Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Where is the Outrage?

Rowena Mason and Robert Winnet, reporting in the Telegraph, suggest that Cameron will face a ‘backlash after a millionaire businessman jailed for fraud, a former drugs dealer and a controversial Conservative Party donor’ appear in the New Years honours list – but will he?

Gone, it seems, are the days when a single corrupt act by our political elite, or public servant, creates a backlash, public outrage or an immediate resignation. Since the MP’s expenses scandal, and the many others that have come to light in recent years, it seems that the public have become accustomed to corrupt practices from what were once described as the ‘great and the good’. It also seems that we lack a body of upright elder statesmen to condemn the actions of those who have followed in their wake.

It is true that modern technology has made it far more difficult for those in the public eye to act in a dubious fashion without being caught. Mobile phones with cameras and voice recording facilities being perhaps the most devastating to those carrying out these dark acts. However, when the motives of the Prime Minister, in giving these honours, becomes so clearly corrupt and biased – one to a a hedge fund manager who profited from the collapse of Northern Rock, who happened to contribute half a million to Tory Party funds and another to a crook who served six months in prison – we must begin to question how low the standards in public life will fall.

Until Major became Prime Minister, male occupiers of this position had usually had some kind of war record – since the twentieth century had been dominated by two world wars. The behaviour of individuals who faced death on a regular basis does give a clear indication of their inner worth, no doubt many an aspiring politician’s career was wrecked because of weak behaviour when facing the enemy throughout this time.

Major also started the trend of more youthful PMs. At 47, when he came to office, he has been follow by the election of Blair and Cameron, both aged 43 and both the youngest holder of the office since Lord Liverpool in 1812 – nearly 200 years ago.

There was little doubt that Blair’s youthful appearance was a great asset in helping him win a landslide victory in 1997, along with the poor record of the Tories by that time. However, we must ask if such relative youth, compared to the usual age of his predecessors of 50+, 60+ or even 70+ is really an advantage.

For most men, this is the time when they have a growing family that must preoccupy them to a significant degree. They are still developing in terms of their career and to hold the highest office at that age does fly in the face of the view of previous generations, that with age comes wisdom and that youth is inclined to act impulsively in its eagerness to achieve success.

Their is little doubt that Blair did not apply wisdom when committing the nation to the Iraq war, or reducing financial controls that allowed the banking crisis, or enabling such an increase in the number of immigrants that has created such racial tensions and a rapid increase in the population and his enthusiasm for the EU has been proven misplaced. The combination of these impulsive, rather than wise, decisions has created so many intractable problems that only the most carefully plotted course can hope to see the nation to return a bright future.

So far impulse and a distinct preparedness to act corruptly have marked out Cameron’s premiership – two qualities that bode ill in such high office and for the nation. Blair was a disaster for the UK – the signs are that Cameron will be even worse.

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