If we wanted to get rid of every MP who had ever told a porkie, "we'd clear out the House of Commons very fast", the former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats admitted this morning.
Sir Malcolm Bruce, who stepped down at the General Election, was attempting to defend Alistair Carmichael – the only remaining Scottish Lib Dem MP – who was behind the leaked memo suggesting SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon wanted the Conservatives to win. Carmichael said he had not seen the document before it was published, but was ''aware of its content and agreed that my special adviser [Euan Roddin] should make it public''.
But Bruce inadvertently ended up being brutally honest about our elected officials' dishonesty.
In a bruising interview with BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Bruce said: “If [Carmichael] has said 'I didn't know about something I did know in the heated atmosphere of an election campaign' that was part of the mistake, which he has apologised for.
"My point is if you're suggesting every MP who has never quite told the truth or indeed told a brazen lie, including ministers, including Cabinet ministers, including prime ministers, we'd clear out the House of Commons very fast, I would suggest."
Asked if he meant that lying was widespread within politics, Bruce said: "No. Well, yes – I think the answer is lots of people have told lies and you know that to be perfectly true.
"The point I'm making is we should, of course, hold people to account and if people lie they should take some consequences.
"But Alistair has taken consequences. He has apologised. He's indicated had he been a minister he would resign. He's forfeited his severance pay.
"I believe it's perfectly reasonable for him to be able to say 'I must now be allowed to get on with the job I was elected to do as the Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland', a part of the country which needs people like Alistair Carmichael."