The surprise is that anybody was surprised. Disappointed, angry and disgusted even – but shocked? Hardly.

Those Panama Papers – supposedly the biggest leak of tax-dodging scandal since taxes and scandals first went hand in hand – have shone unflattering light on a depressing fact of life we have always known.

The rich know best how to get richer.

“It has not been a great week,” David Cameron told party activists at their conference. “I know there are lessons to learn and I will learn them. Don’t blame Number 10 Downing Street or nameless advisers. Blame me.”

Accepting the invitation readily, most of the country does.

He’s up to his neck in the soup and it will be some time before he’s out of it.

Angry critics and die-hard opponents are calling for his resignation.

Friends and blindly loyal Tory supporters say he is a victim of the politics of envy – because he’s rich.

Neither position holds much water.

If he resigns, who will replace him?

Where’s the country’s squeaky clean saviour of fair play? And, equally as important, is it mere envy that motivates an electorate to expect justice, equality, similar sauce for goose and gander and a straight answer to a straight question… on first asking?

Absolutely not.

It may be true that the prime minister has, strictly legally speaking, done nothing much wrong.

He has perhaps acted within the rules. But whose rules? And why do they not apply to every taxpayer?

Because not every taxpayer is part of the rich elite.

And the majority, who pay taxes that can’t be avoided, are angry that what they pay directly supports those who are able to take advantage of offshore tax havens and hefty cash gifts from their families – parents rich enough to hide their wealth in havens.

That alone makes his repeated references to “hard working families” somewhat nauseating.

Families, eh. What can you do with them? A few hundred thousand handed over on your birthdays and everybody screams foul – enviously – just because you forgot to mention the notes stuffed inside the greetings cards.

Anne Pickles

No, that’s not it. Not even close. If

David Cameron is paying a heavy personal price for his days of deliberate prevarication, he has only himself to blame.

He was right on that score.

He was the one who initially described his tax arrangements as a “private matter” and they’re not. They just aren’t. Democracy demands transparency. It requires a straight answer to a direct question, for so long as he’s on our pay-roll. The same is true of all elected to the public wages bill.

In a sense it’s a shame he has – by virtue of his father’s questionable financial activities – been swept up into the Panama Papers ruckus.

His discomfort is distracting. It is diverting attention from all those other tax avoiders who are draining this country of its services and hindering its potential prosperity.

But for so long as the prime minister is squirming in his homemade soup, collecting sticky stains that won’t be easily removed, he might find it useful to focus on the first inarguable expectation of a democracy.

You will be scrutinised, criticised and held accountable for your actions. That’s the deal. Those are the rules.

Were you not prepared to accept close examination – and answer for its findings – you should never have stood for public office.

There are other ways of making good money. You could have been a Premiership footballer, a movie star, a City banker, a TV chat show presenter… none of which requires a public vote.

And that’s not envy. That’s just one of life’s inalienable facts. Long may it remain so.