Is Britain morally bankrupt?
A bad news week for leaders and role models.
One wonders whether the UK press and broadcast media revel in negativism and bad news, or whether we really are in a situation that calls into question the very moral values that should be the foundation of a strong society.
We have just experienced a week in which four of our Parliamentarians discovered that they are about to face various charges under the Theft Act relating to their activities in the ongoing expenses scandal and yet despite not being arrested and having their DNA sampled they contrive to use a right dating back to 1689 and claim Parliamentary Privilege, thereby asserting that they are for all intents and purposes above the law. More curious is the revelation that some of them appear to have instructed the Labour Party’s own solicitors, Steel & Shamash on the case, and this is the same Labour Party whose Prime Minister has vowed to clean up Parliament!
The whole business of Parliament, it’s remunerations, and expenses has become a long drawn out mess which may yet result in some being found guilty of criminal activity, and it seems some in the establishment are contriving to give a two fingered salutation to the public who remain outraged at the behaviour of some of our politicians, I find it astounding but not necessarily surprising.
We here so much about “broken Britain” yet we cannot allow the current broken Parliament to try and repair the damage, this “rotten Parliament” has long passed the date of it’s effective usefulness and the damage and rot has affected all parties, the general election cannot come soon enough to provide an opportunity to install hundreds of new MPs untainted and unstained by the current regime. The Conservative leader David Cameron realise that radical change is required and with the resignation of many of his current MPs also realises that many newcomers are going to arrive in SW1 with completely different ideas about how the place should be run, I join with his calls to see the Commons remaining in their seats, instead of taking a half term break, and debate important reforms NOW before this Parliament is dissolved. That might, just might, highlight it’s place in restoring some moral values to our political leadership, the watering down of reforms already suggested just cannot be allowed to succeed, a new set of rules must be in place before the next Parliament sits.
Adding to my concerns about moral values has been the veritable morass of mess created by John Terry, his mistress, and his lawyers with their “super injunction”, firstly the use of these injunctions placed to stop the reporting of injunctions per se has to stop, the freedom of the press is grossly undermined by such actions from the likes of libel lawyers Carter Ruck acting on the instructions of their wealthy clients. It was with some relief that a High Court judge removed the restrictions on the reporting of the issue, but it opened a whole new can of worms in respect of the “public interest” and the status assigned upon John Terry as “role model” for thousands of young footballers across the UK. Once the revelations were in the public domain Terry should have taken responsibility for his own actions, his own future, and the England team’s future by resigning the captaincy, instead he piled enormous pressure on to Fabio Cappello and the FA to come to a decision, a situation that they ought not to have found themselves in. It was not the actions of the team coach, management or the FA that brought this about, it was the actions of the team captain, and he could have have righted so many perceived wrongs by taking a moral lead, but alas such a weapon was not to be found in the skipper’s armoury.
As a result, we now have new England captain, Rio Ferdinand, who is currently serving a four match ban for violent conduct on the field, but at least he is now considering dropping his appeal against the lengthening of the original three match ban, perhaps, unlike the politicians, he accepts that he cannot be above the laws of the game?
Amongst a group of extremely highly paid professional sportsmen used to the high life and expensive tastes, I had sought to think of a suitable England captain to replace Terry and provide a good role model for our youngsters, but to find one with the right qualities on the field of play and without any taints off it was indeed difficult.
Even down at a more local level here in South Tyneside we see the destruction of previously held moral values by a creeping acceptance of lowered standards even in criminality itself! Murder most foul it seems these days cannot be simply by a head battering, strangulation, or a fatal stabbing, no it needs to be accompanied by weeks of sheer torture and pain, and at a level that even the most depraved might flinch at, and this is not the only case that we have heard of recently involving immoral behaviour. We seem to accept socially a lowering of personal standards and it is little surprise when we see our leaders and those who should be our role models unthinkingly presupposing that their own behaviour is acceptable, these leadership/role model issues permeate downwards from the top rather like a rotting fish until those nearer the tail are also rotting. Local councillors who serve on Police Authorities find themselves transgressing the law, other councillors face the judge to be told that they are an “overbearing bully“, and others find it acceptable to stay away from council meetings for a whole six months yet happily offer themselves for re-election a few weeks after losing office!
When our leaders and role models play a part in breaking society, just what hope is there for the rest of us to repair the breach? The moral compass itself looks to be broken and unable to be repaired by the very man who proclaimed it was in his possession as a teenager:
And so I say honestly: I am a conviction politician. Call it “the driving power of social conscience”, call it “the better angels of our nature”, call it “our moral sense”, call it a belief in “civic duty”.
I joined this party as a teenager because I believed in these values. They guide my work, they are my moral compass. This is who I am.
Thus spoke the man who sold our gold, robbed our pensions, sent soldiers to war with insufficient equipment, watered down the expenses proposals, gave us the largest debts we have ever had, regulated the banks with a “light touch” and complains when they want to pay bonuses (after he declared he would put an end to that culture), and appears ready to offer a peerage to Mrs. Blair after she saved a violent man from prison simply because he had religious beliefs!
So the big questions this weekend have to be
“Is Britain morally bankrupt, is it broke, and are we capable of fixing it with new leadership?”