Whenever CF hears of people committing frauds and other self-enriching crimes being punished, their punishment is not only jail or a fine: they usually have to pay back what they stole.
It strikes CF that this is a perfect opportunity for MP's to redeem themselves (well at least partially: we'll never really like you much). But, MP's, you're all a bit hard of hearing, apparently, so we're going to give you some loud, clear directions.
We're going to start a campaign - the PAY IT BACK campaign - you're going to do what we tell you to.
So here's what you're going to do, troughers. Go through all your paperwork; go through the shoeboxes full of receipts; go through what the Daily Telegraph has already published (or could yet publish) about you; gather it all together, and prepare for a long evening with a calculator. Or a spreadsheet. Bet we bought you a laptop recently.
Decide which claims you're completely comfortable with, and which now make you feel (or should make you feel) gut-churningly ashamed. Now add up the claims you now realise were not morally right (fuck whether they were "within the rules" or not - it seems everything is).
Now you've got a total - quite a large one, for some of you - of expenses you know in your heart you shouldn't have claimed. Even if "everyone else was"; even if it was "within the rules".
Make out a cheque for that amount, and pay it back.
Some of these cheques might be quite large. You'll have to do what the rest of us do when we suddenly need a large amount of money: you might have to get a loan; you might perhaps re-mortgage one of your houses, or even - oh dear - sell one. You might have to trade down to a smaller car. Your partner might have to get a job. Tough shit.
When the cheque has cleared (not before - we don't trust you that much), announce to your constituents and to your local press (national press for Cabinet/Shadow Cabinet) exactly how much you paid back, how much you kept and what your reasons were.
Then we'll all know exactly what kind of an MP and person you are, how we feel about you specifically (rather than the troughing class as a whole) and whether we'll let you keep your job. The 'Court of Public Opinion', if you will.
Feel free to pay nothing back at all, as long as you're prepared to stand up in public and announce why you - you personally, not your party, not MP's generally - are not going to give a penny back. Feel free to pay it all back just for good publicity even though you secretly don't think you should - at least we'll have our money back. Pay back as little, or as much, as you're willing to justify personally.
But for fucks sake, get on with it. We're watching you. We're going to Twitter you, and Facebook you, and MySpace you and Blog about you. If you don't know what any of that is, then we'll buy some stamps and fucking write to you. When this campaign gets some legs, you'd better to be one of the first on their hind legs waving a big cheque, not the last.
All together now: "PAY IT BACK ... PAY IT BACK ... PAY IT BACK ...."
UPDATE: its starting: according to Guido Fawkes, Margaret Moran is paying back 22.5 grand for her "dry rot". Come on the of rest you: PAY IT BACK
UPDATE 2: well done, Dave, that's the idea
UPDATE 3: well done, Hazel Blears - you've got the hang of it.
(Hat tip to Mark Thompson at Mark Reckons, who also suggests tagging Twitter tweets with "#Payitback".)
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