When Maria Miller went, she went with the dignity and gravitas that befitted a friend of David Cameron. The early-morning announcement that she had given up her attempt to emulate a morally-challenged barnacle was hardly a surprise, although the hubris with which her defenders had demonstrated was disproportionate to the merits of any attempt at throwing her a lifebelt. Cameron and his cronies now look both stupid for having tried to rescue her, and suspicious on the basis that if she could have been defended for this, the other little unpleasantnesses that are lurking in journalists' pending trays to emerge between now and the General Election may be truly amusing.
Miller epitomises the reduction of the political process to grasping and self-interest, dressed up as a refusal to be accountable to the media. I am awaiting the first Tory apologist to argue that she was not given as fair a trial as Nigel Evans, whose acquittal this week raises questions over the effectiveness of the judicial system. This will be the cue for a sharp intake of breath and much spluttering, but no surprise, given the extent to which the political class now believes itself to be free from all constraints of decency, probity and accountability.
The political system is, probably, no more discredited now than it was a fortnight ago, but this is not a proud boast. The continuing ramblings of Farage and his retinue demonstrate this - picking up the anti-establishment vote that may fuel triumph for Salmond in September. In any case, the idea that people who have demonstrated themselves untrustworthy should be able to determine any sanctions against them is now undermining Cameron, for which we should be thankful. Labour and the other opposition parties should be stoking the fires now - not just around expenses but around the democratic deficit that allowed Miller to survive and for the continued erosion of voter trust, visibility and engagement. Root-and-branch reform and accountability should be at the root of the questions that are posed to politicians.