, to Edward Heath's Tory government in 1971. But the big money in this game only began under New Labour. It is only since 1997 that property fortunes have been made through taxpayer largesse.
The reason for this is that Labour really does believe in a political class. It thinks that having lots of full-time politicians paid lots by the state is good for them and good for the rest of us. It thinks that if they are paid by the state they will not be corrupt, and that, government being a self-evident good, it is better to have more of it.
Another false argument is being made – that the House of Commons is hopelessly out of date, and that all its "fusty" traditions need to be cast aside. Actually, it is the best tradition of Parliament – that being an MP is a greater thing than being a minister – that has been ditched. We do not want a revolution, but a restoration.
"There's more blood on our carpet than Labour's," one Tory aide reassured me yesterday. It was a revealing comment. Yes, the public does want blood over the expenses scandal. But do they really want the heads of MPs to be chopped off in such an arbitrary way?
In the summer of 1944, during the Normandy invasion, surely the nation was proud of its leaders? Not really. Gallup had the effrontery to ask what voters thought of their politicians, and even then only 36 percent thought them to be acting for the good of the country, while 57 percent thought they acted only for their own or their party's interest.
Britain has always held its politicians in low esteem.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph's editor, Will Lewis, says he understands the strain that MPs are under, and it's not his intention to make the process difficult. But it's the paper's job to meet the public interest and get the facts out, and his teams are moving as fast as they can. There are 45 journalists working full-time on the story.
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It all makes work for the working man to do!