As Anthony Steen disappears into retirement many people have asked me what I think of his behaviour because I haven't commented on him earlier.
This is because for a few days before his standing down became public knowledge there was a very great deal of discussion about what the Totnes Association could, or should do if Anthony refused to go. I felt that weighing in publicly in the affairs of a neighbouring constituency would neither be appropriate or terribly helpful while that process was going on, although in private all along I have been saying that he must go .
Now that he has done the right thing and decided to step down I can say what I think, which is that however hard he has worked, however many constituents he has served well over the years it is not enough to justify the morally indefensible and I think his claims were just that, morally indefensible.
Anthony is a wealthy man in his own right and cannot possibly have needed the money so what on earth was he thinking? Perhaps the lawyer in him couldn't separate out the legal right from the moral wrong. Either way he has been the sole architect of his own downfall.
It is not legally possible to force him to repay the money as some have suggested because, as with most of these cases, he was acting entirely within the rules and therefore has committed no offence and breached no agreements, so unless he makes a goodwill gesture (hardly likely, judging by his public comments) there is no way the money can be returned.
But the main thing is -along with two others he is going; and hopefully a few other disgraced Conservative MP's will go as well this weekend because I really do think that this is the best way out of this for Parliaments sake.
But what of his neighbours? I learn that Tory Gary Streeter and Labour MP Alison Seabeck have posted all their own expenses on their websites today, so is clearly nothing to hide there.
Younger Ross is guilty of exactly the same 'offence' as Steen - and as much money, too. No doubt there will be howls of protest from some that he wasn't as 'bad' as Anthony but why? Because he doesn't live in such a big house? Because he used the money to buy fancy mirrors and expensive furniture rather than tree surgeons and water pipes?
And what about our MP? Will he now do the right thing and get on and publish his own expenses? And if not, will his own party take tough action against him?
Somehow I doubt it. Clearly -in spite of Nick Cleggs fine words- they don't have the determination and guts to act and that won't be forgotten by voters at election time.