Parliamentary sketch – ….never lead the nation wrongly
The House of Commons commences each day with a prayer. It includes the lines:
“…may they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please,
or unworthy ideals…but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility
to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your Kingdom come and your
name be hallowed…”
Whether it actually moderates the conduct of MPs is itself a matter for debate! But I think it bears repeating; not just in the Commons but amongst all engaged in politics.
On Thursday this week we elect our local councillor representatives.
I came into politics to represent a place and a set of values (equality, social justice, fair dealing, strong environment, honesty, protection of the vulnerable, local regeneration, etc) which reflect the interests and hopes of the place I hoped to represent.
Party politics was secondary. Indeed, yah-boo party political point scoring is a tiresome distraction, even though it’s difficult to avoid. But at least the political parties provide an indication of where candidates stand on the bigger issues of the day.
Yet, even worse than the pointlessness of party political tribalism is a cancer which lies in the heart of local politics – the personal enmities and grudges which seriously undermine the best interests of the people and communities they come into politics to serve.
MPs have experience of dealing with individuals with personal enmities. If they didn’t exist MPs would have to be invented, for therapeutic purposes as a receptacle into which the vitriolic are free to unburden themselves! MPs elsewhere are a honey pot for the crazed, deluded and those possessed by demons – but not in this constituency of course!
But in local politics, it is very frustrating when you witness the throwing away of golden opportunities or catastrophically insane mistakes made because reason and logic have stopped and petulant personal animosities have taken over.
Take, for example, the creation of the Unitary Council for Cornwall itself – something I voted against.
Originally, there was a sensible plan to seek to use local government reorganisation as an opportunity to draw more power to Cornwall (for economic development, environment policy, development strategy, employment, careers and cultural policy, agricultural and fisheries administration, etc) and to devolve power from Truro to local assemblies of town and parish councils (to take control from a menu of powers for planning, parking, street cleaning, dog control, etc).
But it didn’t take long before the debate degenerated into argument, then mud slinging, name calling, soft toys being thrown from prams and before you knew it, the political battlefield was strewn with soiled nappies and arguments so immature that any sane person would conclude that those involved shouldn’t be given any power at all!
The same sea of petulant personal animosities have, in my view, resulted in our communities being denied investment in our towns, harbours, transport links, etc, which we desperately needed.
So, my personal hope from this set of elections is that we elect a team of councillors who work together and can “lay aside all private interests and prejudices and keep in mind their responsibility to improve the condition of all mankind…” without allowing narrow sectional interests or personal enmities to get in the way.
MP for the West Cornwall &
Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives
30th April 2013
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