Profumo points the way past the posh boy image
It was my time at Cambridge which allowed me to strike upon the idea outlined in the title. Oddly enough I can pinpoint the exactly eureka moment. It was not the 20th time a friend rolled their eyes to my response that this evening I was going to a CUCA event (Cambridge University Conservative Society); Nor the moment when I arrived at said event to see a group of a dozen individuals in white tie and tails sporting canes, the majority of whom lacked the background to make such an image even faintly plausible, and at the same time blissfully ignorant of the damage they were doing to the party they professed to support. Instead, it was during a fairly ordinary debate with a group of friends one evening. While the exact political subject of the discussion escapes my memory the persons (sober) response to my point certainly did not, “well at least I don’t want to shoot black people”, “pardon” I asked incredulously hardly daring to believe a highly educated person could articulate such an opinion, after repeating his assertion the person then looked round a rather shocked room, which has now realised he was in deadly earnest, to elaborate with the following, “Well he is a Tory I mean come on…” Then it dawned on me, the conservative party has a negative image unrivalled among mainstream parties. The following is a way I believe this can be altered.
The Profumo affair was a political scandal which occurred in 1963, in which John Profumo, Secretary of State for War Had an affair with Christine Keeler, the reputed mistress of an alleged Soviet spy. Which he followed up by lying in the House of Commons when he was questioned about it, eventually forcing the resignation of Profumo. Here we have all hallmarks of a political scandal, sexual infidelity, lying, the attempt to cling on to office and even an aristocratic background for good measure.
But what you ask does a 50 year old political scandal have to do with tackling the modern stereotype attached to the conservative party? The answer lies not in the scandal itself but in Profumo’s reaction to it. In the words of Peter Hitchens Profumo “vanished into London’s East End for 40 years, doing quiet good works.” These ranged from work as a volunteer cleaning toilets at Toynbee Hall, a charity based in the East End of London, and using his political skills and connections to raise large sums of money for good causes. My contention is that the conservative party should hold itself it a higher moral code than is currently expected in politics, just as Profumo took it upon himself to do. I don’t mean that all politicians should take things to such extremes but instead, that the words personal tragedy and error of judgment, and other forms of political spin should fall from usage never to return. If a politician makes a mistake in his public or private life such as those contained in my example, resignation should be both swift and without fuss
I justify this thus, MP’s are the voice of the nation, there very role is to speak for the people, and are responsible for the fate and future of the entire country on a daily basis. For this reason only the best and most able should be permitted to do so. Able is judged not only on a practical level but a moral one as well, politicians speak regularly on the subject of family values, hard work and integrity, they must do so especially in the currently political and economic climate, and so to prevent hypocrisy they should be made to practise what they preach. How can a person speak of family values in one breath and arrange and elicit meeting with the next? Or argue that hard work and effort its they way out of the recession before exploiting their office for their person gain, and even seek to keep it for offence which would have seen them sacked long since in any other job?
Being an MP is not a job in the barest sense, like most public service it is a vocation, politicians speak of this often enough, if this is true then they would be more than willing to adopt this more stringent code. By the same token the height of their position should provide less protection, not more, mistakes made here are more costly and examples more lasting, as evidenced by the political stereotyping and apathy now present. It is time for MPs to justify the right honourable placed before their names, and for the conservative party to lead the way.