Been away for two days - and depressingly nothing seems to have changed. The only issue on the lips of the nation remains the expenses that MPs have been claiming. I've just watched Newsnight. A focus group gave exactly the sort of take on the issue that I reckon the public overwhelmingly takes. I try not to be partisan about this issue, but I did think Harriet Harmon was awful tonight, and would have reassured absolutely no-one. She only came on to answer questions that Jeremy didn't want to ask. All this 'diversionary' discussion about constitutional reform is passing people by. What they want is a say about who should be Members of Parliament. The people of Britain do not trust our MPs to sort anything out. The people want to sort it out themselves. This lack of trust and confidence will not go away until there is a General Election.
I really do not believe that Gordon Brown has any idea how people feel. As I was driving home today, I heard him on the car radio, adopting a Churchillian tone to announce that any Labour MP who had broken the rules, or broken the law would not be a candidate at the next election. I reckon he genuinely believes that this is a significant statement. Its totally meaningless. Almost every revelation made by the Telegraph over the last month has been 'within the rules', and has broken no rule or law.
The next 10 days are going to be an interesting period in British politics. Polls are putting Labour support as low as 18%. Hard to believe this can possibly be true. If it happens, what then. Alistair Darling period as Chancellor looks to be over. Gordon Brown would not give him support tonight. I would not be surprised if Mr Darling tells the Prime Minister where he can stuff any other job offered. Perhaps he might tell us about what Gordon Brown had done to his cricket bat, before he went out to open the innings on budget day. Wouldn't be the first apparently 'gentle' politician to do that. Hazel Blears must surely go as well, after the way the Prime Minister rubbished her two weeks ago. Geoff Hoon and James Purnell avoided paying CGT in much the same way. Problem is that when one MP is forced to pay the CGT that was not paid (or due) by designating their main home as different from the information given to the Fees Office, there are questions about others who have done the same thing. Mr Hoon looks to be in bother for other reasons as well. The problem in any re-shuffle is that very few members of the Cabinet have the confidence of the public, and anyone promoted is going to have their expenses history studied forensically all over again. I think we are entering new territory in British politics - and none of us can predict which way its going to go in the month of June. Still think we might have promise (or at least a clear indication) of a General Election in October.