Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Can We Finally Be Realistic About Politicians?

'Oh, we could but do with some nice little young Asian lady I would've thought tonight but never mind. They sort of look innocent but you know they're whores.' LORD SEWEL

It’s been less than a week since Lord Sewel was publicly humiliated in The Sun. The famous video showing the now former chairman of committees unwinding with a load of cocaine and a prostitute has well and truly gone viral.

On the face of it, this is a good old-fashioned political scandal and there have been many over the past five years. The chances are that just like David Law’s ‘second home’, Liam Fox’s lobbyist friend Adam Werritty and ‘Plebgate’; it’s only a matter of time before we all forget about the cocaine snorting Lord Sewel and his delightfully debauched antics.  It should be obvious by now that taking an early slap on the wrist and returning after the water is clear is the de rigueur process for humiliated public figures. 

Just maybe, as a result of the seemingly endless conveyor belt of embarrassing political scandals we can start to be a bit more mature about how we view public figures. This isn’t of course, a plea for us to be nicer to our affectionately elected representatives in parliament (sarcasm by the way). But we really do need to start seeing politicians for what they are, people.

I refuse to believe that any adult is genuinely offended by Lord Sewel’s behaviour, with the exception perhaps of his family.  Even the Prime Minister couldn’t hide his tedium when asked to address the scandal whilst in Singapore earlier this week. 

The idea that public figures, especially politicians should be knights in shining armour and conveyors of the highest moral standards is ridiculous. There is a powerful dialogue in modern politics that suggests that MPs should be more like social workers than law-makers. People, who run charity events, make cups of tea for the elderly and spend 95% of their time working in their constituencies. This view is a utopian fantasy of the worst kind. If the public continues to demand glistening MPs we will be condemned to disappointment. Such an emphasis on having a spotless record may explain why so many high ranking members of the cabinet had shadowy careers in the civil service, and not on the back benches.

Perhaps there is a case for outrage if a councillor or politician receives a wildly excessive salary or reliably attends to their public duties under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But it must be one of the dreariest spectacles of modern politics, to listen to MPs gleefully explaining why they don’t deserve a pay rise.  Lord Sewel’s rise to viraldom is certainly embarrassing, but really not that surprising…or shocking. 

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