It is no compliment to Denis MacShane to say that he did not prolong the agony. Found to have falsified his parliamentary expenses claims, he had a choice between the penalty imposed by the Standards and Privileges Committee – a year's suspension from office – and resignation. He chose the latter, which at least ensures that his constituents will be represented in Parliament, once the by-election has been held. Mr MacShane could also face prosecution; the police are – rightly – looking at the evidence again.
While all this is as it should be, too little attention has been paid to the collateral damage. Not only is Rotherham losing an effective MP, and a doughty campaigner against racism, but Westminster is losing one of its most impassioned and articulate pro-European voices, at a time when they are already few and far between. There is not a little irony in the fact that it was fabricated invoices for travel and activities in Europe that helped to bring Mr MacShane down. In acting as he did, he has damaged the very cause he loved.
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