Every now and then, I appear on a BBC World Service programme called WORLD HAVE YOUR SAY. It's an hour long phone in, with people calling in from all around the world. It has a massive audience. Today they were discussing whether, considering the expenses scandal, Britain is still seen as a beacon of parliamentary democracy. I was on with a Nigerian journalist and a senator from the same country.
I quizzed her about what she, as a Nigerian politician, could claim for. Rent, she said. So far so good. Then she said: "A security guard and a chef." I felt like saying: "Your name isn't Barbara Follett by any chance, is it?"
Caller after caller reckoned our expenses scandal is a storm in a teacup and that no one would blink an eye in Trinidad, Malaysia or Nigeria. This really made me think. Perhaps the fact that we get exorcised about this demonstrates that our democracy is actually in very rude health. If we just accepted it as a fact of life, what would that say?