I was teaching in Latvia when the expenses scandal broke. Most of my students were shocked. "Corruption is something here, not in Britain," was a common response. Others were more phlegmatic. "They're politicians. What do you expect?" they shrugged.
What do we expect of our politicians? To represent the best interests of their constituents? ("Thank you for emailing me. If you live in North Tyneside, please make sure that you have included your home address as I can only represent people who live in my constituency," is the now ironic reply when you email Stephen Byers.) Byers, who as Minister for School Standards once went on live TV and claimed eight sevens were fifty-four, recently likened himself to "a cab for hire," though others might prefer to call him a greedy, lying bastard. In the immortal words of Francis Urquhart, "You might well think that; I couldn't possibly comment."