I have to confess that I did do a bit of a tut tut when I first heard that Ming Campbell had had a designer sort out his London flat on expenses. It was only a very small tut tut, because it sounded reasonable that work should be carried out on a flat for the first time in almost 20 years and there was no way that he should be expected to do the work himself. Also, his immediate decision to repay the money claimed for the designer, which was a relatively small sum in the scheme of things, was to his credit.
Now I'm feeling a bit ashamed of myself having read this letter to local Lib Dem members that he's published on his website - particularly this bit.
"This is a one-room studio flat (or bedsit) which I rent including a parking place for just under £800 per month. The rent and my tenancy are protected until 2034. When I give up my tenancy and leave Parliament I will receive no financial benefit.
In 2005 the new Landlords offered me £38,000 to give up the tenancy so that they could put a new tenant in at a full market rent. I refused that offer and decided to remain where I was."
So, Ming could have pocketed almost forty grand and gone and found himself another flat. Had he chosen to do that, it would have been entirely within the rules and it would probably never have come to public knowledge.
Instead, he chose to stay put in a flat for which the rent is ridiculously low to save the taxpayer money. Rather than being £38,0000 up, he's £1,500 down. Over the last 4 years he has saved the taxpayer probably at least another £10,000, possibly more, by staying where he was.
That seems to me to be the act of a man who takes his public service and the use of taxpayers' money very seriously. I'll bet you you won't see this on many news outlets tomorrow in a climate where the media only want to publish the sensational and the outrageous.