Monday, 27 December 2010

Principles & Honour

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
Abraham Lincoln 
The subject of 'principles and honour' is one on which I have posted previously but one to which I return, having been prompted by a 'commentary' piece in today's Daily Telegraph (print edition, as it appears not to be available on line). The article is written by Brian Wilson, Labour MP from 1987 to 2005 - who served as trade and industry minister, under the heading: "Cable's folly hurts his self-serving party the most".
"The problem with Mr. Cable and his fellow Liberal Democrats is not that they are afflicted with a surfeit of high principle. It is that they have more faces than the town hall clock - and a willingness to display whichever one a particular audience wants to see."
The problem is not just one that is applicable to Vince Cable and his fellow Liberal Democrats, it is one that is endemic within our politics today. Until our political elite are able to divest themselves of their wish to be all things to all men they will never regain the respect of the electorate for politics and themselves.

Writing on the subject of Cable's 'openess' to the two Telegraph journalists, Wilson writes:
"Every minister has faced exactly the same problem. There are things going on in government which they, personally, do not like. Yet one thing they cannot do is talk about any of that. It is called collective responsibility."
To anyone with a brain it must be obvious that within the Coalition there are numerous differences of opinion on a number of topics - which begs the question that if those differences are known, why then can they not be discussed? 'Collective responsibility' is just a political ploy designed to attempt to cover up dissension and does nothing to restore principle and honour to politics. By having open discussion on differences of opinion, surely means that (a) the MP concerned then has to publicly justify his level of principle and honour, whilst at the same time allowing his constituents to judge him as a person. It also raises another question, one on which I have also posted previously and this is: just how much are principles and honour coloured by the lure of power and the financial reward that power brings to the individual?

Today in Parliament it seems we have few that have principles and deserve the sobriquet of 'honourable'. Two that spring to mind are Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering and Philip Davies, MP for Shipley. The first has no PA, research assistant nor diary secretary, refuses to pay his wife for her work as he does not believe that would 'be right'. The second believes it his duty to work for Shipley in Westminster and not for Westminster in Shipley whilst also promising to always put the interest of his constituents above that of his political career.

Perhaps more MPs of the calibre of Philip Hollobone and Philip Davies might just restore the trust that the people of this country should be able to have in their elected representatives, coupled with the fact that our MPs would then have earned the right to the title of 'Honourable'?

Just another thought......................


Adam R. said...

To think about what Lincoln said, look at my leader, who forced an ill conceived healthcare bill upon the populace and uses his cabinet appointments to do the dirty work in other areas.

Contrast this with Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia Attorney General whom among others leads the way in the battle against this and other injustices. We have two years of fighting left to do against the former and I want to make sure we never have to deal with any "community organizers" again!

Adam R. said...

In addition, Texas AG Greg Abbott is also leading the charge against the EPA and that race baiting sow Lisa Jackson on the issue of federal regulation of carbon emissions. Texans tend to have backbones of steel, even those who have physical impairments such as Abbott himself.

James Higham said...

"The problem with Mr. Cable and his fellow Liberal Democrats is not that they are afflicted with a surfeit of high principle. It is that they have more faces than the town hall clock - and a willingness to display whichever one a particular audience wants to see."

That's rather good actually.

Derek said...

Yes, and 'collective responsibility' means shut the f*** up and face/talk the same way at my command.

Witterings From Witney said...

Adam R: Understand your problem - seems we have much in common.

JH: Yes, I thought it a superb phrase likewise!

Derek: Well, that's one way to put it!

outsider said...

How poignant that you should quote Brian Wilson on collective responsibility and loyalty a day after reflecting on the limitations of wind power. As Energy Minister, Mr Wilson delivered the infamous Energy White Paper of 2003, which cast wind power as Britain’s main carbon-free future power source and gave no role to replacing or expanding atomic power.
Mr Wilson was a thoroughly decent and well-meaning politician and he could not totally hide the impression that he did not really agree with his own policy. As a fan of windpower, he well knew that costly back-up was necessary. He had also been a supporter of atomic power but had to abide by the Cabinet’s hostility to anything nuclear, winning only the nominal concession that it was not ruled out for ever. He did not disguise the problem that his policy implied increasing dependence on imported natural gas, which is now beginning to cost us.
Perhaps he would have served the nation and his own reputation better if he had resigned and campaigned for what I think he believed in rather than staying loyal to his side and saddling us with an unrealistic policy, which may yet bring power shortages in the middle of the decade.
Your quotation suggests some wistfulness on Mr Wilson’s part about his time in office, if not an apologia.

Alex Ross said...

Funnily enough Philip Davies does employ his wife and pays her a salary, so by your own standards fails the test!

And saying you will always put your constituents interests at heart is very different from doing so...

Witterings From Witney said...

outsider: nice comment and thank you. It is indeed a great pity that he did not take the honourable course of action.

Alex Ross: Not really failing. One says he wont and one does, but at least they sticking to their principles that they have set, which is more than can be said for the majority in the HoC.

And where have either of those two failed to put their constituents interests first?