Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Let's face it, we're all pretty relieved that David Blunkett's had the guts to resign.

I'm not disputing the fact that people lead complicated lives, and seemingly more so if they're under the public gaze, but I want politicians with integrity.

Do I think every politician has to be lilly-white and angelic? No. Do I think that they have to be perfect? No. Do I think they have to get everything 100% right? No.

So while I'm prepared to give the benefit of the doubt, and forgive to a degree, David Blunkett has broken my trust. And the more he does, the worse it gets.

So he had an affair. I think maybe a lot of people do, and it may not be a hanging offence. But then there was that power-crazed stuff with Kimberly's nanny's visa, and that estate agent woman, the personal letter on government headed paper and now DNA Biotech, and I read a brief mention of some other thing he hadn't checked out with the committee.

I think that sometimes people in the public eye (and I think I bundle politicians with celebrities on this one) forget that they're not in a first class carriage where different rules apply and it's OK to jump the queue or whatever. My grandpa was a JP (magistrate) and he used to say "justice does not only have to be done, it has to seem to be done" and maybe those are words that David will reflect on in the time he will doubtless now be spending "with his family."

Here's a few things I'd like to say to people in public office who take the piss, (and celebrities who think the world owes them a living): no special rules apply. You're just a person elected to enact the people's will, (or a prat who thinks being on Celebrity Big Bonker gives you a licence to bore), and that comes before anything else.

I come from a long line of people who've done some kind of public service, and believe that making your contribution to your community, whatever it may be, might be one of the most important things we are here for. I remember as a kid, a friend of my Dad's who was a part-time chair of an NHS Trust describing himself as having an "outmoded sense of public duty", but I don't think it's outmoded. In the language of New Labour, you have rights and responsibilites, and you don't get one without the other. Public life is a delicate balance of the two. You can't just take, especially when there are very clear rules. I don't even care about the "letter of the law" stuff (he put the shares in his sons' names to replace the inheritance he spent on his younger son's custody battle).

Sometimes, the right thing to do is just very obvious, and no amount of weaseling and squirming can replace that.

Oh, and Steve Bell's said everything I want to say in one image.

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