When I was a kid, I thought politicians were pretty special people. I’m old enough to remember Harold McMillan and Enoch Powell, found Harold Wilson a bit different and was always fond of sunny Jim Callaghan. But one thing that was consistent was that most people had some respect for this group, even if we didn’t like their policies.
So where has it all gone wrong? Why are we now so disappointed with our political leaders and even some of their followers?
First off: they are in it for themselves. Or so it seems anyway. Snouts in deep troughs and not understanding when to stop gorging themselves.
Wrong focus: when the world last faced a monstrous financial climate it was dealt with at the Bretton Woods summit of world leaders. This lasted 22days. Now our leaders will spend a few hours in London at the G20 dealing with prepared statements and we should not expect anything to be fixed by them. but lots of photos will be taken and hot air spouted.
Getting elected is everything. It appears to matter not one jot to anyone that what they are doing is wrong or even worse, potentially illegal, they plough on with re-election as the sole goal.
Allowances are generous, and so they should be because being a good politician is not an easy job. And I’ve got no issue with some expense claims that are made. If an MP or AM needs a digital camera, then let him have one. But then make sure that they all have one, because if one needs it then they all do and it should be part of the job criteria. But instead of defining what it is they should do and listing the tools they need to let them do the work, it is easier, or is that cosier, to buy what they want, when they want it, and let the tax payer pay.
And that leads to staffing. Employing family members who are good researchers is fine, provided they are good researchers. But wouldn’t we all be a bit happier if the civil service provided expert research staff to our politicians thus removing any charges of nepotism?
And finally, for now anyway: where has their judgement gone. Take Jacqui Smith for example: she might be within the law, but morally – what a mighty own goal. Here in Wales: an AM, MP and MEP recently launched a new political website to disastrous response. I can laugh at their stupidity in doing so, but I’m appalled at their judgment in doing so. If they can make decisions like this, then how can I trust them to make the big political decisions properly.
It’s a long time since I was a child, and the erosion of standards in public life seems to have occured quite suddenly. But how on earth can we rectify if without getting rid of them all?
Now there’s a thought!