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Pay it back, Ms Smith. It's not yours.

Jacqui Smith Request for Payback.

The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics has written a very fair letter to Jacqui Smith. Ms Smith has cheated the taxpayer and an apology will not suffice. If you or I cheated our employer of £4,000, let alone £42,000, an apology would not absolve us. Perhaps if we paid it back, with interest, a kind employer might drop the charges after dismissing us. More likely he would call the police anyway. If he realised that our whole family had become so accustomed to living at his expense that they were carelessly including bills for their porn movies in our claims, I am pretty sure he would.

Ms Smith should pay the money back. Then her employers can decide what to do with her. As various MPs are showing, including the God-bothering Ann Widdecombe, they still don't get it. Not yet, at least. With an election looming, the party leaders are "getting it" though. They are digging into their own pockets to pay back their own unjustified claims.

It was only a proper expense, ladies and gentlemen of Parliament, if it was wholly and necessarily incurred in the performance of your duties. Lying about your main residence to score tens of thousands towards mortgage payments and/or household expenses you would have had whether an MP or not, was not. "Flipping" your homes so as to claim expenses on each in turn, was not. Flipping, claiming expenses to refurbish and then selling for a profit was property development at the taxpayers' cost, not a legitimate expense.

Your every protest now just condemns you more in the public eye. So, "get it" finally. Shut up. Pay up. All of you. Now. And never let us hear a slimy, hypocritical word about your vocation for "public service" again.