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Where have all the good politicians gone? Westminster has become so toxic not even Tony Blair wants his kids to become MPs

The former PM wouldn't want his kids in the Commons. Credit: Arcaid/Universal Images Group/ Getty

The former PM wouldn't want his kids in the Commons. Credit: Arcaid/Universal Images Group/ Getty


July 1, 2020   7 mins

Tony Blair has had the most successful career of any politician since Margaret Thatcher. He won three general elections, reshaped the country and became a major global figure, before going on to make a substantial fortune promoting himself and his views around the planet.

So it was intriguing to read in an interview this weekend that he would be “really worried” if any of his children decided to follow him along the path of power in Westminster. In any case, while all his four children were “politically committed”, none wanted to go near parliamentary politics.

Blair bemoaned the declining calibre of today’s political class, adding that it was so poisoned by social media that he would be especially worried if his daughter decided on becoming an MP.

This is a depressing commentary on our times. What does it say about Britain’s political system when someone who so obviously thrived in it, someone who remains an astute analyst of electoral currents, feels so despondent about the harshness of its environment?

The former PM wouldn’t want his kids in the Commons. Credit: Scott Barbour/Getty

We need the best possible people in politics, so it is a problem if there is a dwindling talent pool. Look at the cabinet and there seems an obvious dearth of quality, which may help explain our country’s disastrous response to coronavirus. I asked several leading business figures which ministers they might like to employ; all struggled after a couple of obvious names at best. “The quality has definitely sunk far lower,” said Steve Richards, author of The Prime Ministers: Reflections on Leadership from Wilson to May. “Whatever your opinion, whether Left or Right, this cabinet looks the least substantial of the last 100 years.”

Every generation complains about its leaders; no doubt some Victorian analysts bemoaned that Disraeli and Gladstone were useless compared with Pitt, Peel and Palmerston. There are also always some time-servers, obsequious careerists and dunderheads. But just take a look around the cabinet table and compare that callow collection with the giants seen on both side of the tribal divide throughout the 20th century, many from generations forged by awful war or economic collapse and driven by deep sense of public service. Our post-war education secretaries, for instance, included Quintin Hogg, Anthony Crossland, Thatcher, Shirley Williams, Sir Keith Joseph, Ken Baker, Ken Clarke, David Blunkett, Alan Johnson, Ed Balls, Michael Gove and Justine Greening. Today it is Gavin Williamson.

There are some obvious reasons for this sorry state of affairs. Brexit reshaped the Conservative party, forcing out several heavyweight figures. Boris Johnson runs a highly partisan operation, a sign of insecurity that permits no dissent. Labour endured the Corbyn nightmare and Momentum takeover, which sparked despair among moderate MPs. Both parties have hardened ideologically at local level, so people of differing opinions cannot win selection despite representing swathes of their side’s traditional terrain.

Yet the roots of this crisis go deeper, revolving around the nature of politics in an age of coarsening discourse. One obvious problem is social media, which fuels tribal division and fosters aggression especially against ethnic minority and female MPs. “The abuse I get is horrendous,” said Labour’s Naz Shah. “I accept I’ve made a couple of mistakes, none of which were intentional, but it’s become normal to get horrible stuff all the time. Last week I was told to go back to Pakistan, then told I was racist. You have to have an almost psychotic desire to change the world to endure this abuse. The average person would step away.”

Then there is the changing nature of the job. The Tories have adopted the Liberal Party style of pavement politics over the past decade. This led to a shift towards MPs, especially in marginal seats, serving as local representatives rather than seeking to become national voices. Meanwhile well-connected advisers and A-listers were handed the safest seats. “For the past four general elections, CCHQ has increasingly co-opted safe seats for the favoured view, supplying associations with narrow, heavily-vetted shortlists,” said one long-serving member of the party board. “In the ’92 election a safe seat would often receive upwards of 300 CVs but by 2019 this was managed down to three. Open selections are deemed to carry too much risk as they can’t be guaranteed to produce the right result.”

This Tory said marginal seats reflect the “collapsing attraction” of parliamentary politics — but even winnable seats now receive fewer applications than in previous decades. “Too much risk for too low a status.” Much debate has focused on pay, but politics can never offer competitive rates for talent against worlds such as law and finance. “Successful people are willing to take a step back on salary for status and job satisfaction,” he said. “Strip those away and what is left?”

Their workload, like in so many professions, has increased and comes with a ceaseless deluge of emails — often organised by campaigning charities and pressure groups — and a constant struggle to escape their endlessly bleeping phones. In the chilling words of one female Labour MP: “Who wants to be away from the family and work all the time only to get death threats?” They also face pressure to concentrate on issues of local concern. “Once an MP could have got away with focusing on foreign affairs all the time if they wanted, but not now,” said a Tory backbencher. It is valid to ask whether this blinkered approach, however logical, is always best for the nation’s interests?

Another senior Tory MP put it starkly, with an apology for his pessimism: “The job is about survival,” he said. “It has become very, very attritional which is emotionally draining and physically taxing. It is a state of constant warfare that eats away at your self-worth. You are frightened the whole time — it’s like being under siege. We’ll end up only with people that have rhino skins rather than caring. Meanwhile demands on your time from constituents are constantly accelerating and much of it is not doing the helping of people that gives such satisfaction.”

When I ask this Brexiteer, a respected figure across Westminster, if there had been an impact on the calibre of people in politics, his reply was unequivocal. “Of course it has gone down. You can see that on all sides.” Perhaps the only way forward is to accept the decline and open up cabinet posts from outside parliament, subject to accountability. Yet this feels defeatist and counter to our democratic traditions.

I have met many decent and dedicated people in politics. Yet the prevailing view of the public — inflamed by the scandal over expenses, the banking crisis and Brexit — is to see Westminster as filled with duplicitous self-servers who all deserve scorn. One Tory MP who has focused energy on fighting racism, often in unfashionable areas such as mental health, told me he was frustrated by being repeatedly called racist due to anger on the ground. Such attitudes have been fuelled by the media, symbolised by the idea Jeremy Paxman approached all political interviews asking himself: “Why is this lying bastard lying to me?” Perhaps like many columnists, writing fast in the heat of the moment, I have gone overboard myself at times.

