I see that some MPs are thinking about refusing to refund money that Sir Thomas Legg reckons has been overpaid to them. I can see why they are angry, and why they think they are being unfairly treated. It can be said that Sir Thomas is 'changing the rules' retrospectively. It can also be said that he's not. As is so often the case, one's view is influenced by where one stands. He is putting actual figures on what was no more than a 'reasonableness' test when the claims were actually made. And what is 'reasonable' is subjective. But none of this matters anyway.
The reality is that the public are simply not willing to listen. They are so angry about individual cases of abuse, and the determined effort to keep everything hushed up, that there is not a smidgen of sympathy out there. The only way to have tackled this issue, was ready, voluntary, and complete disclosure, followed by a General Election to allow voters their say. Fairness just doesn't come into it. It's totally irrelevant.
Yet again David Cameron has quickly identified the only acceptable response. He has made it clear that any Conservative MP who does not repay money that Sir Thomas Legg recommends will not be allowed to stand as a Conservative candidate at next year's General Election. Full stop. Now, that's what I call decisive. So what are the other party leaders saying. Not sure about Gordon Brown, but Harriet Harman point blank refused to answer the question about whether Labour refuseniks will be allowed to stand (several times) when put to her by Peter Allen on Drive tonight. And Nick Clegg has only been willing to say that he expects all his MPs to co-operate fully. That's dodging the question as well. Hmmm. Interesting.
What matters most is the bigger picture. The future of our democracy is in under threat. Fair or not, every MP should repay in full all that Sir Thomas Legg recommends. This whole issue has wrought awful damage on our electoral system, and this is just one minimum step to repairing it. An early General Election is the next.