I like Eric Pickles. He's one of the most competent members of Cameron's team, with a formidable intellect and grasp of policy. He's also the one man who can mastermind a big-bang devolution of government from Whitehall to Town Hall. Eric's Parliamentary expenses claims are relatively modest. His savaging at the hands of the Question Time audience was really more because he was there - he was a lighting rod - rather than because of any personal shortcomings. Almost.
I spent more than three years commuting into London. I had to get up at 4.30 a.m. to catch a 6.00 am train, then another 40 minute trip across London. It was often nine or ten at night before I got home. Eventually I moved here, and luxuriated in the benison of having time, just having time. I was a lot further away than Eric's 37 miles, and had to work five days a week and not three, and for 48 weeks a year and not 30. Every day at Liverpool Street station you can see tens of thousands of commuters spilling into London from further than 37 miles away. Eric's attempt to justify his second home on these grounds went down badly with the audience.
Eric got it in the neck because he represented a political class increasingly out of touch with ordinary voters. Little turds like Maclean. Bent MPs like Harry Cohen and Derek Conway. Naive and stupid MPs like Jacqui Smith and Harriet Harman. With the combined membership of the three main parties down to just 1% of the electorate and both State funding and MPs' increased pay and perks unacceptable to the country's voters in a recession, there's really only one way for the political class to go; a massive clean-up. Imposed from outside, as no-one trusts MPs to do it themselves. A Royal Commission.