The Sketch: It's enough to make you feel sorry for them...

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The Independent Online

She'd been called a thief by an elector in her constituency, "and if I'd been a man I would have punched him in the face because I'm not a thief!" No, but Anne Clwyd would have been guilty of assault, affray – and ABH if she was any good at punching.

It can be hard to maintain sympathy with MPs on the expenses issue; they emerge from the worst scandal in a century and immediately start claiming for – I don't know – payments on the African babies they're renting "for constituency purposes", and punching constituents who call them names.

However, in the spirit of public service she named, under privilege, the person at IPSA she believed guilty of offering to leak "the juicy bits" of the new expenses – the director of communications at IPSA.

Maybe the young woman will have been resigned by the time you read this, with severance pay, a relocation package and a place directing communications for the Commission for Standards in Public Life. What, in parenthesis, is IPSA doing with a director of communications? And why are they paying the best part of half a million quid for offices?

Boy, MPs hate IPSA. Roger Gale said the old Fees Office staff had been drawn in and demoralised by "a climate of mistrust inculcated and imposed by the chairman and interim chief executive". And if they achieve their aims they will produce a parliamentary population of "junior anoraks with no experience of life, or the very, very rich".

From stories you hear, there is indeed something abusive about the way IPSA conducts its business. They tell MPs how many times they can visit their constituency. They turn down claims for ordinary office equipment. They make life very difficult for family life – especially for younger mothers.

They also pay in arrears, so MPs suddenly might have to arrange an overdraft of £10,000 to run their office. "You've got plenty of money, you're an MP," IPSA staff are reported to have said, "pay for it yourself."

It is the revenge of the mandarins; it has a punitive element in it that is as offensive as duck houses. Adam Afriyie pitched for the debate to the new Backbench Business Committee – and produced to an appreciative House a cunning argument, and a plausible strategy.

It wasn't about MPs and their difficulties, he said. It was about us, constituents, voters, taxpayers, democracy. It's an audacious line but it has a chance. His offer is that IPSA produces a streamlined version of itself by 30 April or Parliament will legislate for it. And maybe there's a chance of that as well.

If you take MPs' accounts of it, IPSA is Gordon Brown's last bequest. Bureaucratic, expensive, cumbersome, self-righteous and vindictive. It's a last whiff of sulphur.