There’s one thing that marks out the modern politician, no matter which party you look at, from their more illustrious forebears. It is their extreme unwillingness to accept personal accountability, and the concomitant extreme willingness to blame others.
That’s bad enough when the blamee, if that word exists, is another politician. That happens so often, especially between different administrations, that we hardly even register it. But when the butt of this unsavoury blame culture is an official, it’s even worse. Public servants have not made any decision to engage in the dirty tricks of the political circus. They are simply trying to get on with their often extremely complex, difficult, stressful and exposed jobs, and have no public platform from which to denounce their persecutors. Once the “open” borders scandal broke, Theresa May lost no time whatever in heaping obloquy on Brodie Clark, publicly destroying his reputation ahead of any investigation to ascertain the facts. Sharon Shoesmith’s fate was exactly the same when it appeared to Ed Balls to be to his political advantage to hang her out to dry over the Baby Peter débâcle.
Today, in front of the Select Committee, Brodie Clark got a public opportunity to expose his maltreatment, for which I suppose he should be grateful since Sharon Shoesmith had to wait an awful lot longer before her partial vindication came to public light at an Employment Tribunal.
In their behaviour, both Ed Balls and Theresa May reveal themselves to be thoroughly disreputable and untrustworthy people, and morally bankrupt to boot. They cared not a fig for natural justice – a particularly devastating weakness in a politician who, as May does, has responsibility for law and order. But then she’s a recidivist in these matters: one casts one’s mind back to her disgraceful posturing during the riots, attempting to adorn herself with the mantle of saviour of Britain’s streets when in fact all along it was the police chiefs who decided to change tactics, not the politicians. Then, at the Tory Party conference, she told what was in effect a bare-faced lie about immigrants and their cats. The more I think about Theresa May, the more I come to the conclusion that she is indeed a very unpleasant woman.
Having said that, I fear we must all acknowledge that we get the politicians we deserve. We want hermetically sealed borders, but don’t want to be delayed more than a micro-second when we return, tired and irritable, from our motorway trek to Calais, or our over-night flight from the Maldives. We want social workers that will spot a potential child-abuser at fifty paces and a decade before he offends, but want them to achieve this remarkable feat without ever enquiring into our own lives, or suspecting us of anything. We want a police force that will never let a crime be committed, but which will never stop us in the street and question us either. We want teachers that will rule schools with rods of iron, but who will never look at our precious little Tyrone with even the slightest frown of disapproval. In short, it seems almost that we want to be lied to, to be deceived, to be colluded with and reassured that we can have as many cakes as we want, and yet stuff our faces with them at the same time. And do so, of course, without ever getting fat.
And so the deceitful, blaming, sound-bite obsessed, unpleasant politician has evolved to provide us with exactly what we appear to want: to be protected from our own foolish and contradictory desires. So perhaps we have no right to moan. Perhaps, even, Balls and May do us a favour by lifting the veil. It still stinks, though. I hope most fervently that Mr Brodie Clark wins his constructive dismissal case. Not that it will make any difference. Theresa May will be far too brazen to resign, and Mr Cameron far too craven to sack her.