Here’s the thing.
Your job requires you to be in two places at once – Westminster and your constituency. You’d only run one home normally, but now you need two. So the rules say you can declare one your ‘main’ home, and get taxpayers’ help for the other. That’s fair enough.
You keep your existing family home and claim for a pied a terre in London. Or move your family to London and claim for a sleepover place in your constituency. Also fair.
What you don’t do, or shouldn’t, is stay on the cheap with a mate, pretend that’s your main base and then get the tax payer to underwrite the family home. Which is exactly what we now find out Jacqui Smith has been doing for years.
Now we know why she’s called the Home secretary.
Like Derek Conway before her, Smith’s dodgy dealings make people sceptical about MPs in general, even though most, in all parties, are decent people: and that’s bad news for democracy.
When the Tories eventually lost power, it wasn’t because they were hated (some of us had hated them for years). It was because they were incompetent and sleazy.