We have had "it was all within the rules", then "it was all cleared with the Fees Office". Now we are being told that MPs have been suffering from "lapses" of judgement, no doubt there will soon be the confessions that they were struck by "moments of madness".
On the whole I am well aware of human frailties and sympathetic. Of course we all make mistakes. But for years now citizens have been suffering from an onslaught of bossy, punitive government and other authority. In its predatory way excuses are not accepted. We are continually reprimanded and usually fined -- for late tax returns, by speed cameras, for not displaying parking permits on the "right" side of the windscreen. Petty bureaucrats proclaim zero tolerance on all manner of misdemeanours. You are too fat to foster a child, you stole some sweets when you were a kid, even though you are an Old Age Pensioner you can't buy booze without ID. Try asking for clemency here, try proffering simple human error, try explaining your momentary lapse of judgement, try common sense... The citizen has to be perfect under the tyranny of ever more dysfunctional authority. And I haven't even touched on the many more serious incursions on our civil rights and freedoms that we cede every year.
MPs have willingly overseen this sea change in the relationship between state and citizen under Major, Blair and Brown. Why should we forgive them?