A few things lately have made me think about standards on the Left. The recent attacks on Sir Stuart Bell seem to have been somewhat inaccurate and overdone, but nonetheless I don't think a Labour MP should ever be in the position of being accused of not being contactable and not holding surgeries.
I felt the same way about the expenses stuff. People that broke the law should be punished, no doubt, but what bothered me more was that quite a lot seemed willing to push the rules a bit. I know MPs work very hard, but they are NOT badly paid by UK standards. To be blunt, I don't give a fuck what Tory and Lib Dem MPs do, I want to know that Labour MPs are better than this.
Ditto Hari-gate. I don't care what the Right say about him, they've got their own crop of idiot columnists and are welcome to them, but Hari went very badly wrong and we on the Left should expect better. Again, I don't really care about his specific perspective (I've never rated the guy) and I find the barely disguised glee at his downfall amongst some on the more Blairite end of the spectrum depressing. But he's on the Left, and seeks to speak for it, he should know better. A lot better.
And actually let's not forget Mr Tony Blair. Shouldn't we also expect [goes all Kinnock] a former Labour Prime Minister to turn down very highly paid consultancy from investment banks? It's not anti-aspiration, it's about remembering where you came from, and who you are supposed to speak for. Investment bankers don't need advocacy, and certainly not from former Labour PMs.
None of us are angels, we are all flawed. But surely none of us on the Left want this to become an excuse for poor standards on our side. Every time we put our cross in the box next to Labour, renew our membership etc, it's partly an act of faith that our lot have some integrity. In an anti-politics age, shouldn't we be able to expect that our lot aspire to something better, and try and live out our ideals in practice a bit?
I hate the cynicism about politics that is prevalent at present, but I think the best way to deal with it is by demonstrating why our lot are better, even just a bit better, than the others. Threat by example and all that. And if our representatives try a bit harder, maybe those of us in the ranks will try a bit harder too.