Friday, March 10, 2006

John Profumo

The Profumo affair happened in the year in which the first episode of Dr Who was broadcast and US President Kennedy was assassinated. I guess that many bloggers and our readers are far too young to remember the scandal but I can, just, from my soon-to-be-teen days.

In those long distant times we had no 24 hour news and only two TV channels - ITV was less than a decade old. The News on both TV and radio was read in deferential tones by gentlemen who spoke 'received pronunciation'. There was none of the gossip and speculation or door-stepping and paparazzi which public figures must take for granted today. But changes were afoot, satire was starting to appear on BBC television and, as prosperity grew, people were less inclined to put up with the status quo and 'knowing their place'.

It would be interesting to know how great statesmen of the past would survive today's media onslaught. I have some concerns about the way that the media treat politicians these days; we seem to have swapped one form of hypocrisy for another. But there's no going back and, on balance, it’s better now than it was then.

I admire John Profumo for the way he led his life post-scandal. Not many who have been in the spotlight can so successfully move into the shadows whilst still doing worthwhile work. But if he'd been around for much longer as a Tory politician I'm sure he'd have done things of which I'd’ve disapproved! I’m indebted to an anonymous Guardian Unlimited blog writer for telling me that, as a new MP, he’d "voted against the government ... the result was the fall of Chamberlain and the formation of the wartime coalition under Churchill."

Lessons for today's politicians? Don't indulge in bizarre affairs. If you must, don't get caught. If you get caught don't lie to the House (that's what he was thrown out for). If you get sacked or have to resign do something other than writing anguished books about your conversion to goodness or popping up on television whenever you can get a booking.

* these events are not necessarily listed in order of significance.


At 20:24, Blogger Aunty Marianne said...

Unfortunately the egocentric, larger-than-life nature of the person prepared to stand for election, especially the male of the species, is such that their characters tend towards bizarre affairs, one way or another. Unfortunately, they're all we have to elect, as no-one with any sense of proportion has any intention of standing for election.

It's another argument in favour of a technocracy (oooh, heresy, heresy...!).

At 11:43, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Are you suggesting that technocrats have a sense of proportion? I thought that such a ghastly thing was only what those who hold forth in the bars of suburban golf clubs think they have!


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