In the last post, I said it's what the public sees that counts. It's not what's true or what's right that matters, but public perception of what's right and what's true. They are not always the same thing.
Dai Cameroid has realised this, I think. He's stated, in public and in definite terms rarely heard from any politician these days, that any Tory MP who doesn't pay back the expenses they're required to pay back will be sacked.
Labour MPs are resisting paying the money back because they claimed it within the rules and their claims were approved. That's true. They were working within the rules, but they wrote the rules and we all know it. Many claims, from all parties, were immoral even if they were within a particular set of rules.
It's interesting that the Brown Gorgon's insistence that they pay back the money anyway is seen as likely to force a leadership challenge. Nobody challenged him when he said he planned to load all single teenage mothers onto trucks and ship them off to the workhouse. Nobody challenged him over selling off our gold at rock bottom prices, a plan he intends to repeat by selling off assets in a recession. Yet when he tells them they need to restore public confidence and that it doesn't matter whether they were right or wrong, they must bite the bullet and get the voters back on side, they rebel and start legal proceedings which will cost more than they owe in order to keep their cash.
Brown Gorgon 'gets it'. He's realised that the public will not let this matter drop and that fighting it will only make his party's position worse. The Cameroid gets it too. The difference is, the Cameroid has taken a strong leadership stance with 'Pay it back or get out', while the Gorgon's stance comes over as 'Oh, please, go on, pay it back, don't be mean about it'.
I'm sure the Tory troughers are muttering dark things into their gin and tonics, but they are faced with a leader who has made public his intention to sack them if they rebel. Labour have formed their wagons into a circle around the trough and plan to keep it, no matter what their leader says.
If those Labour MPs do decide to challenge this through the courts, it'll still be going on at the next election. The Tory troughing will have been largely forgotten and forgiven if they all pay it back. If one or two refuse and Dai Cameroid sacks them, that will look even better to the public. The Labour troughing will still be in the news, and it won't be good news.
There are so many nails in Labour's coffin now, there's barely room for the corpse.