Thursday, 24 October 2019
Where are all the heroes?
In 1940, Lt. Com. Gerard Broadmead Roppe, sacrificed his ship and his own life in the commission of his sworn duty to fight the German menace. Such was his bravery that this action led to him being awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the commendation being recommended by the German Captain against who he fought. Outgunned, out manned and outmanoeuvred, Roppe nevertheless fought on when he could have cut and run and saved himself.
In times of crisis, history pivots about the actions of a very few, determined, principled and sometimes reckless individuals who put duty before self, duty before reputation and duty before their own inclinations, in order to do the right thing. Would that we had more such people but, as Winston Churchill observed, a few can make all the difference. So where are they today? Because, make no mistake, we are in a time of crisis. No, not Brexit, but bigger even than that; our entire system of governance is in a mess it cannot solve.
It has always been the case – and frequently observed – that lickspittles, sycophants and all forms of grovelling yes-men have been elevated beyond their worth simply for giving up all principles to suck up to their masters. Such men – for it is mostly men, after all – have been rightly despised, but wear their shame lightly. Some even flaunt their undeserved privilege when they would be better advised to retire altogether from public life. Peter Mandelson springs readily to mind.
And then there is Adonis. LORD Andrew Adonis; a once-elected local councillor who has made no known useful contribution to any part of the national endeavour still pokes his beak in where it is neither wanted nor heeded. The inventory of names that should go down in ignominy is long and growing. In a just world people such as Heseltine, McDonnell, Clarke, Soubry, Grieve, Hammond, Swinson, Bercow and on and on would disappear into eternal oblivion the second they leave office, but you just know they are going to keep on making appearances long after their duplicitous public days have ended. (In Adonis's case he now wants the world to celebrate his finally recognising what we have all known for ages. Yeah, yeah... whatever.)
For the calibre of such people is quite, quite low. When you sell yourself once you signal to the world that you are for sale; and when you sell yourself low almost any cause can afford you. These are the worms. Snakes, vermin, the rats who leave the sinking ship. Without honour, without sincerity and without trust, such crawling, disgusting creatures are despised even by those they temporarily serve. History is littered with the treachery of the mediocre.
To become a ‘servant of the people’, to become a member of the Mother of Parliaments should require courage, self-sacrifice and an honesty so steadfast that it would shame even the boy who called out the naked emperor. Our leaders should be unimpeachable good guys, yet utterly ruthless when it comes down to taking decisive action. Sadly, we humans are practically defined by our fallibility and those who heroically try to scale the greasy pole are often shot down. It’s those who slime their way up that succeed; what should be a meritocracy is often just a pool of also-rans.
Promoted out of trouble, ennobled to still their mouths, rewarded for lending their vote for favour, these uncharismatic grey men dominate politics. For every towering figurehead there is an army of unremarkable nobodies made somebody. And the EU exemplifies this system, run as it is by unknowns. The only reason we have even heard of people like Junker, Tusk, Ursula von der Leyon et al is because the Brexit process has exposed these night crawlers to the light. Their time will soon pass.
You see only what they want you to see...
But behind even them there is the might of the civil service; the truly anonymous and unaccountable, who really pull the strings. Even the best of ministers has only a temporary and fragile grasp of the brief as he or she tries not to screw up, their main mission being just to survive and make it to the next level of the game. In the world of conspiracy theories we are often invited to ‘follow the money’, but if we really want to know who is ruling our lives we may be better advised to follow the failure.