“I am Spartacus!”

Mick’s got the serious view of the ongoing MPs’ expenses row, and there’s been another casualty, but I’m still laughing at former Telegraph literary editor Sam Leith’s riffing on Spartacus at his new home in the Guardian.

Only the analogy isn’t as exact as they would like you to think. Imagine, rather, if each slave had said: “I am Spartacus … well, at least in spirit I am. I don’t say Spartacus did right (and let me be the first to say sorry, Caesar, even though I’ve done nothing wrong) – but the reason for this whole uprising thing was that the Slave Uprising System is rotten to the core, see, and it made provisions for revolt that are outdated and, frankly, corrupt. There. I’ve said it. And the sooner we can – put that crucifix away a minute, would you, it’s making me nervous – get down to the task of fixing the system, the better.”

He does have a serious point..

The purpose of these MPs’ declarations is not to take responsibility collectively, but to avoid taking it individually. They are an attempt to shift the emphasis from content to form – thus defanging it as a party- political issue and, instead, making it a problem for politicians to solve. Of course, form matters: the system is open to corruption. But it is individuals who choose to exploit it.


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