One poll last year found just four per cent of respondents feel properly represented in national politics. Yet studies have found women are only half as likely as men to be interested in standing for political office while poorer, less well-educated and working-class people tend to be less ambitious politically. People with disabilities are rarely seen and woefully failed by Westminster. Efforts to open up institutions, however, seem to have had less impact than expected. This will lead to “an intensification of anti-political feeling and a perceived growth in the distance separating those involved in political life from those who are not”, concluded a 2018 paper for Political Quarterly by academics Peter Allen and David Cutts. “Neither of these things should be accepted
 in a healthy democracy.”

It is too simplistic to solely blame either traditional or social media for the steady corrosion of politics in this country. Both are influential, of course, but ultimately they inflame already existing attitudes in wider society. Now there are reports Downing Street plans to use worsening cultural conflicts for its own political advantage, a selfish and short-termist strategy. Yet as James Johnson, former pollster for Theresa May, told me, the public want to see more political consensus rather than division, especially on the big issues. “I saw this for myself at No 10  — people don’t operate in the partisan bubbles seen at Westminster.”

I glimpsed the hideous strength of this bubble during my brief formal time in party politics as David Cameron’s speechwriter. On the night of the 2010 coalition deal, I suggested to the new Prime Minister that he might exploit the new collegiate style of politics by allowing MPs to speak more freely on issues rather than forcing them to parrot party lines. He paused briefly, then shook his head and said it was impossible.

I remain convinced it is the remorseless spin, rooted in tribalism, that is so destructive for politics and sets the tone for much of the national debate. Ironically, a big chunk of the blame lies with Blair, who made much of Tory politicians’ personal problems under John Major — then unleashed a ruthless spin operation after winning office and deceived the public over Iraq, further eroding public trust.

This combative tribal stance is a world away from the reality of most people’s lives. It is anachronistic in an age in which traditional party loyalties have broken down. It also stops Westminster finding solutions to some of our most intractable problems, such as fixing the social care crisis, building sufficient homes or tackling drug addiction.

One of the finest political initiatives I have covered as a journalist was a prison reform process in Texas that spread nationwide and took the sting from the US criminal justice debate — and it began when a pair of politicians from opposing sides put aside their differences to find a solution to spiralling use of incarceration.

I was struck when Jerry Madden, a veteran Republican, explained to me how they started by working out where they disagreed, laid those issues to one side, then focused on their common ground to fix a problem that had become a costly failure destroying lives.

Is it really so naive to suggest that our own politicians might sometimes put national interests before their own sectarian struggles to solve the biggest issues? In this country, even at this time of grave crisis, our leaders talk of bold change and disruption but fear being challenged or the slightest dissent. And instead of reaching across the divides, we all end up retreating  deeper into our bunkers, fuming with disgust at our foes and frothing with fury over political failures.


Ian Birrell is an award-winning foreign reporter and columnist. He is also the founder, with Damon Albarn, of Africa Express.

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David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

For me there is one outstanding moment that shows just how difficult it is to fix our political discourse. Inevitably it is to do with the vote to leave the Eu as that result was the biggest shock to the political class and one that many refuse to accept or come to terms with.

It happened live on BBC TV at the 2016 Labour Party conference. Clive Lewis was being interviewed on a panel with people who had voted leave along with people who had voted remain and accepted the result while Lewis represented those who wanted the result reversed. Lewis made one simple statement “BRexit was Racist” For him that was it, nothing else needed to be said, no account needed to be taken of leave voters and the result should just be ignored because he had called it racist. There was no attempt to explain why he though this, no consideration of the multiple views that lead to the people voting to leave just an opinion that he had a right to his opinion and everyone else’s should be ignored.

Until we can have reasoned debate this will not change. The process of chanting “racist” along with Transphobia, Islamicaphobia, etc are considered to be debate enders where the person accused must be vilified and degraded until they are sub human must be ended. People need to listen to things they disagree with to open their minds, until that happens nothing will change!

Michael Reardon
Michael Reardon
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Thoughtful column . Wish I could say the same for the responses . My only response is to note that we have failed to deliver a consensual answer to the failure that is social care (please no more reports .. Just action). That pretty much condemns the current generation . Tribalism and reckless ideology in pursuit of power trumps delivery every time.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I think you’ll find that Tony Blair and his cabal of malicious incompetents are to blame for more or less everything that is currently destroying us. I believe Tom Bower will shortly punish a book on this subject, but I have said for many years that New Labour was not only the worst government in British history, but the worst government in the history of western democracy.

John Smethurst
John Smethurst
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

it is already published and lies beside me. “Broken Vows Tony Blair The tragedy of Power” is a shocker. How we give this charlatan any credence escapes me.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  John Smethurst

.?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Unfortunately I recall the arrival of Blair only too well.
Firstly the goddess Fortuna cut down John Smith, the Labour leader at the tender age 55, thus allowing the loathsome Blair creature to slither into the leadership position, almost unopposed.
Secondly John Major’s ruling Tory party was “an absolute shower”. They had never recovered from the treacherous ‘regicide’ of Mrs T, reeked of venality and decomposition. Even their attempts to be ‘more Thatcher than Thatcher’ were unmitigated disasters. The privatisation of the railways was an abject example of incompetence and greed on a titanic scale.
So, the country, in a spasmodic fit of revulsion fell for the smarmy, not to say articulate charms, of public school, Oxford educated Blair creature.
Within days, Blair revealed his true colours when declaiming
his saccharine funeral eulogy, for the late Princess Dianna. Delivered from under an umbrella, from rain soaked County Durham, and on the point of synthetic blubbing, the insincerity and cant was palpable. The nation almost wretched, as the realisation dawned, of what a terrible disaster was about to unfold.
And so it did.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

And then the nation voted for him on two more occasions because the GBE wanted him instead of the Blue Mob….what does that say about the Blue Mob of those days…?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Dawson

They saw the ‘ghost’ of Mrs T in him, something noticeably absent from John Major.
After all, he was an Oxford educated Public School boy was he not?

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  John Smethurst

Because the GBE wanted to….

