OK, OK, I know I promised not to write about expenses related stories today, but I can hardly not write about the latest news, can I?
As you might guess I am very sad that Julie Kirkbride has announced she is stepping down at the next election. Let's not bother rehearsing all the pros and cons of her case - that's been done to death on here over the past 24 hours. I have no regrets in speaking out in her defence on the blog and on the media, but it was clear yesterday where this whole saga was heading. Time after time, we've seen that where a media head of steam has built up, it's impossible to overcome it. You may think it was fully deserved in Julie's case. I happen to think there were more deserving cases for media attention than hers. But that's politics, and that's the media and there's little point in whinging about it.
So what implications does this have? I think most people will see that if MPs have to stand down for alleged impropriety there are better candidates than Julie Kirkbride. But they are still in place.
Most of my friends, and all of my family keep asking me one question: why on earth would you want to be an MP if you are treated like this? They all think I am barking mad. And increasingly, I am wondering if they might have a point. I'm no different to most people who consider going into politics. You do it for a number of reasons - partly out of a wish to perform some sort of public service, but also because you see things you think are wrong and want to change, and realise you can't do that by writing a blog. And also because you have the somewhat arrogant belief that maybe, just maybe, you could do it better than those who have made such a mess of things in the past. If you do it for the money, you really are doing it for the wrong reasons.
But think of a forty year old woman with a couple of kids, who is thinking about going into politics. Think how this episode will affect her thought process. Julie Kirkbride quit, at least in part, over her child minding arrangements. She wanted her brother to be a child minder rather than a stranger. Who wouldn't? It didn't cost the taxpayer a penny, and yet she's been made out to look as if she has fleeced the taxpayer. No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this.
Think about that.