Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Was David Cameron right about private pasts?

Whenever Cameron was asked if he had taken hard drugs he always parroted out the line that "every politician has the right to a private past" which roughly translated as "yes I have but I'm not going to tell you about it."

But in the run-up to the mayoral elections many people in the media are asking themselves that very same question again. Hints of this were shown in the recent Evening Standard/ Yougov poll. Respondents were asked whether they agreed with the statement:

"The private lives of the candidates for London mayor don't matter to me."

The results showed that the majority were in agreement. But is this the full picture?

Because even if you leave aside the fact that the statement leads respondents to agree with it, I'm still highly suspicious of these figures. Open any tabloid or gossip magazine and you will see that a lust for sordid gossip is as throbbing as it has ever been. 

If one of our leaders is a pervert or a serial cheat then we want to know about it. It may or may not alter our vote, but we want to know about it all the same.

So when politicians talk about the right to a private past, are we really willing to give them that? And is it possible, like Cameron, for them to open the door to some aspects of their lives, but then to close the door to others?

It is of course a difficult area. All of us have done things in the past we are ashamed of. But where do we draw the line between what has happened in the distant past, and is private, and what is happening in the near present and is not? 

And when politicians call for a private past, are they not really asking for a private present. And if that is what they want, then what is it that they're hiding?

Because just as when anyone talks about trust, it's time for you to reach to check your pockets, when anyone talks to you about privacy it's time to reach for your binoculars.

So in the next few weeks and months as sordid details about top politicians inevitably emerge, just ask yourself this one question: "Does this person really deserve to be able to hide this from me?"


angelneptunestar said...

Absolutely ridiculous comment. If we examine past US Presidents, for example George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Buchanan, Warren Harding, F. D. Roosevelt. Among this list one was bisexual, one fathered a black child while married, ome liked threesomes, one was gay and the remainder had several mistresses. And we haven't even mentioned Bill Clinton or John Kennedy.

Did their love lives detract one iota from the good they did as Presidents? NO IT DID NOT.

We have no right whatsoever to poke and pry into the private lives of our leaders and the only really disgusting thing about the Bill/Monica scenario was the prurient interest of the American press and public. The reality of their relationship was private and just boring.

The Tory Troll said...

It is a question which newspapers are asking themselves right now. Whether or not your private life affects your work is open to question. However, you cannot deny that there is an interest in this and always will be. These are important questions. You can have different opinions on it either way but it is not a ridiculous question to ask. Especially when you consider the consequences of some of the incidents you mentioned.

angelneptunestar said...

Tory Troll, there may be an interest, but don't you think it has more to do with living vicariously and prurience than worrying that it will affect someone in their job? It is all about selling newspapers.

A law should be passed that politicians' private lives are off base. (unless they parade their conquests, like Nick Cleggover, is he mad?)

The French have the right idea, and they think we are absolutely pathetic for judging peoles' morality in this way.

We should not expect our politicians to be saints, they are flawed inviduals, as we all are. How many of the reporters poking their noses into other peoples' lives have never strayed themselves?

My strongest objection to the way people judge the private lives of people in the public eye is, you can never really know what is going on anyway. Who for example, will ever know the truth about what happened between Paul McCartney and Heather, or indeed, Paul and his first wife? Will we ever know what really happened between Hilary and Bill? Are you saying you honestly believe the interpretation of these relationships put out by the media?

We are not in a position to judge fairly, and no way does it affect the way someone does their job, so we should stay out of it.

If you tried to examine the lives of all the US Presidents say, for things to disapprove of, you would be hardpushed to find ONE, let alone all of them, who had not offended morality is some way. It is so utterly stupid.

The Tory Troll said...

There would be no surer route to corruption than a privacy law. It would be passed for 'the good of the people' but would be in order to benefit the powerful. You cannot separate investigations which might reveal affairs with investigations which might reveal illegality. As I said, if people start crying for privacy, it's time to start digging.

angelneptunestar said...

I'm not following your argument.