JuliaM has a fine piece on Jacqui Smith's use of day-release prisoners to paint her house - or, as the Mail inevitably has it, her £450,000 house - in exchange for a donation and some plants.
It's an interesting little coda to the expenses scandal - from which, come to think about it, Smith didn't exactly emerge smelling of roses - and the reasons for which senior politicians helped themelves to public funds.
I suspect there is a particular form of hubris here - become a political animal and eventually you can no longer distinguish your public and private personae. Thus our MPs trotted merrily off to buy top-of-the-range furnishings at our expense, believing it was part of their inalienable right to life, Liberty prints and the pursuit of valances.
Perhaps it's seeing the grace-and-favour accommodation given to those in high office - look at the Bercows, after all - but the expenses affair served to illustrate the way many MPs felt entitled to have their homes improved at public expense without performing the public functions that explain our funding of Chequers and its ilk.
Leaving aside the interesting image of the Obamas or the Portugese Ambassador popping round for an evening chez Smith and Timney - probably best not to ask what's on the television - this story somehow sums up the arrogance that confuses the office with the person doing it.
Judging by Jacqui Smith's choice of painters and decorators, it's a hard habit to break.
I read this the other way about
1 hour ago