If you live outside the UK you may not have heard about the latest scandal to come out of the Houses of Parliament. At least, I suppose that I'm hoping you haven't. It's all just so... embarrassing. What on earth will people think?
Let's pretend you haven't heard about it. Amazingly enough, it turns out that a large number of our MP's have been fiddling their expenses, some of them in quite a grand and impressive way. Who would have thought it? Politicians? Untrustworthy? Oh dear me, surely not...
But yes. It seems that items like home cinema's have been found to be essential for certain Honourable Members to do their jobs properly, and have been charged back to the tax payer. As have massage chairs, custom-built wooden homes for ducks, renovated moats around manor houses, swimming pool boilers, hanging baskets and pot-plants, £87,000 worth of furniture for one gentleman's London residence, and - oh, the list is endless. And sickening.
Needless to say this has resulted in a great deal of media coverage, and great deal of 'outraged from Purley' type comments from the general public. It has also led to a general air of depression in the House of Commons (poor diddums...), and a vast amount of denial, wispy prevarication, and an increasing amount of blood-letting by the esteemed heads of our major political parties, all of which are equally implicated in this mess.
Isn't it time that this all got sorted out and we moved on? I mean, it's not as if claiming expenses is a practice peculiar to our Parliament; every business in the land has a structure to deal with it, and there are computer programmes out there that are more or less fool-proof. Bin the antiquated system currently in place, prosecute those guilty of fraud, slap the wrists of those Honourable Members who were in fact anything but, remove any chance of their being re-elected, and let's stop all this (self)righteous outrage.
I'm not for a moment suggesting that we should let those guilty beggars off the hook, but whilst all this white noise is going on isn't it distracting us from the fact there are so many other things to get heated about? And for far better reason?
Let's see, just for starters, close to home we have the imbalance in men & women's pay scales as so interestingly discussed by Amity on her Noble Savage blog recently. We have the parlous state of our National Health Service. We have the fact that there are three million children living in poverty in Great Britain. THREE MILLION! And we like to think we're a first world country.
Further afield girls are being murdered in Afghanistan for having the temerity to go to school. Women who have the courage to stand up to rapists in Pakistan are prevented from speaking out about their experiences if their attackers are - in extremely rare cases - convicted. In China parents have been sold formula milk so polluted that their babies are disfigured and handicapped for life. Children orphaned or separated from the parents in war zones across the world are prey to all sorts of horrific predators. And so on...
So yes, be cross. Be angry about what's happened in parliament. Get it changed. But let's not forget that whilst our MP's bleat about their poor level of renumeration (which, by they way, they may have a point about - but which doesn't mean claiming for a bathplug is acceptable) there are things going on in the world that are far more deserving of being the subject of our outrage.
Fluffy bunnies and potty training will return tomorrow...