Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Flushing away integrity: below the surface, beneath the rules and down the drain with the politicians

cobbled street with drain cover and painted double  yellow lines

With the manhole covers of privilege removed the hidden world of our parliamentarians is not a pretty sight. Peering down into the murky depths the sheer volume of effluent is staggering and the stench is truly appalling. Until recently the raw sewage of political endeavour at Westminster has been filtered and discharged largely unseen and undetected into the flow of national life. This below the surface and beneath the rules outfall was as unknown to most of us as the sewers beneath our streets.

And all the time our politicians have been flushing their integrity and our trust down the drain. The expenses scandal, the Ashcroft affair, the money-making intentions of Byers, Hewitt and Hoon, the freebie trips abroad in return for questions asked in the House, the millions Blair has made since leaving No 10, Cameron and Osborne cosying up to billionaires: politics has been brought into disrepute. Our elected representatives seem enthralled by wealth and mesmerised by the super-rich. And indifferent to the plight of ordinary people.

As the General Election has drawn ever closer our attention has naturally been focussed on the bright yellow lines of legislation and policy which politicians of all persuasions seek to paint across the surface of our national life. It is surprising just how sloppy, shoddy and careless some of it seems when seen close up.  Isn’t it just so sad that these days we suspect that their minds are on other things, money and personal aggrandisement for example, with politics simply the means to their own more lucrative, status hungry and power obsessed ends.

Where are the good, decent and honest individuals with a passion for public service and the common good who will put people first and their own personal gain last? I meet them all the time in the life of our churches. I have no doubt that there are many of them in Parliament. Now, more than ever, they need our support and encouragement and we need them to have the courage to disinfect politics.

The issues which face our nation and our world are grave and pressing. We need politicians of the highest calibre and personal integrity to lead us through. Bullies, chancers, arrogant toffs and hot-air merchants just will not do. We deserve better. And we are not stupid. The power of the ballot box is ours to wield.