"We saw this with the twilight of the Tory years too - only these revelations were more sexy and interesting. Thankfully I don't live in London so I haven't disappeared into the Westminster-media navel-gazing loop that some of y'all live in but doesn't it work something like this: you stay in power too long, you expose yourself to this type of revelation because a) you've made too many enemies, b) as your power visibly fades, those in a position to leak lose any interest in loyalty to their political masters, assuming that they won't be the masters for much longer?"
I'd go along with that. A few years ago, a political scientist (it's his day-job) I know said to me that politics is a lot more boring and straightforward than you think. His gist was that the public don't care about politics half as much as the political class think they do.
The critical voters - the ones whose change-of-heart decides an election - are often motivated less by any strong feelings about policies or the conduct of the government, and more by a simple decision (taken fairly lightly) that 'it's time for the other lot to have a go'.
I dimly remember another writer (was it Gerry Stoker?) saying something about how there is a fair amount of evidence showing that when you iron out the kinks, governments generally lose 1% of their voters each year as part of the process outlined above and that it's a good thing because their fitness for government wanes as they lose touch with the public.
All of this is, on my part, completely unscientific, but it reflects my prejudices. I mention this because another one of my prejudices is that people who work in politics or write about it, massively magnify the public's response to the subject.
Many times over the past few weeks I've seen politicos and hacks talking about how 'people are furious with us.'
I really don't think this is the case. They are, for the most part, annoyed about something that they don't really care about very much. Those that do say they are furious would be furious anyway. Like Shuggy's republicans who want the Queen opening Parliament in a tracksuit, people who hate politicians in general have placed themselves at the front of an imaginary army Whose Day Has Come.
And on issues like this, newspapers can play a huge role. They can switch the music in a way that will probably benefit UKIP in June (and may have unintended consequence of benefiting the BNP as well).
And while I really think that Gordon Brown's leadership in recent months has been appalling, I similarly doubt if that soap-style narrative that obsesses Westminster types really makes much difference in the long run.
I suspect that, when the dust settles, the over-riding '1% disillusion a year' pattern will continue to assert itself until there is a change of government.
One final thing: I'm firmly of the view that this expenses storm is over-stated, that there is something of a reasonable explanation for a lot of claims that seem superficially evil. There's clearly a culture in Westminster that has grown up over time, and has been actively nurtured by staff in the Fees Office - that has been exposed in a way that reflects very badly on MPs. I'm also of the view that the the whole question of transparency has to be viewed through the filter of it's assynchronous nature - a point that Stephen Fry and George Foulkes makes about journalists and that Tom P regularly makes about company directors and shareholders.
All of that said, some of the fiddles really have pointed to a handful if sleazy shifty bastards who deserve to be chucked out by their constituency parties. Both Labour and the Tories have a few - and I hope they get deselected.
I'd like to see more politicians deselected more often - not on matters of policy, but on their character, their conduct and their willingness to be flexible, conversational and vaguely human.
I'd love the professional politicans - people with no real background outside the Balliol >>> think-tank >>> safe-seat gravy train to get chucked aside and replaced by people with a record of activity in local government and their constituency parties.
Anything that chucks out a few professional politicians will not be entirely a bad thing.