I've just heard Tristram Hunt, unlikely ex-new Labour biographer of Engels, on Radio 4 opining that if Britain wasn't a Monarchy this expenses farrago would lead to a collapse of the State and the foundation of a new Republic. I'd guess the Italian experience must have been in his mind. Tangentopoli was the word they gave their situation - 'bribesville'. It took the emergence of the magistrate - not politician -led Manu Pulite ('Clean Hands') anti-corruption campaign to bring it down, and bring down the so called 'First Republic' as well.
Now, despite the fact that the British situation seems far less organised and structural - its all about individual venality as far as I can see, not organisational corruption in the Italian sense - I do think Hunt is on to something. Perhaps because he is the son of a weatherman he can tell which way the wind is blowing.
Dave Osler - and in a different way, Paulie - worry that this is feeding into an anti-political mood in the country. I agree with Paulie that the big threat is not the BNP - although I expect them to made some electoral gains in the Euro elections - but some charismatic and telegenic charmer on the Berlusconi model. (Please God, don't let it be Richard Branson.)
In a way our default model of political leader has been evolving in this direction anyway- think of Blair, and our two current Blair-lites, Cameron and Clegg. Anyone of them might, if they had accidentally lost an election in mid career, have evolved into a TV sofa host on the lines of Jeremy Vine or Kilroy Silk. Even the viciously combative ex-politician Portillo now seems eminently charming and personable as an all purpose TV talking head. The stage is surely set for some movement in the opposite direction - a TV talking head who arrives on the electronic PR campaign equivalent of a white charger promising to sweep away all this nonsense.
Because this is Britain, not Italy, I don't think, as yet, conditions are far enough advanced for such a 'new politics' (sic) to be successful. But I'm prepared to bet someone is going to try.