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Rubbish….Blair was created by Thatcher (she claims it has her greatest achievement) and for 3 elections the GBE opted for Blair and everything he represented….

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
3 years ago

I hated Tony Blair from the moment I saw him, with his fake smile and fake posing with coffee cups, his anti-liberal policies including ID Cards and the arrival of the surveilllance state and his spinning sidekick Alistair Campbell. But most of all I hate him for his policy of mass immigration which has utterly changed this country for the worse in 25 years. Sadly and worryingly, none of this has ever been reversed by the Conservatives.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cox

Quite so.Tony Blair was beyond doubt the most malignant, pernicious, self centred politician ever to grace the House of Commons. He, more than other individual has administered the coup de grace to the great British experiment by his truly divisive policies, including his disgraceful warmongering.
We hanged better men, for less, at Nuremberg.
If there was any justice in this life, he should suffer Damnatio Memoriae, as the Romans would have said.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Oh, you mean the Iraq War….wildly popular…right up until it started to go wrong….the Iraq War…cheered on by Blues and Reds….until it started to go wrong….

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Dawson

Yes the Iraq nano war. Blair certainly couldn’t have done it without massive Tory support.
Wildly popular, really? Are you sure you are not confusing it with the first one?
From a US/Israeli standpoint it was an outstanding success and still is. Just look at the wonderful internecine chaos and slaughter that still reigns. Perfect!
Granted from the UK standpoint all rather humiliating, particularly the epitaph the US military gave us; “The Borrowers”.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Might this be of interest…

https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2015/06/03/remembering-iraq

….support for the war in Iraq right up until the whole thing (unsurprisingly) turned into a sack of s78t.

Ahh, about the command and logistics side of things….might this be of interest…

https://www.abebooks.co.uk/9781441169976/Ministry-Defeat-British-Iraq-2003-2009-1441169970/plp

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Dawson

Many thanks, I shall report back.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Dawson

Well 54% were warmongers, according to the YouGuv pole, that’s hardly ” wildly popular “, and as I mentioned was probably Tory armchair warriors who have never picked up more than a ‘feather duster’ in action!
I only recall lecturing near the British Museum and hearing the rather large anti-war demo noisily marching
past on its way toTrafalgar Square (?). Was it a Saturday?

As to Dr North’s, Ministry of Defeat, absolutely spot on. What a complete shambles, and all so completely unnecessary. The US would have been quite happy with diplomatic and moral support, and neither needed or wanted an army of ill
equipped “borrowers”, commanded by conceited cretins, to muscle in on their nano war.

No doubt those buffoons in the Foreign Office were egging them on with the ludicrous, tired, mantra “Britain must punch above its weight”.Truly pathetic. No doubt also, the ever unctuous Tony Blair and the Campbell creature we egging them on.

I could go on for hours about the Home Made Bombs, euphemistically called IED’s, the number of testicles ‘blown off’, with a leg or two, the awful SA80, and its fully automatic fire capability, and many others avoidable horrors, but it would only bore UnHerd readers to death. Suffice to say far too many young men were blown to pieces or ended up as paraplegics or in wheelchairs.

And then off course there is the Afghan fiasco, but don’t ask.

I

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

“Borrowers” – not a word that is in common use… 🙂

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Dawson

Apparently US military terminology used to describe the poorly equipped British Army!

Taken from a TV series of the same name staring the late Ian Holm amongst others.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cox

ID Cards….supported by more than a few Blues….like the Blues pant to ‘police’ the internet…

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
3 years ago

Irony seems lost on Ian Birrell. As probably the most partisan writer on this site, he constantly attacks the political right for being so themselves.

Perhaps he should consider that Boris did initially grant Remainers places on his cabinet, only to have them stab him in the back at the first opportunity. The reason that the Conservatives are having to appointment Leave supporters is that Remainers, both in Parliament and the Civil Service, spent three years trying to wreck negotiations and stop Brexit. How can they be trusted with that track record?

The same applies to the culture war, which he accuses Boris of planning to escalate for short term gain. The culture war has to date, with a few noticeable exceptions, been predominantly those of the political right been attacked, excluded and even fired by their jobs by the political left. The idea that when the Tories finally stand up to this neo-Maoist witch hunt, it’s an escalation, is laughable.

I agree that politics has become a nasty, partisan place in recent years. But commentators like Ian, seem to pine for a return to the Liberal hegemony, consensus based on the exclusion of all opposing views, which did so much harm to the majority of us who live outside the London bubble.

Perhaps if the political classes had been willing to listen on immigration, on regional inequality, on the total domination of the middle classes in all cultural and political fields. Then perhaps there would not be so much anger in politics right now.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

I want Left and Right to be at each others throats….no more globalist Blue-Red Globalist scum running the parties…

…look at Boris…panting to hand out an amnesty to illegal immigrants…but knows he can’t because the Red Wing (aka Red Wall voters) will never wear that and the MPs voted for by Red Wall voters know that they can never allow an amnesty to take place.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago

‘Our post-war education secretaries, for instance, included Quintin Hogg, Anthony Crossland, Thatcher, Shirley Williams, Sir Keith Joseph, Ken Baker, Ken Clarke, David Blunkett, Alan Johnson, Ed Bells, Michael Gove and Justine Greening.’ And look at our disastrous, watered-down, uncompetitive, not-fit-for-purpose slack-jawed education system. Look at how much that vast complex of waste, inefficiency and mediocrity costs the taxpayer. Well done, marvellous ‘big beasts’, well done. You’ve taken a world-class education system and turned it into a joke. And the moderator made me change Ed’s name, so don’t blame me.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

My sentiments exactly. The vast majority of that list were fools, damned and damaging fools. The only education secretary in lifetime who made any serious attempt to raise the standards of education was Gove.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And Gove only wanted academic standards raised…like just about all of his predecessors….

….Gove didn’t and doesn’t give a s78t about HMG paying for top notch vocational education.

marionhusband
marionhusband
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

Could t agree more – this ‘journalist’s’ list of the names you quoted made me despair that anyone could think they were great politicians, given the terrible state of education since at least the mid 1960s when these oh so clever people decided to do away with grammar schools, probably so their own kids wouldn’t have so much competition.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
3 years ago

Maybe canceling Twitter would help? Not only would it would remove the idiots from the discussion that think less than 240 characters can represent a useful position, it would also remove a much abused mob tool for the identity warriors that have weaponized empathy.

