"We all bear a heavy responsibility for the terrible damage to the reputation of this House. We must do everything we possibly can to regain the trust and confidence of the people."
These words by Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons, were part of his 'apology' this afternoon to a packed Chamber of MPs and could not have contained more truth.
Martin bears a large amount of responsibility for the present crisis in Parliament, after leading the fight to keep details of MPs' expenses secret, We should not, however, forget it was the large number of those who stood listening to him this afternoon and who were supporting calls for him to step down from office, who have actually been exposed for being up to their necks in the pot of gold.
Their response to the present situation is predictable; find a scapegoat and divert the public's attention away from their individual wrongdoing. We must not let that happen.
The culture of excessive claiming has been propogated by MPs of all parties, over a number of years; it is a culture born from greed. They should all have demonstrated better judgement but, instead, they thought of it as their right. It was, therefore, in all their interests to back the Speaker's attempts to block publication of their dubious claims. They are, collectively, responsible for their present circumstances.
That is why it is unfair to try to focus blame and claim a lack of confidence in just one man.
If they really want to do everything possible to regain the trust and confidence of 'the people', they should do the honourable thing and, as one, fall on their individual swords!