Once again, the gaping moral void at the heart of Britain's democratic institutions has been laid bare. Our self-appointed moral guardians have, yet again, been caught out breaking the rules for their own profit. Despite all their fine words and lofty claims to serve the public, they have, blinded by greed, forsaken their moral responsibilities in pursuit of naked self-interest.
We all know how this story unfolds: the progressive drip-feeding of relevations, the shift from thin-lipped denial to red-faced excuse, the scapegoats, the forced apologies, the promises to reform and self-regulate. How long before we hear the same sad chorus again: "the problem was the system", "I believed it to be within the rules", "the proper authorities approved it so I felt it must be alright", "it was part of the culture"? How long before we see junior or unpopular figures publicly fired while the charmed inner circle merely apologises?
Now, more than ever, such false contrition will not be nearly good enough. A scandal such as this demands the resignation of senior leadership figures, if only to demonstrate that lessons have been learned. Moreover, the era of self-regulation must surely be over. The time has come for root-and-branch reform of an outdated system; the era of the gentleman's club is over. Our democratic process demands a new, independent and effective watchdog which can exert genuine control over those who would abuse their power.