Imperfect Politicians…

Have you ever wondered how some politicians get away with everything while others have their careers blighted by seemingly small actions that upset the wrong people?

When the tape of Trump bragging about grabbing women by their pussies first leaked, many of us thought he was finished, but he won that election, and even now, he is more popular than Biden. This is despite being found liable for sexual abuse and defamation with $83 million in damages awarded against him, plus another $354m in damages for business fraud. Yet the same people who care little about Trump’s crimes see Biden as tainted because of the potential crimes of his son – someone who is not even a government employee. Why the difference in expected standards?

Similarly in the UK, how do the Tories get away with it? The economic incompetence of the Tories, who almost bankrupted Britain in Liz Truss’s mini-budget, is matched only by their dishonesty during Covid, helping their supporters get rich with PPE contracts while having numerous parties during the lockdown and then lying about it repeatedly. How can they shake off criticism, while newspapers give massive coverage about Keir Starmer having a beer with colleagues after a day of campaigning?

Still-revered former leaders of the Tories can write books full of racist and antisemitic tropes, but it is the Labour party that is endlessly examined in case someone makes a comment that could be interpreted as antisemitic. Similarly, while right-wing politicians who refuse to see the reality of the continued slaughter of Palestinians receive little criticism, politicians like Joe Biden, who reluctantly refuse to condemn the horror of Gaza, are referred to as ‘Genocide Joe’.

Why the different standards of judgement?

In a sense, this is the fault of the left wing and liberal movement. We set impossibly high standards for ourselves and our politicians. In our social media, we have a continuous virtue-signalling competition where we boast about how anti-racist and politically correct we are, all too often proving our virtue by disparaging those who break the politically correct rules.

People watching from outside political groups often look at virtue signallers in the same way as Pharisees were portrayed in the Bible – as vain imposters, pretending to be better than everyone else. These people deserve to have their hypocrisy exposed.

Additionally, with politicians like Trump or Boris Johnson, the flaws are advertised immediately. Both men promote themselves as flawed characters, just like ordinary people. People don’t vote for Tories because they expect nice people. Voting for Boris or Trump is like buying a second-hand car, you expect a few scratches and imperfections but believe it will still take you to your destination. Electing such people is sometimes said to give us permission to be our worst selves, to think/say things that we know could be offensive or discriminatory.

What can the Liberal-Left do?

I suggest the Labour Party and all liberal, left-of-centre politicians admit to imperfection, that they cut down on any pretentions of moral superiority, that they should warn supporters that their party is made of ordinary people trying to do the best for their country. The nonsense of pretending to have driven all racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, greed etc out of any group of ordinary people merely challenges people to prove you wrong.

For example, Labour needs to urgently warn its supporters that accusations of antisemitism will continue to be made against its MPs. It is not possible to criticise Israel’s attack on the Palestinians without facing this accusation and as we watch the killing of the children of Gaza it will be impossible for any decent politician to remain silent. If Labour decides to call for a ceasefire, we can expect moral outrage and a focus on asking Labour to prove that they are not antisemitic. They should ignore these accusations and focus on the fact they oppose the continued slaughter of children. We don’t need moral perfection from our politicians, but we do need the ability to take brave and correct decisions in the face of criticism.

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