Friday, 1 July 2011
The Next Scandal
One of the most reliable features of political life is who is the next big casualty of British politics? In the past there was a steady and more predictable series of personal disasters, misjudgements or major human frailties that hit the headlines. In recent decades the pace has quickened.
Why that might be so is a puzzle and could be argued as simply the consequence of a more frenetic way of life in the modern world. Or it could be that keeping things quiet and out of sight is much more difficult. One reason for this is a larger and hungrier world media trading in the rise and fall of personalities.
There is the web, but this simply makes the whole business quicker and easier. Instead of taking weeks or months to unfold it can now take hours or even minutes. One feature about the web is that it enables damage to be self inflicted to a much greater degree.
Certainly, UK politicians have often got themselves into a mess with greater ease these days due to the fatal combination of cupidity with stupidity. Make your own guesses as to who I might mean. Possibly, you will all be right, one way or another.
What we are short of these days is the great scandals of corruption and gross malpractice and it really is time to have more of them. It may be that we have come to accept persistent and extensive corruption as one of the norms of our political life.
But it is possible that as the major media are so close to the politicians that they are far more reluctant to chase stories of this kind or to do the work needed to bring out the scale and nature of what is going on.
This is strange because the scale of the leakages and horrific costs of much of the work of our government is now far more than even in the past. It seems to be almost impossible for the State to do anything without expenses that cannot be fully explained or any clear indication as to where and to whom the money is going.
We are left with grubby fiddles, messy personal lives and kiss and tell, or rather kiss and sell stories to keep us going instead of the really big ones of the past. Will we never again see the like of the big scandals of finance, treachery, corruption and foul conduct that gripped earlier generations?
Probably not, but soon, perhaps very soon the next scandal will be up.