In recent years we have seen the media and the public almost turn on politicians having seen them go from being a reasonably respected group of individuals to being a group that are not trusted and are “fair game” for overly intrusive media attention. Now some of it is justifiable but some is using those justifiable occurrences to take cheap shots at anyone who is in a position of responsibility.
Over the past 5 or so days we have seen the story of Paris Brown develop; once it was revealed she had said a few questionable things on twitter. The media went to town on this 17 year old saying she was unfit to do her job and so on; which ultimately lead to her resignation. Now in this whole situation I don’t think she was at fault, but that there was improper due diligence in her appointment, which if it had been carried out then none of this whole debacle would have seen the light of day.
However it now raises one big question for anyone who is contemplating running for office in the UK, and that is “is it really worth it?”
Social media is a great thing, it lets you share and communicate ideas with people all over the world but equally it lets you have heated discussions about those ideas which could result in you saying something that could if taken on its own be taken very out of context. That in turn is used as a big stick to beat you over the head with should you run for office.
However it also has the problem of preserving for all time (unless you go back the next day and delete it) what you say, so all those conversations you had when you were 14, 15 & 16 that you would now look at and think oh dear did I really say that? Are as good as set in stone, for anyone to come along and dig up at a later date.
Which leads us with a bit of a tricky situations if the media are going to now go after anything that anyone has said before they were appointed or elected to a position, then with social media that is really going to limit the pool of people we have available to draw upon for these people.
Which in the meantime raises the question, who would really want to be a politician? We have all done or said something in the past that the media would probably jump on much in the same way that they jumped on a 17 year old. So this really has to make a lot of people thing do I really want to be put in the same position.
We often hear that politicians are out of touch with the common person, and they have no life experience before becoming an MP. Which may be true in some cases, but could this fact be down to the media. If we want MP’s who know what life is about, who have some experience of life then we as a nation have to accept that they may have done things some of us would disapprove of.
So the way I see it we have two options, we either accept that people have lived lives and done things that we may think “Oh dear, I wouldn’t have done that” and subsequently get MP’s and alike with life experience. Or we end up with MP’s who from the age of 14 or so decided they wanted to be an MP and lived a sheltered life not daring to put a foot wrong and in turn having no experience with life what so ever.
As I am sure even some of our past MP’s like Churchill, Baldwin, Attlee all probably did things in their youth that if they were around today would be front page news. That would probably cause them to have to resign before they did what they did.
So the choice is simple dull MP’s or MP’s with life experience?
A few weeks back I posted the following question on my Facebook page just to see what my friends thought about it, as it was a question that came to me and I couldn’t work the answer out myself;
Do we have more openly gay and bisexual MP’s now because times have changed and it’s ok to be gay/bisexual? Or do we have more because if they weren’t out the media would out them?
Now of those that answered the question they all felt it was a little from A and a little from B. Which got me thinking why is there this desire for people to know if someone is gay or not. Now obviously there are situations where you would want to know, if you wanted to ask someone out or wanted to chat them up in a pub. Then it helps to know or have an idea if that person’s sexuality is compatible with your own.
But when it comes to just about every other situation I can’t see a need to know if your banker, butcher, bar tender or grounds keeper is gay or not. Someone’s sexuality has very little bearing on their ability to do a job. Even if the job is working with LGBT people you don’t have to be gay to be good at the job, all you need is an understanding of that.
Now some people will argue that you can only properly understand that by having experienced it. But there are lots of jobs that people do where they can’t have experienced something, like historians they don’t know what it is like to have lived in fiftieth centaury North-west France.
Now in the vast majority of cases we do live in a society where being gay is fine and there are laws to protect gay people from discrimination which is good. However I think there are certain jobs, and politics is one, that if the person is not open about their sexuality the press sees fit to try and make it a story. A prime example of this was what happened to Simon Hughes and him being bisexual, where he was given the option by the press of coming out or be outed.
Now I don’t know about you but does it really make a lot of difference if an MP is open about their sexuality or not? We don’t tend to see this with other people in public life, there have been no Footballers outed or other Sports starts. Yet politicians seem fair game.
Personally I don’t think that anyone should have to be open to the world about their sexuality be that homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual. It is a very personal thing that I believe that people should be able to keep private if they want to.
Of course there will be people who will want to shout it off the roof tops that they are gay, and I am fully supportive of them doing that. But I do not think that just because someone is LGBT and takes up a position in public life that they should be put in a position where they have to share that with the world because otherwise it will become subject to gossip and media speculation. We don’t have the media questioning if someone is heterosexual so why should the LGBT community have to put up with it?
Yet what I find even more abhorrent than the media doing it is other LGBT people who decide to out LGBT people because they think they have a moral duty to do such a thing. People deserve to decide themselves if they want to be totally open about it or not.