I know. We already know the answer to this question. But this week has seen the answer made clearer than ever. Any remaining doubt has been totally dispelled.
One of the biggest news stories in the UK this week was the fall from grace of not one but two senior politicians. One Labour, the other a Conservative. At a single stroke, this duality destroys any defence that this is a party issue or an isolated case. The subsequent Westminster debate and media circus has focussed wrongly on whether or not they acted properly.
But this really is irrelevant. I don’t care whether or not they broke the rules. That’s the wrong question to ask. What I am more interested in is what this tells us about whose jobs politicians really care most about. The people we elect to serve us.
Both were formerly foreign secretaries and both have been suspended from their parliamentary parties after being secretly filmed by Channel Four’s Dispatches programme in what can only be described as a sting. They were secretly filmed offering their services to a fake Chinese company for cash.
The trap was a media collaboration between the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4's Dispatches. Members of the team posed as staff of the fake Chinese firm.
The 'work' they are seen selling isn’t 'real' work
What is being sold isn’t work as most of us think about it. It’s the sale of political influence. Influence which will help foreign businesses circumvent due processes, rules and democratic decisions.
Straw is seen describing how he operated "under the radar" and had previously used his influence to change EU rules on behalf of a firm which paid him £60,000 a year.
On the subject of what he charges for this, Straw is heard saying: "So normally,… it's £5,000 a day, that's what I charge."
Worse this isn’t helping UK businesses, it’s helping foreign businesses
It would be bad enough if the fake firm was British, but in this case, it’s Chinese. Why do Straw and Rifkind think this will help British businesses in a time when it needs government support more than ever? And why do they think a Chinese firm deserves their support more than UK business?
Rifkind claimed he could arrange "useful access" to every British ambassador in the world. He is MP for Kensington and chairman of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee and was recorded saying: "I am self-employed - so nobody pays me a salary. I have to earn my income." Erm, that is apart from your £67,060 a year MPs salary – or is that too small to really count? – Ed.
He also said his usual fee for half a day's work was "somewhere in the region of £5,000 to £8,000".
So it doesn’t matter whether or not they broke any rules. What matters is that this episode proves that the most senior ranks of both major political parties contain people who have forgotten what UK tax payers pay them to do and whom they are supposed to serve.
And if the electorate were not already disenfranchised enough, this episode in the run up to a general election will encourage voters of all political persuasions to question if the mainstream parties are really credible. UKIP and the Greens must be rubbing their hands with glee.
Can there be any question left about whose jobs politicians really care most about?