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago

Much of the problem can be laid at the door of the Blair, Mandelson and Campbell trip to “fact find” at the Clinton campaign. Campbell remains one of the political evils of my lifetime. The media both printed and even more so broadcast is woeful and pursues a “gotcha” strategy with little or no investigative journalism. The government has adopted a bunker mentality to some extent of late which I would suggest is to some extent brought on by the perceived actions/reactions of the media. Hugh Pym beginning a question with “are you ashamed…” is a particular low point and the removal of ministers from GMB is worrying but understandable. No leader would allow any member of their team to be treated in such a way. Is it any wonder serious people looking to enter politics for the right reasons are dissuaded from doing so. The treatment on social media which is nothing more than a cesspit is horrific at times. The removal of advertising from facebook and twitter is only to be welcomed. Finally, if anyone thinks the quality of the cabinet is poor I would suggest a look across to the opposition would be instructive. Never have I seen such a paucity of talent on a Labour front bench.

davholla2002
davholla2002
3 years ago

Naz Shah did not make a few mistakes – she tweeted that raped victims shouldn’t go to the police – and didn’t apologize. That is a major error of judgement.

marionhusband
marionhusband
3 years ago
Reply to  davholla2002

Yes, I thought that her comment that she had ‘made a few mistakes’ was risible. She should have been de- selected, but the people who vote for her probably agree with that terrible tweet – even if she did ‘only’ re-tweet it.

tmglobalrecruitment
tmglobalrecruitment
3 years ago

Tony Blair has had the most successful career of any politician since Margaret Thatcher

As a statement that would depend on how you measure success.

His legacy:
Illegal wars;
Mass murder;
Islamic terrorism in this country;
War debt;
Mass migration;
PFI – and we are still paying those shocking charges;
Failed education reform;
Dumbed down exams;
Devolution followed by signing the Lisbon Treaty – one or the other surely;
Light touch regulation leading to the GFC 2008;
Hounding of soldiers;
The tertiary education farce – he copied straight from the US;
Gambling law relaxtions;
A Campbell, the internet enthusiast who used a paper found on the net to lie us into war;
Never ridding the Govt of Mandy – a crime against good sense at the very least.

You clearly have a strange idea of success

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

As I have said many times, Blair doesn’t have a legacy to stand on.

Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell
3 years ago

Surely this is the crux of the matter? Successful political career now means longevity and winning elections, not actually improving anything. Success in politics has become entirely divorced from impact on the ground.

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Mitchell

Quite. There is a lack of conviction politicians today. I’m minded to suggest the last conviction politician to be PM was Margaret Thatcher

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

A perfect indictment of the most reviled PM since Herbert Henry Asquith.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago

“llegal wars..” – fully supported by the Blues in the HoC and voters more widely.
Mass murder..” – see above.

“Islamic terrorism in this country” – spot on…thought Blue HMGs have done nothing about it.

“War debt” – Yep…more than fair comment.

“Mass migration” – Yep…and fully supported by the Blues including the Home Secretary busy running a taxi service to shift illegals across the Channel & a Blue PM determined to have an amnesty for illegals.

“PFI – and we are still paying those shocking charges..”

PFI created by the Blues and used with wild abandon by Reds and Blues (it wasn’t that long ago the NHS was told that PFI was the only game in town when it came to paying for the upgrade of the Royal Liverpool – a Blue HMG). And not a single MP (any Tribal colour) has complained at the time of building that the new ‘X’ in their area was funded via PFI.

“Failed education reform…” – Blues and Reds for decades have ignorred the need to fund top of the range vocational education.

“Dumbed down exams…” – GCSEs introduced by a Blue HMG in the face of opposition from the Teachers Unions who warned that coursework would be difficult if not impossible to police. The PM of the day decided to ram through the introduction of GCSEs to avoid looking ‘weap’ in the face of TU comments.

And as ‘results kept rising’ all MPs cheered on the ‘improvement of standards’ in the schools in their area.

“Devolution followed by signing the Lisbon Treaty – one or the other surely” – Without a Blue PM ramming through the Single Europe Act, there would have been no Maastricht or Lisbon Treaty (the SEA is the enabling act that allowed the creation of the modern EC & EU from a UK viewpoint).

Devolution, yup..not the best idea.

“Light touch regulation leading to the GFC 2008…”

The lightness of the regulation being cheered on by the Blue Mob…in fact, just before the GFC, the Boy George was in Dublin shouting the UK should be more like Ireland…

“Hounding of soldiers…”

Yep….but if apparently credible accusations are made, if you think the state should follow the law, you’ve got to accept investigations (even through gritted teeth)….and the Blues aren’t exactly friends of HM Forces either.

“The tertiary education farce – he copied straight from the US…”

Not exactly, but the reforms put forward by the Reds were cheerfully accepted by the Blues…tell me, what is the level of tuition fees…

“Gambling law relaxations…”

Supported by a chunk of Blues and os-gambling still allowed…

“A Campbell, the internet enthusiast who used a paper found on the net to lie us into war…” – Yep…AC….a total s78t-house…but at PC levels the PM, HMLO etc all see similar intelligence briefs….the Blues said nothing….it was left to the Press to point out how much of a c78t AC was.

“Never ridding the Govt of Mandy – a crime against good sense at the very least.” – Totally agree….and best all MPs be careful about which donors they meet…

Julian Hartley
Julian Hartley
3 years ago

There is a vocal and growing movement of people who claim that ‘mass migration’ is a racist and fallacious term. I am not looking forward to the rewriting of history to come.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

“Much debate has focused on pay, but politics can never offer competitive rates for talent against worlds such as law and finance.” True, I suppose, but then lawyers in particularly are over-represented in parliament anyway.

One reason that the state functioned with such efficiency in this country in what now seem like the halcyon days of the quarter century after World War II was because public sector jobs were well paid, and those who did them mostly respected. It was a fairly proud thing to be an MP in the 1950s, and an even prouder one to be a civil servant.

