Tuesday, 27 December 2016

MPs aren't perfect, but try being them before you criticise

I was prompted to write by one of those annoying Facebook postings with a graphic inviting you to agree with a superficially appealing political or philosophical point that fails to provide any constructive solutions.  In this case

"Our parliament, once the envy of the world, now filled with the vile stench of corporate corruption and greed.  I that what you voted for?"

Now I am as cynical as the next modestly cynical person and I know that the motives of our parliamentarians vary considerably.  Some are undoubtedly attracted by status and power but the vast majority are there because they want to make a difference and do good.  What is most incredible to me is that they put up with so much to succeed; years of long, tedious and sometimes unpleasant meetings in cold church halls, interminable debates with party die-hard constituency members who have not changed their narrow-minded ideas in decades, drinking cheap wine and dining out on another plate of curling cheese sandwiches and Iceland budget party sausage rolls.   And this is just to get elected.  Then they do the same thing over and over again to keep their seats, spending the rest of their lives in draughty committee rooms, cramped shared offices or fighting for a seat in the chamber to ask a question in the debate on obscure legislation that you or I would not understand even if we could be bothered to read it, though will complain bitterly about when it impacts on our lives.  Oh, and I forgot to mention the surgeries where they meet and help some people in genuine need, but also put up with abuse from the disgruntled, and canvassing door-to-door on a cold rainy evening only to be insulted by unwashed and foul-mouthed constituents (I am not saying all the electorate is like this but the few there are, like scum on the broth, tend to rise to the surface).  Occasionally they go home to their families, if they are still there.

Yes, some MPs have shown themselves bribable, some seek highly remunerated positions trading on their status and supposed influence, some get caught with their trousers down (usually trousers, though there have been cases of female infidelity, so that should be skirts or trouser).  But is Parliament really filled with any more corruption and greed a) than it ever was before, b) than any other part of our society where people hold power, c) than politics anywhere else in the world?  If it is, provide the evidence before pouring scorn on our elected representatives.  Otherwise  perhaps better not to point the finger.

Or do we just shine a light on it more, with the help of a venal press who are no less corrupt and primarily interested in selling newspapers and, in many cases, spewing out bile and salacious news to pander to their readers' existing prejudices rather than to inform and supply a public service?

Get real.  If you don't like our politicians, try doing the job yourself and see that the electorate has its own shortcomings; they are no more paragons of virtue than MPs.  The difference is that we seem to  take every opportunity to reflect our own shortcomings on those who do step forward to do this difficult job and criticise them for it.  If you have a biblical turn of mind, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.  Let him, or her, be the first to click "like" on the Facebook page anyway.

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