If we were watching a satirical TV series in which the President of the USA re-tweeted deeply offensive messages without checking their veracity or source, the ability to switch off the screen or choose a different programme might make the events seem like a poorly written script. Because the show would have been poking fun at the so called leader of the free world in an extremely far-fetched manner, some of us might enjoy the programme despite its absurdity. If the programme gained enough popularity, the real life President might even be asked if he had ever been tempted to tweet something outrageous and no doubt the real President would turn that into a joke and move on to the much more important issues such as how to deal with poverty and healthcare, how to ensure that all US citizens feel equal despite the colour of the skin or their gender and how to deal with matters across the rest of the free world. The fact that this is not satire and Trump has chosen to defend himself by suggesting he is not the problem and has called on his press team to claim the real problem is the rest of the world shows just how weird life has become. This is particularly disturbing when in real life, men and women in various positions have lost their jobs for the unprofessional use of social media. Meanwhile back in the UK the recently resigned Secretary of State for International Development has just proposed improving our prospects of a clean Brexit by telling the rest of the EU to “sod off”. This sort of language in public from a leader in virtually any other profession would at the very least bring a reprimand to the person concerned, however the voters in Witham are in no position to challenge Ms Patels words, even though she is paid to represent them. Elsewhere in our country a previous leader of the Conservative Party who was Home Secretary for 4 years and is qualified as a QC has just had a conviction quashed for failing to complete a form correctly, even though he did not fill it out as he should. While he did not design the form himself, it is one of the documents that his old department were responsible for creating. The numbers of people who have been denied justice or benefits because they have failed to complete badly designed forms properly, runs into tens of thousands. Their position in life and wealth however mean that unlike Michael Howard, most simply had to take such matters on the chin.
The truth is that the behaviour of a select group of our political leaders has reached a level that is so low, it is hard to imagine that things could get any worse. A recent analysis of the House of Lords identified around 90 Peers who had voted or asked questions less than 5 times in the year, yet between them had claimed over £500,000, so along with the privilege of being a member of the upper House they have each benefited from an average of £6,000 of public money for their attendance and other expenses. Along with the examples above there are numerous cases such as those of Boris Johnson, Michael Fallon, Damien Green etc who have brought their previously high office into disrepute. Yet behind these people or perhaps above them, there are many MPs, Peers, Councillors and MEPs whose hard work on our account barely gets a mention on TV or in the newspapers. It seems as though we need some way of truly holding our representatives to account and rewarding those who distinguish themselves by working hard in their roles. One person whose name comes to my mind is Frank Field who was elected in 1979 so he has been an MP for 38 years which is a huge length of time. Although I have disagreed with him on many occasions, he has achieved a huge amount of good. The same could be said for the current group of MPs in our City who between them have served a mere 10 years as MPs but all seem to work hard for our city. At a more local level, Tracey Hill is an extremely hard working Councillor in my ward and peers such as Tanni Grey-Thompson and Janet Whitaker do a stirling job on the red benches. They are of course not alone and many others could be listed. It seems that we need to find a way of applauding their hard work, just as we need a way of dismissing those who take unreasonable advantage of their position in our nation and bring the roles into disrepute.