I feel I've gone over to the dark side. When MPs talk about Kelly – and they do so in terms varying from the Corinthian to the cuneiform – my head starts nodding in a sympathetic, bedside way. No doubt it all had to happen and it should never have come to this but the cure may yet prove to be worse than the disease.
Just when you thought the reputation of Parliament couldn't get any lower, along came Kelly (it's Gordon's fault – but you knew that). Something terrible has happened, we haven't felt the scale of it yet. In this latest development MPs have admitted, or confessed, or declared to the world that they're irredeemably dishonest. They can't help themselves. They are institutionally corrupt. That's what they're telling us.
They are heaping this enormous public humiliation on themselves in order to "rebuild trust". But it's an odd way of doing it, telling us how untrustworthy they are. "We are incapable of resisting the temptation to lie, cheat, twist and steal – but we have the honesty to admit it!"
Do you feel trust rebuilding yet?
They have done it to themselves – voting themselves that damned "communications allowance" on top of everything else. But what the Government has done with their wretched new authority is the apotheosis of their suffocating administrative method. More rules, more regulations, more restrictions, less trust, less initiative, less personal responsibility, less morality, more compliance.
Compliance! (Gurgling cries, scrabbling at the chest.) Where there are rules MPs will find a way to bend, break or transgress them. The Wintertons have already found a way round the renting requirement – they put their property into a trust and rented it from themselves.
Patrick Cormack made an artful point, so artful it had to be made twice before Harriet understood it. If the new independent authority is actually to be independent it can only "take Kelly as an agenda, not as a prescription". Could the Commons then have a "take-note" debate to elucidate the issues?
No, no, no, Harriet said. And then she said maybe.
There's any amount that could yet go wrong. Mark Durkan said "new anomalies" were waiting to be uncovered. He must be right. George Young hinted that the new arrangements might well turn out more expensive than the current arrangements. True, a 60-mile taxi ride late at night could be £150.
The answer must lie somewhere in putting things on the internet and letting MPs regulate their behaviour depending on how their constituents react.
And they might then start taking the same attitude with us in the laws they pass. And we might be able to take a friend's child by the hand and walk him home without an authorising form signed in advance by a parent and a supervising official and a criminal records check.Reuse content