Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yes Clegg is a cynical opportunist, but just look at the wider world around him.

Political Journalist Iain Martin has written in the Telegraph about the “awful cynicism of Nick Clegg”. I agree with the broad thrust of the article but would extend it more generally. Iain Martin might consider whether the shenanigans at RBS which he wrote about recently could have happened in an earlier age, in the 1960s for example. I would contend not. Businessmen just didn't behave like that then. The 1960s saw the beginning of my business career in Shell. The behaviour wasn't perfect then by any means but it was mostly honourable and decent. Shortly after I retired in 2002 the CEO of the company was marched out of the building and fired. This dodgy Knight (Sir Philip Watts) had behaved in a way that would have been inconceivable forty years earlier. And like Fred the Shred he didn't break the law - or at least he stayed out of jail!

My point is this. Across public and private life behaviour has deteriorated as standards have slipped. The pile of corporate scandals - Enron, Shell, BP, (and that's just the Energy sector!), banking scandals,  scandals in the Health Service, the Police, the Media, Sport - you name it frankly.
There has always been some dysfunctionality in politics (Suez anyone ?) but the culture within which the dark arts were practised was broadly benign and decent in the past. But once businessmen created reward systems for themselves which meant their compensation could fly into the stratosphere then the "anything goes" culture took over at the top, or near it. The world of the movie "Wall Street" became the norm not the exception. Dogs began to eat dogs more than ever. The idea that employers had a moral duty to provide for employees retirement slipped away, as did loyalty to and often (inevitably) from employees.

The governments of the post Thatcher era have been riddled with cover ups, mendacity and self-interest. Clegg has behaved dishonourably - bad sadly he is not alone. And the world within which these deeds have been done, the bigger society we all live in, has become more selfish and more uncaring as well. There isn't an ideological vacuum - there is a moral vacuum and too many politicians are simply part of it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home