First Jacqui Smith and now McNulty remind me of a completely unscientific theory I hold.
When political parties decompose, something is revealed about the nature of their fundamental sociological appeal. Most politicians of all parties are basically honest – but each party attracts a penumbra of character types to whom the particular party's presentation is fundamentally in tune with their personal psychic nature and self conceived sociological position.
So when the Tories were decomposing in the nineties we had Hamilton and Aitken et al- basically grubby men taking money in brown envelopes from the rich and powerful. This is 'Rotary Club' level corruption writ large. The nod, the wink, the funny handshake – 'it's only business' after all. The political culture set in place by Alderman Roberts' daughter trailed a small town shopkeeper brand of corruption.
Others will judge whether Smith or McNulty have broken any rules. But their offences, if that is what they are, are the offences of the middle manager: the bloated expenses claim, the 'second jacket on the back of the office chair' to convince the higher-ups that work is being down. The cultural underbelly of a successful PowerPoint presentation. &, of course, the game playing indulged by all in large organisations driven by bureaucratic rules and targets.
Once reduced to such stereotypes no party can sustain itself in office. The base is too narrow. Hegemony has collapsed in the eyes of the vast mass of apolitical people. I think Labour is teetering on the brink of that now.
Ross McKibbin is right:
"Who would care if the Labour Party, politically and morally decrepit as it is, lost the next election? Would anyone lose a night's sleep knowing that the present government was no longer in charge of our futures?"