The scene: an elections hustings in a market square. Senior MPs are surrounded by a baying mob.
The crowd: String ‘em up, string ‘em up, string ‘em up.
David Cameron: I hear your cries. I feel your pain. No one is more appalled than I.
Gordon Brown: It is fundamental that members on all sides of the house formulate a solution to this irksome crisis.
The crowd: What do we want? To get shot of you. When do we want it? Now!
David Cameron: I understand why you are so enraged. And that is why I want to give power back to the people.
Sir Peter Viggers: To the oiks? Are you quite certain?
David Cameron: I have listened. And this is why I can now promise you reforms that will banish the stain of this disgusting scandal.
The crowd: You’re sacking Francis Maude? Bill Wiggins? Julie Kirkbride?
David Cameron: I promise that I will let MPs choose the chairs of parliamentary select committees. And I will force the publication of expenses by all senior civil servants. These astonishing reforms will be a once-in-a-lifetime transfer of power from the centre to the fringes.
The crowd: Really? Are you sure?
David Cameron: And I will not stop there. I will even pledge to consider the possibility of fixed-term parliaments. Maybe.
The crowd: All we want is for MPs to stop troughing on free wide-screen TVs and moats.
Gordon Brown: The proposals from the discredited Conservative leadership do not go far enough.
Alan Johnson: That’s right. We want PR.
Harriet Harman: Public relations? More media training? Splendid.
Alan Johnson: Proportional representation. Power to the people. My idea is Alternative Vote Plus. It’s simple. Voters have two votes. With the first – for the locally elected MP – voters rank candidates in order of preference (like, a,b,c,d instead of “x”). The second is a top-up list, which means . . .
The crowd: (silent, blank expressions)
Ed Miliband: I have a better idea. Let’s give more power to councils. And stop calling each other “honourable members”. That’s terribly old-fashioned.
The crowd: We just want guilty MPs to step down.
Ed Miliband: My modernising ideas do not stop there. Replace Big Ben with a digital timepiece. Move the Speaker’s chair to the other end of the chamber. Rename Black Rod as “Manager of the Lords”.
Gordon Brown: Encourage elected mayors to use Twitter.
Alan Johnson: Change the benches from green to red. And maybe rearrange them a bit?