I cannot remember the allotment having been such a muddy mess before. This morning we stood under lowering skies around the hen runs in a mood of near despair. Inches of mud everywhere brought a mood of rebellion and no one seemed prepared to do anything. Up stepped Albert who, with a barrow of gravel and a fork, began to tackle the nearest swamp. For the purpose of establishing the metaphor I seek I shouldn’t perhaps mention that he ended up on his backside in the process but even that broke the sullen mood. He now has fashionable spikey hair born of free gel. But he did set an example.
Back in 1796 Edmund Burke wrote that ” Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other” and his words ring true today. The country is in a serious financial state and there will be no escape unless everyone accepts the need for thrift and sacrifice. Right now the national mood is one of sullen resentment and the supposed leadership of the good ship UK is making things worse with its message of don’t do what we do but what we tell you.
I spotted a perfect illustration of this in a local newspaper yesterday. Someone called Francis Fitzgerald wrote a letter bemoaning the axing of PCSOs, police support workers who have been helpful in controlling what he calls “the yob element”. He contrasts that with a decison to provide the chief constable with a Jaguar car costing in total up to £90,000. Of course the reduction in the specification of one car would not fund many PCSOs, but the lack of an example is appalling.
Many years ago a company I was running hit a sticky financial patch. It was clear that unless reductions were made to our consumable costs we would be in trouble. I swapped my car for a Mini and took a pay cut. Only then did I begin my exhortations to economise. It is not what people do when you are present, far more important is their true attitude and unobserved actions. My gesture gave me a pulpit and staff rallied round.
Sadly it isn’t only chief constables who are failing to set a lead today. Lloyds, one of the banks to be rescued by the taxpayer, has announced the appointment of a new chief executive. Antonio Horta-Osborio is undounbtedly a star but how can anyone justify the awarding of an annual total pay package of £8million? Small wonder that a spokesman for the Unite union lashed out. “How can this be right when thousands of people are losing their jobs at Lloyds?” seems a reasonable question.
Never slow to find a sinecure for his pals, David Cameron added to the general sense of injustice yesterday by appointing Andrew Parsons and Nicky Woodhouse into Civil Service jobs that were not advertised. Both made Conservative films featuring Cameron during the election campaign. Small wonder that Ed Miliband questionned the judgement behind such extravagence when ” he (Mr Cameron) is telling everyone to tighten their belts”.
The worrying aspect of all this is that even if leaders do set an example the followers must believe in their sincerity and integrity. Right now there is widespread cynicism about politicians in general and one group in particular. An opinion poll in today’s Sun shows the Lib Dems on an astonishing 9 per cent. No political party has experienced a fall of this magnitude in recent political history. It seems that the decision of the likes of Clegg and Cable to unashamedly break their (signed) word on tuition fees has shocked even their most loyal supporters.
It may be pure fantasy to imagine the present establishment operating in World War 2 but one cannot help wondering how they would have fared. Churchill inspired by example. As the bombs rained down on London he stayed there and continually walked the streets. When he demanded that everyone fight to the end they responded because they saw his commitment to doing just that. Our present day pack of politicians, chief constables, bankers and all, would probably have headed off to Canada and exhorted us from there! Self understanding tells me that I would have been frightened witless by doing what Churchill did but would have recognised that action speaks louder than words.
YouTube HAS A LOT TO ANSWER FOR!
Roshonara Choudry, a gifted student who watched over 100 hours of sermons by the extremist cleric Anwar al Awlaki, was yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment for the attempted murder of MP Stephen Timms.
Surprisingly the police have released the transcript of the initial interview conducted with her by Simon Dobinson, a detective sergeant, and Syed Hussain, a constable. It makes chilling reading. It seems that Choudry had no contact with anyone else on the subject of terrorism but became convinced by the YouTube films. She started listening to the inflammatory lectures last year and “really got into it”. She came to believe that “as Muslims we’re all brothers and sisters and should look out for each other and shouldn’t sit back and do nothing while others suffer. We shouldn’t allow the people who oppress us to get away with it and to think that they can do whatever they want to us and we’re just gonna lie down and take it”.
And so she decided to kill those MP’s who supported the war against Iraq. The one attempt mercifully failed but Choudry, who refused to accept the authority of the court, is unrepentant. “I’ve fulfilled my obligation, my Islaamic duty, to stand up for the people of Iraq and to punish someone who wanted to make war with them” were her final remarks to the interviewers.
Yesterday the video sharing site said that it is taking down hundreds of hours of the poisonous lectures. Sadly, for one talented but brainwashed young lady, it is too little, too late!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Brazil 2. Punk rock
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who married Kathy Silva on stage in New York in 1974? 2. ‘We don’t talk anymore’ was a 1979 hit for who?