Our Own Animal Farm

I am immensely grateful and privileged.

I heard Lord Patten of Barnes speak publicly. By the end of the hour, there were several things that I knew beyond doubt.

This gentleman was well travelled: he conveyed his knowledge through witty anecdotes factual experiences.

This gentleman was well- educated: he could communicate concisely, cleverly using irony and a self- deprecating approach in his explanations. The array of facts at his fingertips was daunting.

This gentleman was eloquent, perceptive, humble and honest– his integrity shone through.

And then we come to the nub: this was a Gentleman. It was superb to hear one after so long.

He carefully carried with him all that used to represent Britain – the standards, the good manners, the attention to detail, the caring for his country. Lord Patten was supremely and effortlessly in control – quiet, gentle control – of his audience and the proceedings.

Thinking back on a this last week of a long running Labour Government, where the private behaviour of our Prime Minister had been published and his actions questioned, I was very aware of the difference. Even allowing for exaggeration and hyperbole, this was a man cut from a different cloth.

I was always taught that, while we aspire to control many things in life, our conduct is the one aspect that we own.   We are granted the power to manage our behaviour. Those who do not exercise this rigidly have chosen not to – have yielded – have thrown in the towel.

But I am not writing about what the book said – or whether it was true or false. What alarmed me greatly, as I watched with awe and wonder, was the attitude of the electorate:  “It doesn’t matter”; “He’s a passionate man.”; “It’s a high pressure job.”

Do people sincerely believe that it is of no consequence IF a person in high office cannot control his behaviour?

I can think of famous golfers and footballers paying very high prices for their chaotic choices.  What populist judgement would be made of a doctor or a teacher who behaved thus – suspension or dismissal? I know of a case where a child in school just had to point a finger and claim abuse, for three teachers to be suspended for two years. They had no right of reply. Eventually, it got to court, when it was thrown out. But in this judicial process, three people who had given their lives to education had their careers ruined. I wonder what the real cost to the Nation was of that shambolic episode?

Moreover, if such behaviour is acceptable, where now are the boundaries?  Have we become so tolerant that Britain could have her own version of Tiananmen Square, and people could justify it? What perhaps angers more is that the Employment Laws so many folk are tangled up in do not apply to our Leaders.

Pigs and Animal Farm spring readily to mind.

And I worry. We, as the electorate, are responsible. But we’re too busy with Facebook and social networking to pay much attention

Besides, who is listening?

©Linda Jane McLean.  6th of March, 2010.

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