This month has seen the world lose two of the most decent and principled people ever to grace the political stage. Both were men of stature, firm belief and conviction. Both believed that to serve others was the pinnacle of their duty as human beings.
Both were, quite simply, good men.
The first of them, Sir Alex Fergusson, was the former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. The Tory MSP was a farmer, a folk singer, a tireless campaigner and a man of enormous compassion and good grace. In truth, he didn’t suffer fools gladly and at times could resemble a pressure cooker ready to blow its top as exasperation grew at someone or other’s inability to see sense……but he always kept control, remained gracious and never played the man. He had the ability to tell you where to go in such kindly terms that you almost looked forward to the trip.
A son of Eton, but a man of the people who acquired the nickname of Hercules, such was his stature and bearing. He would have been utterly embarrassed to hear all the tributes paid to him at his memorial service a couple of weeks ago. But he would also have been secretly chuffed to bits to know that he had made a difference to the lives and fortunes of so many.
“Hercules” would also have dismissed out of hand the notion that he should appear in the same breath, never mind the same article, as the Colossus who died on Saturday, John McCain. The former US Presidential candidate, a former POW who refused to be released until his men were freed too, was from the same mould. He too was a politician who argued his corner with vigour but never denigrated his opponents. Famously, at an election rally when he was running against Barack Obama for the White House he rejected a supporter’s suggestion that his opponent was untrustworthy because he was “an Arab”.
“No”, McCain replied as he gently took the microphone back and shook his head at the misplaced slur. “He’s a decent family man and citizen whom I just happen to have disagreements with”.
The Senator rose above the malign dog whistle politics too often tolerated and indeed promoted by others in his profession. The gutter guff which has become all to prevalent by far too many.
Just like Sir Alex, he was better than that. Because he, like Hercules, was a cut above the rest.
Oh Jeremy Corbyn!
So goes the refrain popular with his fan club. The hard core of Momentumites who act as his wise monkeys, deaf, blind and dumb when it comes to his follies and faux-pas.
Last week he was in Scotland. During his four day sojourn the Labour leader gave a speech during which he critiqued the state of the media on these shores. Mostly, he didn’t like what he saw.
And predictably, he was critical of the BBC. He didn’t engage in the vitriol that others, such as hard line Brexiteers and CyberNats have thrown in Auntie’s direction. For them, and in defiance of the truth evidenced by the polls, our national broadcaster is the British Biased Corporation.
Mr. Corbyn took a different tack. The big issue he wants to address is his perception that the BBC has a class bias. And he wants them to publish data showing the social class of those who shape the news.
Yes. You read that right. He wants us to know the social class of the producers and editors and presenters of the news. This is stupidity on stilts. Good journalists are good journalists regardless of where they came from. And it’s the same for good politicians. And where would this madness end?
“Good evening. It’s ten o’clock and this is the news read by a lower middle class women, who went to a State school then Reading University, has two children by different partners, a lapsed Christian and who once voted LibDem, a former vegetarian and has ginger hair and who once went on holiday to Venezuela……”
Now I will leave aside the facts about Jeremy’s own privileged upbringing. Because isn’t that the point? The fact that he and most of his inner team are massively unrepresentative of the country they hope to lead in terms of where they came from is irrelevant. They are not responsible for the lives they were born into. Neither are our news hounds. Let them all be judged on the job they do. Not the jobs their parents did.
A register of social class is stupid. And what would happen if it was compiled? And who decides what class someone is? Is it based on their upbringing or their current status or their aspirations? And would it lead to quotas and registers of other aspects of their personal lives?
No. No. No. please stop this madness.
This attempt to socially engineer our news anchors is just plain daft. I hope the BBC don’t fall for it. Surely they’ve got too much class for that?