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.I can't say I support this idea. That money won't be coming back to me, it'll go back into the state's black hole of debt and will essentially cease to exist, so sod it, the money's spent, the cash has been exchanged for stuff of approximately the same value, suppliers and tradesmen have been paid.
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.
My alternative is (firstly the old golden goodbye payment for MP's gets canned) the MPs all get their expense totals tattooed on their foreheads and a general election called. If their constituents think the MP's value is the same as the price tag on their fod then so be it, and they think otherwise then get voted out of office.
If as Burning Our Money has it they think they can make more money in the private sector, then so be it, the private sector will be able to assess their value and their price tag. And if they end up destitute and unemployable (like myself) then so be it.
Paying the money back doesn't undo the offence of taking it in the first place.
The chap who started the Pay It Back campaign is here
There's this argument for the death penalty that I read somewhere once, "We're not hanging you cos you stole horses, we're hanging you to stop horses being stolen". Getting these MPs to pay back expenses that they've troughed isn't going to stop MPs troughing the system, only getting rid of these MPs will do.
So they can keep what they've stolen and get the hell out of my way.