Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meetings are usually drab affairs. The leader turns up, listens to a few grumbles from backbench MPs, a few reporters hang around outside hoping to grab a half-decent quote and in the end a Labour apparatchik puts a rose-tinted spin on proceedings.
The scandal engulfing British members of parliament over their often startling expenses claims has started to bring down some prominent victims: the speaker of the House of Commons, two Labour Party MPs and four from the Conservatives at time of writing.
Begrimed by the scandal over their petty expense claims, MPs have fallen so low in the public’s esteem as to displace even bankers and journalists from their usual ranking as the dregs of society.
In what turned out to be something of an anti-climactic announcement, House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin has said that he will step down on June 21.
The shockwaves reverberating through Westminster as the MPs’ expenses scandal unfolds have been compared with the “Clean Hands” bribery scandal that effectively demolished Italy’s post-war political establishment in the space of a couple of years in the early 1990s.