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago

Interestingly we had the strange spectacle of Piers Morgan (a journalistic evil of my lifetime) asking Matt Hancock if he would take a 20% pay cut as the PM of NZ had. A look at the disparity between the NZ PM’s package and the UK PM says it all and supports your comments.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

The UK PM makes their wedge after they’ve been office….who gets the call to speak…a former NZ PM or a former UK PM….

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

I’m afraid you are deluding yourself if you think that the twenty five years after the War were “halcyon days”, and the “state functioned with such efficiency “.
These were the days of Exchange Controls and countless other state interventions in nearly every aspect of daily life. All this, off course, a hangover from Wartime controls, controls the state was extremely reluctant to relinquish.
True the Prime Minister was paid more in real terms than today, but not so, most Civil Servants, who toiled in anticipation of a decent pension, but were reviled by the public for being idle and rude, as they are today.The ” Man from the Ministry was the last person you wanted to see or hear.
A soupçon of our disasters would include
British Rail, The Aviation Industry, The National Coal Board, and the brutal town planning that wrecked so many of our bucolic county towns and cities.
Fortunately more me, it was a continuous round of Enid Blyton summers, heading for Cornwall on either the famed Atlantic Coast Express or the somewhat sluggish Cornish Riviera Express. However I clearly recall how my parents and others fulminated about use us ‘ Loosing the Peace’ to excessive government interference.
The denouement of all this was when Dennis Healey, a former card carrying member of the Communist Party, no less, but now Chancellor, abased himself and grovelled before the IMF in 1976.
Sic Gloria Transit Mundi.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

One could say the same of journalists, civil servants, bankers and most other professions. I attribute the blame partly to the education system and substantially to the system of money creation, which has destroyed all morality and accountability.

On the whole it is very difficult to have any sympathy for the politicians. For the most part they have behaved disgracefully, for many years. The Labour mob, in particular, are perhaps the most dumb and repugnant collective this country has ever witnessed. As David Holland points out below, Naz Shah and many others are open in their support for the grooming gangs. The Lib Dems are little better and many Tories openly revealed their hostility to democracy in their desire to overturn the Brexit vote. Thankfully the worse Tories have now departed.

Between them, these fools have failed to get rid of the HoL (for obvious reasons), failed to instill any competence or accountability in the civil service and wider public sector, and failed to deliver functioning or suitable systems for transport, education, welfare, social care…you name it. And that’s before you get on to the grotesque and murderous disasters of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

Ah yes, the politicians that sanctioned benefit seekers without looking at the civil servants that waste billions in Public Health England and the MoD, to the point where we now have to scrap our amphibious warfare capability and some logistics (!), and suffered unduly from a virus to the note of tens of thousands dead.

Now, Cummings is going after the “start at £40,000, end up at £500,000” civvie servants, and there is no escape for the “first class” incompetence service.

As far as I am concerned, the calibre of politicians is going up. Patel will restrict immigration, Boris is backing Cummings, and the tories are finally listening to people in the North.

Just try and treat benefit seekers better. I know some that have been forced through the courts and finally allowed to just get on with volunteering in a bid to find work, and now one of them, after much hassle, is trying to get a charity out of a rather large amount of debt (the paid charity executive’s fault). I don’t want to see one more “benefit seeker death” headline, I’d rather see “mass firing of civil servants that compromised our country’s defences” on the front of the Telegraph.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago

Define how a Civil Servant can waste billions…in the MoD….give an example of the waste of billions that is the fault of the Civil Service alone…

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago

“Patel will restrict immigration..”

Nope….

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago

I notice you’re still silent about how CSs wasted billions….surely you’re not thinking of FRES…that was the MOD Very Senior Brass…..

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

I was only saying to Mrs U the other day, how appallingly low the quality of our current politicians is, so naturally I agree with the thrust of this article. It’s a bit unkind, though, to accuse Boris of insecurity: the anti-democratic actions of Remainer Tory MPs over the past four years left him little choice but to appoint like-minded ministers. Amber Rudd’s appalling disloyalty last autumn should make that obvious.
Blair certainly has a lot to answer for. His Cool Britannia explicitly denigrated the experience, patriotism and tradition that was the foundations of our shared history and our institutions. His iconoclasm caused immense damage – we’re still trying to complete the House of Lords “reform” that he started without having any idea of how he wanted it to turn out. He deliberately stuffed our institutions – universities, quangos, major charities, the judiciary – with fellow Common Purpose travellers.
The creation of “arms-length” bodies and regulators to run just about everything – the NHS, Charities Commission, Electoral Commission, Of-this, Of-that – was trailed as removing party politics from operational decision-making but has just had the effect of insulating ministers from the failure of public services. (Though, of course, they take the credit on those rare occasions when things go well.)
The 24-hour news cycle started the job of trivialising politics and reasoned debate that social media has now finished. The growth of identity politics, another Blair idea with its roots in multi-culturalism, has spawned the arrival of grievance politics and an ever-decreasing desire, never mind ability, to see the other person’s point of view. No-platforming, cancel culture and wokeism is the result.
That’s my analysis. I’m afraid I don’t have a remedy.

Marco Federighi
Marco Federighi
3 years ago

I have very little respect for most politicians because of their tribalism. It is unthinkable that an MP will admit to having been wrong, and more specifically to have been wrong about an issue where the other side was right. Normal people of normal intelligence change their mind and this is not seen as a sign of weakness; in politics, that isn’t the case. I don’t believe that MPs are stupid – they act stupid because that is the prevailing adversarial and tribal culture at Westminster. Still, I see no reason to respect that kind of behaviour.

NIGEL PASSMORE
NIGEL PASSMORE
3 years ago

Just out of interest, here is a list of Margaret Thatcher’s first Cabinet in May 1979 and Boris Johnson’s first Cabinet in December 2019. Of course, some roles have changed and some added. I thought I’d leave it like for like so there are a couple of ommissions from both (see last paragraph).

