It seems every day brings fresh revelations about MPs' expenses and understandably respect for politicians is sinking to new lows. In many parts of the internet I have seen people calling for a dissolution of Parliament and a general election, as though this is what is needed to restore confidence and trust in the system. But has anyone given this much thought?
The basic problem is the entire system of MPs' expenses is flawed and based on premises that have not proved acceptable in the court of public opinion. Few MPs have broken the letter of the rules (although the spirit is another matter) - it is the rules themselves that are broken.
What will an immediate dissolution of Parliament and general election bring? It will merely see groups of politicians going to the country asking voters to put them back in a position to claim more. It will mean local parties will not have time to decide if they still wish to nominate their sitting MP. It will mean there will be no time to reform the system and there will be the danger that the MPs who do get returned - and after all there will be MPs returned no matter what - will take their election as a sign to carry on as normal.
It is a cliché to say, but this is not a party political matter. All too often MPs' expenses are a matter in which all parties' front benches are on one side and the back benches on the other. An election cannot be easily fought on this matter. And voters will have no immediate way to judge between candidates, especially those who are not sitting MPs and cannot be tested in practice, not matter what they claim.
An election will solve nothing. It will merely change some faces. It is a kneejerk reaction not a solution.