Peter Hain, Harriet Harman, Gordon Brown, Alan Johnson. It could well be that within a few weeks no fewer than four Cabinet Ministers will be interviewed by the Metropolitan Police. On the face of it you might expect me to be crowing about it from the top of my voice, but I am not. If I thought any of them were actually guilty of actual corruption, then it might be different.
Hain certainly has a case to answer, and is in the biggest trouble, and I suspect he may well be charged with offences under the PPERA 2000. But let's not lose sight of the fact that in most other countries political corruption implies politicians on the take. That's not the case here, and whatever our views on what Hain, Alexander, Harman and Johnson may have done, they're not being accused of trying to profit personally from their various alleged misdemeanours and incompetences. Let's remember that.
But to the general public, various politicians being interviewed by Inspector Knacker means only one thing - that they're just the ones who have been caught. The ones that even bother to look into what they are being accused of may make a differentiation between corruption and incompetence, but they cannot forgive the double standards of a politician who says he did nothing wrong and reckons that filing his returns to the Electoral Commission six months late is OK. They look at him and wonder what planet he lives on as they ponder the consequences of filing their tax returns six days - not six months late.
Politicians of all colours need to realise that they are held in lower public esteem than ever before and they need to react accordingly - not by arguing for higher salaries or allowances, but by addressing the failings of a political system which is becoming unfit for purpose - and by improving their own personal standards of behaviour.
Most politicians I know are in politics for the right reasons, but the few bad apples are allowing the public to believe that they're all the same. Most politicians I know go out of their way for their constituents and have a deep sense of honour. Now is the time for them to go that extra mile in improving the reputation of the whole of the body politic.
UPDATE: Conor Ryan has blogged along similar lines.