Finally, Britain can join Europe

Try as one might, one can’t but help feeling a certain cackling glee at the number of British MPs that have been felled by recent revelations in The Telegraph about outrageous expenses that have been claimed. With ten years’ writing about politics, I can honestly say that I loathe the profession and it would take a great deal to persuade me ever to become a bona-fida elected MP.

This evening, I went for a walk along the banks of the Po with an Italian friend of mine. “So, what do you think of this MP scandal?” he asked.

I shrugged. I hadn’t really been following it. I’d been in Hungary. Though I had received embarrassing tidbits courtesy of CNN.

I tried to explain in Italian something of the British pysche – that for a country such as the UK, proud as we are of our righteous democracy, these things just don’t really happen. So it’s kind of a shock to the system. Cackle as we may as Andrew MacKay bites the dust, we (as a nation) are starting to realise that it’s not the MPs that are at fault, but the system. Everyone is on the take. A bit like A Clockwork Orange. Absolutely no one is good.

And we’re pretty damn pissed off about this.

Compare this to Italy. Everyone knows Berlusconi is corrupt. Most people suspect he has mafia connections (never proven, please don’t sue). Everyone knows the media is biased. And yet the system survives and no one batters an eyelid.

Feeling particularly patriotic, I tried to lay all this out to my walking companion – explaining that in Britain we have a zero-tolerance to this kind of thing. It’s just about the only thing I like about the country.

My companion thought for a moment before responding, in jocular tones, “well, then, finally you can join Europe.”

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