I had actually forgotten that Archbishop Carey was still alive -- well alive enough to write a sermon in this morning's News of the World. His outrage, along with everyone else's, is of course right but permit me not to be surprised at the revelations on MPs' perks. Three simple points are all I can add to the debate. They could have easily been noticed a month, a year, a decade ago, but they weren't.
1. When a system is open to abuse, people will abuse it. Really basic.
2. When a group of people, be they MPs, bankers, Hedge Fund managers, come to believe they are extra special, irreplaceable, in fantastically short supply or whatever, their greed will expand exponentially. This is the City bonus delusion. MPs have fallen guilty of just such hubris. I am so tired of listening to the bleating about politics not being able to attract the right sort of people unless it's very well paid. Bullshit. Do we want a bunch of ever more venal vermin running our politics? And look at the queues of people lining up to be selected in every constituency. Being a member of Parliament is a privilege in itself. Sure it's hard work but MPs aren't the only people who work hard.
3. Lastly there was a time when MPs would have compared themselves with the other public service professionals in their constituencies or even the average voter. Now many consort with the super-rich and over paid. The MPs feel poor and undervalued, hence the "making-up" on expenses. Unfortunately this is just one, small, example of the corrosive social and economic effects of the vast inequalities those self same MPs have been happy to promote.