This is probably against the grain of public opinion, but I have a degree of sympathy with some MPs. Not those who spent our money on duck houses and moats you understand, but those who have genuine expense-related claims but have found, through Sir Thomas Legg's audit that the rules have been retrospectively changed.
It is hard, obviously, to have sympathy for those who look like they've been fiddling the system but for those who have abided by the rules, consulted the Parliamentary authorities throughout and then claimed within (what they thought were) the limits before being saddled with a bill of over 12 grand when an outsider decides that the rules need changing.
Imagine you work for a company who allows you to claim fairly generous expenses. You work hard for them, for a relatively decent but not spectacular salary. You fill out form after form to claim back what you think is a fair amount, reflective of what you have shelled out. It is nowhere near the upper limit, and you feel comfortable that you haven't been screwing them out of money.
You then turn up for work one day where a letter awaits, demanding repayment of some of those expenses - to the tune of £12,000. The letter apologies for the misunderstanding that you undertook to claim your expenses within the rules, notes that you did so but that they've decided to change the rules - and want their money back. Can you imagine trying to explain that to your spouse when you return home in the evening?!
"Sorry, can't afford dinner tonight dear - have to pay back 12 grand in expenses."
"What?!! Didn't you claim it right? Provide receipts etc?"
"Oh yes. Everything was above board. I haven't even done anything wrong. They've just changed the rules now, and want the cash back. Apparently its all about public perception."
Which, in fairness, is entirely what this is about. Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have either had to repay expenses and are being asked to provide more information on several items. Each have told their MPs that they should pay back what they've been asked for and shut the hell up. David Cameron has gone as far as saying that if his MPs don't pay up, then they won't be standing for the Tories again.
Which is all a bit ludicrous. You've stuck to the rules - both spirit and law - and yet you are being asked to return money for legitimate expenses. And if you don't (which you are under no legal obligation to do) then you're booted out of Parliament by your party.
I know MPs are not seen in a good light at the moment, and when the expenses scandal broke people thought less of them than, well, than they did before. But really, isn't there a sense that this might have taken a rather strange turn? Surely there is a case for being indignant - if you have abided by the rules, why should you pay back money just because some auditor guy thinks the rules should have been different?
Yes, those that have claimed ridiculously - the moats, duck houses, flipping homes and porn movies etc - should have to pay back these claims. And, potentially, consider their position as worthy to return to the House of Commons in the next Parliament. But for those who haven't remotely broken rules... well, aren't they just being tarred with the same brush?
PS - always nice when my views are directly opposite those of the Daily Mail.