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October 29, 2013

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Graeme

Not true:

1) Politicians inflame attacks on immigrants and other scape goats. Take the current "health tourism" scare: politicians are either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying.

2) Small business creates jobs too: so who does big business get better treatment?

Rich C

Also, the Civil Rights Bill had made it through Judiciary Committee, and the House had (earlier in the Kennedy years) adopted rules changes allowing legislation to bypass the Rules Committee. So the CRA was advancing by the time JFK was assassinated (he had only sent the bill to the House in June of 1963). Johnson's strong-arming really only came into play in the Senate the following year.

FromArseToElbow

The belief that the government are wrong 'uns is as old as the belief that if only someone could get word to the King, everything would be put right.

By the way, I see no reason to believe that MPs have become more moral over time. If consorting with gangsters was good enough for Bob and Tom, I'm sure it goes on today too. They have to get their coke somewhere, and most SPADs are bloody useless at anything more complicated than a sandwich.

FromArseToElbow

@Graeme, I think Chris's point is that big businesses can offer well-paid sinecures to politicians, not that they create more jobs in the wider economy (though that too is true). Small businesses lack the wherewithal to effectively bribe MPs.

Jim M.

I'm a little alarmed to discover that taking umbrage at MPs' expenses has got me labelled as a "most sanctimonious little prick"!

Also, the attraction of the Kray Twins lay at least as much in their "celebrity" as in their criminality, and our modern day MPs have of course shown themselves to be completely immune to the temptations of "Celebrity", haven't they Nadine?

Anonymous

Yeah, like the current government front bench is all heart.

They wouldn't dream of sacrificing the disabled in the interests of austerity, would they?

rogerh

Very good, the social structures tell all. Some reflection on the likely social profile of say the UK security forces in the 1970s is revealing - what kind of people were say 55 and in a senior position at that time. What careers had moulded them - what were their mentors like. Similarly their opposition. Not hard to see why NI panned out as it did, at least until a new crop moved up.

Similarly consider what is the likely profile of present day senior staffers - what were the social conditions in the mid 1980s - who would their mentors have been - from what stratum were they drawn - what were the burning issues of the time, how have they evolved. Today is not so surprising.

As was said of Tricky Dicky ' he may be a cheating lying bastard - but he's our cheating lying bastard'.

Staberinde

We get the politicians we deserve.

If we always vote for lower direct taxes, politicians will find sneakier ways to raise the money we tell them we want spent on the NHS and defence.

If we always blame ministers for train delays and botched medical operations, don't be surprised when politicians prefer to give responsibility to companies and quangos rather than be held hostages to fortune.

If we march against an 'illegal war' then re-elect the man behind it, don't complain that protests achieve so little.

Finally, we must acknowledge that politicians don't see themselves as mere ciphers for public opinion. They go into politics to 'change things' and 'make a difference' - and they have very specific ideas about what those changes might be. We have to let them achieve some of these things, otherwise there is literally no reason for anyone to bother being a politician. You'll be unloved, poorly-paid compared to your peers, your privacy will be invaded and you'll have to compromise with your funders, colleagues and electors to get a shot at changing anything at all - but at some point you get to do something *you* want; change a law, kick an energy company, start a way, screw the unions, change the school curriculum - whatever.

Arguably, the increased scrutiny our current batch of politicians face would have deterred the likes of Churchill (a drunk) from politics today.

Ultimately, we need to give good people sufficient latitude to convince them that the transparency, compromise and probity the public require of them is worth the pain. I'm not sure we've achieved that balance today, given what I consider to be the poor quality of parliamentarians. I think the better candidates are busy rent-seeking in big business, inventing and investing in tech and shagging anyone they want with little press interest. I don't think we've a Zuckerberg or Schmidt or Jobs anywhere near our parliament. I think Stephanie Flanders would make a more skilled Chancellor than Osbourne, but why should she stand as an MP?

Guano

"If we march against an 'illegal war' then re-elect the man behind it, don't complain that protests achieve so little."

And if the main opposition party was even more in favour of an illegal war, what do we do?

Guano

"But the thing about agreeable people is that they can agree with the wrong folk; this, I fear, was the tragedy (in the original sense) of David Miliband."

Tell us more!

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