As they are the natural party of Government (and in Government) I have chosen a Conservative comaprison. If you think this doesn’t look impressive, you might also be interested to compare Tony Blair’s first Cabinet in 1997 with Sir Keir Starmer’s current Shaddow one. You might also keep in mind the current Conservatives have been in joint or sole power for ten years so they have had a decade long well of Minsiterial Experience from which to draw:

Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher v Borris Johnson
Chancellor of the Exchequer – Geoffrey Howe v Savid Javid
Home Secretary – Willie Whitelaw v Priti Patel
Foreign Secretary – Lord Carrington v Dominic Raab
Lord Chancellor – Lord Hailsham v Robert Buckland
Chief Secretary to the Treasuary – John Biffen v Rishi Sunak
Agriculture Secretary – Peter Walker v Thersa Villiers
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – Norman St John-Stevas v Michael Gove
Defence Secretary – Francis Pym v Ben Wallace
Education Secretary – Mark Carlisle v Gavin Williamson
Employment Secretary – Jim Prior v Theresa Coffey
Secretary of State for Energy – David Howell v Andrea Leadsom
Secretary of State for Environment – Michael Heseltine v Theresa Villiers
Secretary for Health and Soc Security – Patrick Jenkin v Matt Hancock
Secretary for Industry – Keith Joseph v (role split between Andrea Leadsom and Therese Coffey)
Secretary for Northern Ireland – Humphrey Atkins v Julian Smith
Secretary for Scotland – George Younger v Alister Jack
Secretary for Wales – Nicholas Edwards v Alun Cairns
President of Board of Trade – John Nott v Liz Truss
Lord Privy Seal – Ian Gilmour v Baroness Evans

Current Cabinet roles Roles such as Women’s Equality Minister, Housing, Transport, Brexit and Minister without Portfolio either did not exist in 1979 or were not cabinet positions.

Make of it what you will.

Regards

NHP

mccaffc
mccaffc
3 years ago

It makes no sense to bemoan the quality or complete absence of political discourse while thinking that the nature of politics is to solve issues. Politics – polis. The clue is in the word. What is described in this article is the abandonment of politics and its replacement by petty squabbles between people wanting to be the one seen to solve a customer’s (hardly a citizen’s) issue.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

“…Where have all the good politicians gone?…”

Into the private sector where they don’t get hectored for their views by the media, where they can go where they want, see who they want and pretty much do what they want. And also receive a much better salary.
Who on earth would want to wake up and deal with a poorly educated and poorly trained media intent on revealing your every move in the hope you make an error, or revealing some proclivity that lay buried in the strata of years of tweets and facebook posts so you can be crucified on the cross of depravity.

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Perhaps Steve Webb is a classic example?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

It is Journalist Fault for trying to get A ”Scoop” ,Voters for Not voting in More Independents(Martin Bell, Dr Richard Taylor excepted.)
),tribalism, It the Whips office for Not allowing Democratic dissent eg 1991 John Majors six line Whip on Maastrict treaty,he ignored the need for A Referendum,on Constitutional change.. Boris latest Rant against ‘Planning Controls’ threatens Our disappearing Countryside with Massive Housing, he helped destroy London’s Skyline. Civil Servants have Also declined they were meant to be Non-political, as per Judiciary ,Police,BBC thats long gone, and Finally blaming ‘Brexit’ IS Totally lazy and ignorant..The Author is Part of the problem..drinks all round lunchtime O’birrell?

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Don’t forget in Bell’s case…it required all the other candidates, with the obvious exception of Hamilton, to urge their supporters to vote for Bell to get Hamilton out…that is why the RoR is so great now…

BG Allen
BG Allen
3 years ago

The political climate in the Western world has become so toxic because of social media that good people value their family too much to subject their family to the outrages they will surely suffer from the social media mob. So, we are left with politicians that will bend to the whipsawing mood of the mob as it appears to be incredibly painful to stand up for principle that is not “mob-approved”. Good people, who care deeply for their families and friends, will surely hesitate before subjecting them to that vitriol. Unfortunately, that means that our governments are too often bereft of true statesmen and we suffer as a people because of the lack of politicians of courage and principle.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago

This is pseudo-scientific drivel. This authors grasp on reality is tenuous to say the least, and once again completely devoid of true understanding. They still cannot grasp why Britain is like it is today. (Both the media and the politicians) They are so arrogant as to think they know why people voted Brexit, so arrogant as to imply that Blair and Cameron where “a higher” class of politician, so arrogant as to think that the blame can be laid on the false claim that we have an “inferior” class of politician today.
Please allow this low-life, sub-species of invertebrate (one of the 17.4 million) to put you straight. The British people have rejected “globalism”. We want no part of their unaccountable, centralised, power structure, their Marxist ideology. We want nationalism, and democracy in it’s true form. We want a nation whereby the political class are there to serve the people, not vice versa. We want full accountability from the so-called “superior” political class. A class of elite gangsters who were legitimized by a corrupt judiciary, over many decades. They were completely out of control. The vast majority of Brits are completely behind Dominic Cummings for beginning to “draining the swamp”, and just like the USA, we need to start purging the corrupt judicial system, media, and Intelligence agencies of it’s rotten fruit. They are harming this country.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

It took 40 years for the GBE to decide to reject globalism…..

nickrobmac
nickrobmac
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Dawson

Funnily enough it happened a short while after China was brought into the fold of world trade. Call me crazy but adding 1.4 billion people to the global workforce who are willing to work for peanuts was always going to upset the apple cart. This has caused a huge shift in the manufacturing base from West to East and people are now feeling the effects of that. Can’t blame China, they are just doing what is in their best interest. Also interesting how Brexiters tend to bang on about free trade, but it’s free trade that got us to this point in the first place.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  nickrobmac

Yep…and some long-standing Blue Tribal Voters still haven’t realised that Nigel F. has reversed UKIP (Red Wing) into the Blues….

…and those New Blue voters….expect to be listened to….lots…

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

Globalists aren’t Marxists..anything but….they are Corporatists….

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

Draining the swamp doesn’t mean swapping one set of tools with another you agree with….

…look at Boris J….appoints his besties to run HMG…along comes COVID and then Boris J and SpAd 1 decide that the man appointed to be SoS Defence…possibly the second most sensitive position in the UK, isn’t to be trusted when it comes to joining in the conference calls about COVID planning….

