Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke has told the BBC recent events have made him "ashamed" to be a Labour MP.
Shame? They feel no shame. After all if Jacqui Smith can get away with it so blatantly, why should they care? Dip in boys seems to be the attitude. Those with slim majorities are filling their boots while they can whilst those in the "safe seats" know that the type of people that always vote the same way will mean they'll be back for another five years of legalised thieving.
They know the party system will protect them when they get caught with their fingers in the till. Notice how the opposition parties didn't exactly go for the jugular in the Mastur-Gate affair? They've got their own skeletons in the cupboard after all. No, the media will expose a few and the party will close ranks. Have you heard a whisper about anyone being thrown out of their party for fiddling expenses? No, nor I.
Mind you, Europe is no better. One MEP actually got 9 months jail time for fraud. He got his full salary whilst he was inside (I presume claiming his attendance allowance was a bit more awkward) then re-joined his colleagues for the rest of his five years with barely an eyebrow raised.
Can you imagine what would happen to an Independent who acted this way? The parties and the media would tear him to shreds. There's no way he would be protected by other MPs and he would find it impossible to do his job. He abso-bloody-lutely wouldn't be shuffled off to a safe seat for re-election.
That's why independents are better for democracy. They're automatically more accountable and have no team of party spinners (read - liars) to protect them.
A vote for a party is a vote for sleaze.