Whatever happened to honour, trust and respect?

Once upon a time, the sun never set on the British Empire administered by a politically impartial civil service, the police were seen as stern but jolly blokes on the side of the righteous, banking was an honourable profession, politicians were models of rectitude who resigned at the first hint of scandal or error and took responsibility for their Ministry.  Journalists reported the news and exposed wrong-doings. A cosy picture perhaps.

Nowadays, there is no Empire but a politicised civil service while the police are overworked, overwhelmed with paperwork, work in “partnerships with other agencies” rather than catch criminals and, at least as far as The Met goes, are embroiled in corruption scandals. Our politicians, with a few honourable exceptions, have been exposed as expense-fiddling, venial, self-serving careerists who seem to believe that they can get away with anything while lecturing the electorate on the need for restraint, belt-tightening and blah blah blah. Bankers have proved to be gamblers with their clients’ money and have driven Western economies into the ground. Journalists are, thanks to the allegations made about Murdoch’s empire, suffering a similar fate; phone and computer hacking with its associated illegalities, undue influence on the political process and corporate malfeasance are just some of the charges laid against them.

We have become so used to hearing about corruption, and behaviour which is just plain wrong, that we no longer care. We just shrug our shoulders and say “I told you so”. Given the above, this is understandable but it is very dangerous. Our society is founded on the assumptions that politicians work in the national interest,  a fair civil service enacts political policy,  financial leaders are acting in a decent, responsible manner while our police and news media maintain a vigilant eye on the transgressors of these ideals. As these assumptions fail so does our belief in our institutions and society as a whole.

There is a Masonic saying which I think is apt: “A man should live respected and die regretted”. How many of our politicians, bankers, police and journalists can make that claim?


About ReidIvinsMedia

After working for many years in Higher Education I've decided to drop out and join the real world. Here I blog about my interests which include education, politics, backpacking, poker, photography and real ale.
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2 Responses to Whatever happened to honour, trust and respect?

  1. Julian Luttrell says:

    Is it really so different now from then? The past is always a golden age, but only because it is familiar while the future isn’t. Granted we have a lot of scandals and shocks these days, but you always will have at the end of an empire – switching from the world according to the west to the world according to the east is going to be painful, disruptive, and full of colossal opportunities for personal gain that just weren’t there before.
    Bankers have always been gamblers with clients’ money – that’s what banking is – but recent developments in financial calculus have created opportunities for massive amplified gains (and losses) so it is all the more apparent when things go wrong.
    Politicians do work in the national interest; it’s just that the national interest often does not correspond to individuals’ interests any more. Geopolitics is going through an earthquake now as power passes from the west to the east. This is what such a change feels like.
    I don’t want to be flippant, but get used to it! We’ve been doing it to them for hundreds of years, now it’s their turn.

    • Firstly, thanks for the comments. Much appreciated.

      I think you make a number of salient points which I agree with, especially concerning the end of Empire and bankers.

      However, I do disagree with your views on politicians. Within a generation or so, we’ve seen politicians move from people who were very often statesmen-like, but always with strong party allegiances and beliefs, to career politicians. The new breed care much more about “spin” and presentation than policies. Which is why Labour and Conservative in particular are pretty much the same as they pay more attention to focus groups and opinion polls than ideology. Add to that the unholy mix of the modern media and the police and what results is a bland, undemocratic and essentially corrupt circle where are lawmakers and law-keepers are controlled by a media intent on commercial global domination.

      Recent events have shown us that our politicians cannot be trusted and are in thrall to the media, especially but not exclusively, News International. Harriet Harman admitted on Sky News that while Labour were in power they felt NI were to big to handle. At the same time, the police have become more concerned with image and dealing with the press that they employ consultants/advisers who are still working in the media industry. This relationship has become tainted as the police have fed information to the media in return for favourable press coverage. To compound this, they haven’t investigated (in any real meaning of the word) allegations of illegal activities such as hacking and pinging. Indeed, I read today that the police may have assisted the tabloids in pinging.

      Given all this, I don’t believe these groups act honourably but they are untrustworthy and not deserving of any respect.

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