…what does that actually say about the loons in No. 10…

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Dawson

There are only two sets of tools. Corrupt tools, and honest tools. I want to replace that “swamp” with honest people who do the job of representing us openly and honestly, with full transparency, accountability, and openness. In order to do that, there needs to be an honest justice system, and we do not have that in this country.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago

Umm, where is the argument in this article? You start off discussing Tony Blair (though you use “their” so it’s not clear if you’re talking about the whole family or just being painfully woke in describing Tony Blair), then enter a rambling discussion of the current life of politicians with random pot shots at the current Conservative Party. There’s no link back to anything related to Blair. This all reads like a pot-induced rambling whinge. The challenges faced by current MPs really aren’t all that different from those faced by most people with moderately successful careers.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

As alluded to above, the trouble with politicians in the UK today is that they are forever chasing the ace on the latest issue, constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve in something that they never can and will do. Whenever in the spotlight it comes down to them desperately trying not to cause a gaffe or say something out of line.

Various tactics over the past few years have been tried. It’s why politicians ere reduced to soundbites and repetitive scripts “all in this together”, “get brexit done” – not to mention examples of it going wrong such as that eerie video of Ed Milliband repeating the same slogan over and over. Stay on message, don’t f*ck up.

It appears as though Trump and his team are actually one of the first to truly “get” how the modern media (social and traditional) works, and come up with a way of negating it. He simply says everything and anything.

As an example, when he visited the UK, he gave multiple opinions on Brexit; in favour, against it, saying Britain will get a deal, then saying they’d be back of the line. Brexiters and remainers all heard what they wanted, the conversation went round and round, and the news moved on. But the price of fish remained the same – nothing changed and nobody was any the wiser.

The detractors will always focus on what they want, the supporters also. By filling the void with everything it becomes white noise, and the urgency, pressing nature of “news” is virtually negated, as before anyone has worked out what’s going on, the record has changed.

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 years ago

The Media have much to answer for . The Media questioners get very well rewarded for doing a very poor job. Their questioning is aggressive and unpleasant designed to diminish the politician . So after a bit intelligent people give up and go elsewhere – leaving the narcissists and the unemployable in politics.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago

‘Our post-war education secretaries, for instance, included Quintin Hogg, Anthony Crossland, Thatcher, Shirley Williams, Sir Keith Joseph, Ken Baker, Ken Clarke, David Blunkett, Alan Johnson, Ed Balls, Michael Gove and Justine Greening.’ And look at our disastrous, watered-down, uncompetitive, not-fit-for-purpose slack-jawed education system. Look at how much that vast complex of waste, inefficiency and mediocrity costs the taxpayer. Well done, marvellous ‘big beasts’, well done. You’ve taken a world-class education system and turned it into a joke.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago

It is perhaps impossible to understand the decline of representative politics without also understanding the rise of the bureaucracy. In two decades of corresponding with MPs the conversation always came to an end with a bland reassuring letter from a junior minister – prepped by their civil servants – whatever party the MP was in or whatever party was in office. I have no doubt Blair is hugely responsible and that matters will become even more brutal under the direction of Dominic Cummings. Blair doesn’t like people being angry with the political class but the problem with political class is that it is almost completely detached from the realities of people’s lives. So, obviously the thing to do is to stop people having their own opinions!

martinpearcewriting
martinpearcewriting
3 years ago

“Ironically, a big chunk of the blame lies with Blair, who made much of Tory politicians’ personal problems under John Major”…

This is true, and Major had teed it up for Blair with his ‘Back To Basics’ slogan, which was predictably misinterpreted to become a call for a kind of puritan style morality.

The result of this is ever more press intrusion into the personal lives of politicians. It may well be said that this is fair enough, but why would anyone of calibre subject themselves to this? Unless they themselves are professing to be squeaky clean, MPs’ private lives should be just that.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago

It’s not the private lives per se…it’s when one c78t of an MP stands up and spouts on the evil of ‘X’ in public when partaking of ‘X’ themselves in private…

jamessykes3011
jamessykes3011
3 years ago

Could you explain when writing your list , every single politician was referred to by their first name and surname , bar Margaret Thatcher.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago

As Denis Healey famously said, Politicians require a “hinterland”.

When you compare today’s crop with former generations of parliamentarians the difference is stark. In years gone by, most MPs stood for election having already carved out a career in another sphere. They had interests and expertise, and – perhaps most importantly – they had lived a life among non-political people. This gave them a perspective wholly lacking among those who went straight from school to studying PPE (probably at Oxford or Cambridge), then onto a stint as a SpAd or another form of internship within politics before then, inevitably becoming an MP.

What can such people know of life, when the only experience they have of meeting people outside of the Westminster bubble is when they are holding surgeries or canvassing votes?

The ability to talk at length, cogently and persuasively, on a range of topics was once a revered skill – no longer. Holding to the party line and not being too obvious when it comes to not answering a question are seen as indispensable attributes for the successful modern politician.

Few modern politicians are allowed to speak their minds freely without courting controversy or ending up in front of the Chief Whip for “an interview without coffee”. Those who have lived a rich and colourful life will probably have a closet rattling with too many skeletons for them to reach high office, and so we are left with merely the ambitious.

I have no doubt that most people who enter politics do so with a view to public service – but how many (possibly better) other people would look at the calibre of their would-be colleagues and decide not to?

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

In this ‘digital media’ age, I wonder if a prospective MP will do a ‘reverse ferret’ and dump anything that might reflect poorly on them, at the moment they stand for office…

…sort of saying to voters,

“Look, take it or leave it….I’ve done this load of s78t that isn’t to my credit…but I reckon, you might want to read this bit of the ledger….”

Oh, and I was a young man, I thought ‘X’ but now I reckon ‘Y’ because I’m older and things have changed for me….as I said, take it or leave it..”

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
3 years ago

Has the author ever considered that all women shortlists have contributed by not allowing the best person to be put forward?

