Weekly Column

Happy Easter

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Never mind the Easter daffodils. The ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’– the higher you go, the harder you fall- seems rife in politics this Easter weekend. I have no idea at all what Nicola Sturgeon nor her husband have been up to, nor why she resigned so precipitately; I am no fan of Jeremy Corbyn, but he was Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition and a Privy Councillor. Does he really deserve to be humiliatingly deselected by the man who he promoted to the Shadow Cabinet? Equally, I have never thought very highly of President Trump, but wonder whether 34 counts of grand larceny over an alleged pay-off for a prostitute is really the best advert for US democracy; is President Macron’s magnificent sweep from nowhere to the top really finished on the issue of increasing the pension age from 62 to 64; is Boris’s record breaking majority at the 2019 General Election really to be eclipsed by the alleged eating of a Union-flag shaped birthday cake? Liz Truss fell from the heights over a badly explained Budget; Theresa May over her Brexit proposal unveiled at Chequers; Tony Blair fell over Iraq, John Major over sleaze; Maggie Thatcher over local government finance of all things. These and so many others are personal disasters, political earthquakes. But do they really add to the sum total of human happiness?There is something particularly wrong about the use of the Judicial system perhaps for political purposes (Sturgeon, Trump, Boris). If someone is guilty of something, then of course they must pay the price however harsh it may be. The venal backbencher who offered his Parliamentary services to a fake gambling company is paying a reasonable price for his stupidity. But is it really fair that some MPs have been deselected not because they are good/bad/indifferent MPs but because they supported the wrong leadership candidate or were on the wrong side of the Brexit debate? Should a lesser offence be allowed to be exaggerated for party political advantage? And does the vitally important constitutional principle of the ‘separation of powers’ not over-ride any such attempt to use the judiciary for political gain?I was pondering these matters as I listened to the media coverage of the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police laying out how rotten the Met seems to be, with perhaps several hundred officers facing the sack or criminal prosecution for a series of homophobic, sexist or misogynistic offences. Let’s be clear- anyone, whether police officer or not, must pay the full price for crimes committed. And if there are paedophiles, rapists or racists in the Met then of course they must be punished in full. But successive Commissioners also have to answer to the crime of allowing all of this at such a large scale in their beloved Police force over such a long period. And I was disturbed by the Commissioner’s reasoning for the cull which is to come in his force. “The public expect it”, he said. Not “I will root out any wrongdoers”, but “the public expect it.” Apparently they are to be tried not in the law courts but in the court of public opinion. I hope that has nothing to do with saving the Commissioner’s own skin?Surely the whole spirit of Easter should be one of healthy renewal. As we contemplate the mystery of Christ’s Crucifixion and more important his Resurrection; does it not spark thoughts of freshness looking forward; forgiveness; a new start. As we enjoy our Easter egg hunts, watch the lambs gambolling in the fields; see our family and friends for a good roast leg of Wiltshire lamb for our Easter lunch; as we do all of those traditional Easter things, we look forward to the summer to come. Might it not also be a moment for us to try to rise above the personality politics; the knocking of others; the grubbing around in the gutter to find some new and nasty mud to fling; and to try to raise our thoughts and our vision toward what we would like the new world to look like; and what we can do to help make it happen.I wish you all a Very Happy Easter.

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James Gray
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Published Date
April 8, 2023