Martin Byrne
Martin Byrne
3 years ago

Cultural conflicts need to be addressed, if the government do it for a cynical gain, who cares? Ordinary people want to see issues dealt with rather than this tv media nonsense of repeating loony tunes off social media without any challenge. Why would any politician stray from the party line and provide some free thinking comments when they know full well that large chunks of the media will use it to attack this side or the other, it is not politicians that drive the quality of debate that the public see, it is the media, and if the quality of politicians is falling it is it is certainly not falling at anywhere near the rate of media people quality. Look at the coverage given to BLM by the premier league and the media, not a single searching question of what the movement is about! Too much of the media want to set and control the news agenda, rather than provide balanced coverage and reporting. Until that changes do not expect politicians to take risks, or ordinary people to respect either institutions

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Byrne

The Media rip the s78t out of MPs because MPs are still of the habit of shouting one thing while doing another.

Howard Medwell
Howard Medwell
3 years ago

Let’s not forget that Parliamentary democracy in Britain exists, not in order to express the aspirations of the people – which are changeable and contradictory – but in order to ensure that a strategic minority of the people remain generally contented with the capitalist system.
Mrs Thatcher achieved this by council house sales – unusually, her remarkable individual personality was a factor in the political change brought about during her period in office.
Tony Blair’s “personality” wasn’t a factor at all: his function was simply to continue the 1979 consensus with a few more up-to-date frills. (Right-wingers complain about immigration, but the immigration under Blair was a direct result of Mrs Thatcher’s abolition of militant trades unionism, which Blair did nothing to change).
Since 2008, it has been more difficult to persuade voters that capitalism offers them and their children a secure future. This explains the rise of Corbynism in the Labour Party, and the lurch of the Conservative Party towards a Brexiteer position.
The more talented and self-assured personalities are no longer attracted by politics, because politics has become basically hopeless.
A nice, comfortable “centrist” political environment is what we had before 2008, and the admirable politicians (well, some of them) listed in this article could only thrive in that environment. I fear we shall not see their like again.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Howard Medwell

Brilliantly cynical – top notch.

Andrew Russell
Andrew Russell
3 years ago

Blair created the environment for the current state of affairs in parliament and the media. Venal and shallow – it doesn’t matter how much you mess the economy up, how many illegal wars you start, how many lies you tell: there are no consequences for their actions. Only a comfortable well-paid retirement flying around the world giving speeches about how wonderful democracy is. When the people who have power have something to lose, things will change. At the moment it’s quite clear they don’t give a f**k about anything except themselves and their money.

perthside
perthside
3 years ago

All so very true. I have just watched the series this and last week on Margaret Thatcher. Apart from the good lady herself there were so many top quality educated and principled people in those days. I also could say the same for most of Tony Blair’s cabinet. Why and where did it all go so wrong? I do not agree with most of that governments policies but that is another matter. I do believe that some of the problem can be blamed on the fact that so many now in parliament are not British in the true sense of the word. They have come up through the ranks of mediocre universities and whilst well meaning do not have the in depth knowledge and sense of loyalty to this great country. Yes it is admirable that the son of an immigrant bus driver can become a chancellor but in many ways that in itself highlights the absolute dearth of traditional home grown talent. The chaos and sheer incompetence displayed by the current crop in trying to deal logically and professionally with the Covid crises really says it all. But we are where we are and we will muddle through I guess but I do despair for my grandchildren who are just entering the workforce.

Silke David
Silke David
3 years ago

I believe the whole political and administrative system needs to change from a London based central government to more responsibility given to regional whatever you want to call the institutions. I voted against it because of additional costs when it was proposed a few years ago, but Corona and it’s incompetent handling proves that a central government for England does not work. I would like to see a German style system, and lower parliament and house of Lords removed and a new “overseeing” body introduced.

David Waring
David Waring
3 years ago

” Is it really so naive to suggest that our own politicians might
sometimes put national interests before their own sectarian struggles to
solve the biggest issues?”
Sums up the Naivety of the so called Commentariat.”
The Political Class are all irredeemably corrupt and corrupting and are gifted a free ride by the MSM.
200 young Sikh girls abused by Labour supporting Islamists.
over 6,500 young white girls similarly victimized.
The latest is 44 young Scottish girls have been added to their tally.
What have the MSM done to hide these crimes? They have done a great deal.

jdcharlwood
jdcharlwood
3 years ago

Of course in the opera DG didn’t actually get laid! But as Kierkegaard said ‘Hear, hear, hear Don Giovanni’!

Stephen Crossley
Stephen Crossley
3 years ago

1) Regarding MPs’ workload: Pre-social media an aspiring politician’s only baby-kissing duties would be restricted to the few weeks leading up to a general election. After securing a workable majority the views of the general public could safely be ignored day-to-day leaving MPs time to implement policy and craft the appropriate legislation. We are fortunate to have a leader with the personal charisma to carry the popular mood in the intervening period without having to respond to every whim of the Twitterati. Hire interns to answer your emails and get on with the job that you were elected to do.

2) On the quality of the current cabinet: If you sack all dissenters and hire only yes men and women don’t be surprised at the result. Exhibit A from across the pond in the form of the current US Attorney General William Barr has to be the ultimate example of what you are left with at the bottom of that particular barrel.

Gonzalez Girl
Gonzalez Girl
3 years ago

The Scottish Parliament is thankfully very different. Perhaps the answer is devolution for England and the chance to build a modern parliament based on a new constitution with access and participation at its core. The Federal states of the UK could then be co-ordinated to work collectively when necessary by a President – that is, if Independence in Scotland and re-unification in Ireland doesn’t happen first !

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Gonzalez Girl

The monarchy and the surrounding apparatus is a constant living reminder to politicians that they are not at the top of the tree, but part of something bigger.

Our current head of state has been exemplary at serving and an example to all those who seek power. At 94 years of age she is still working hard representing the UK, a full 34 years after other ladies her age will have retired. What happens after she passes – nobody knows what course it will take.

But in principle this is a healthy system. And we are in good company; the Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Spain are all fundamentally democratic – but have a monarch at the top.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

The Queen is admired because she says absolutely f78k all about anything at any time…

…imagine if HM announced she was a Leaver or a Remainer….

….or imagine if HM had to make the decision about benefit levels…

…the lustre would soon come off her…