Tory crisis
Conservative Party

We should judge politicians by their fruits, not their failings

Mark Reckless MP is a man of faith; a faith which has, on occasion, caused him to delve into contentious matters of morality and probe certain state authorities which most politicians prefer to avoid – gender-based abortion with the tacit compliance of the DPP, for example. His defection from the Conservative Party to Ukip would not have been an easy decision for him, representing, as it does, the betrayal of one constituency (Rochester and Strood Conservatives) for fidelity to another (those who voted for him because he pledged to cut immigration and, as a Conservative under the EU precept of free movement of peoples, has discovered that he powerless to do so). Whether you view Reckless as a Tory traitor or a high-minded loyalist will depend largely on your own political inclination. Most people, of course, won’t care: to them, the defection is simply confirmation of the politician’s sophistry, falseness and innate duplicity.

The far more salacious Tory tabloid story is that of Brooks Newmark MP, who has resigned from the Government over a good old-fashioned sex scandal. Being a married family man, this represents a betrayal of a different sort; more a matter of private morality raising questions of personal integrity than the public perfidy of political treachery. Some would say it hardly matters at all: this is the 21st century and politicians’ private sex lives are irrelevant to their ability to perform their public roles. Others take the view that the capacity to breach a private vow or betray a spouse gives insight into character: if they can’t be trusted by their partners or families, what confidence in them can the electorate possibly have?

For Lord Deben (aka John Gummer), the hope is that Brooks Newmark will “bounce back“. But there is no place in Deben’s Conservative Party for “bigots” like Mark Reckless. Indeed, the wonder for Lord Deben (and journalist Janan Ganesh) is that Reckless was ever permitted to join the Conservative Party in the first place, let alone pass through CCHQ filters to become an approved candidate and an MP.

But these sorts of stories hold buckets of sorrow and pain for those who are nearest to the anguish: both Reckless and Newmark are facing an unforgiving media inquisition as their families cower beneath the newspaper columns of disgust, disappointment and disapprobation. The actions of both naturally raise questions about their personal integrity, and these doubts simply swell the pervasive narrative of cynicism and disillusionment which surrounds our political culture. What, after all, is truth without integrity? What is justice without faithfulness?

For the politician of faith, every activity, every enquiry and every practice ought to aim at some good. Indeed, this ought to be the objective of every politician irrespective of faith, but having a faith ought to keep in mind a specific telos – an end purpose or objective – namely that which Aristotle termed eudaimonia, which has variously (though imperfectly) been translated ‘blessedness’, ‘happiness’ or ‘prosperity’. Politicians in a representative democracy are compelled by the ballot box to foster and promote the well-being of the majority, and any degenerate failing or moral shortcoming – personal, professional or public – soon becomes a hindrance to the pursuit of good works, if not a stumbling block to their apprehension and appreciation. It is essentially why politicians feel (or, for many, used to feel) compelled to resign at all.

Mark Reckless and Brooks Newmark have their sympathetic champions and judgmental detractors. No doubt representatives of both will populate the comment thread beneath with varying degrees of acclaim and censure. But we ought to judge them by their fruits; not pursue an ad hominem inquiry into the moral quality of their personal lives. How well do these politicians – one a Roman Catholic; the other of Jewish heritage – manifest and embody the biblical ethic of the pursuit of the common good and the well-being of the community? What part have they played or to what extent do they have the capacity to contribute to the amelioration of the human condition? You may judge one or both to be deficient in their political allegiance or their faithfulness to the virtues of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. But we are all sinners: all have fallen short of God’s standards. We should judge politicians by the fruits of their public service, not the failings of their private encounters.

  • Albert

    For Lord Deben (aka John Gummer), the hope is that Brooks Newmark will “bounce back“. But there is no place in Deben’s Conservative Party for “bigots” like Mark Reckless.

    So it’s okay to betray your wife and family, but it’s not okay to betray to Conservative Party (even though the reasoning behind the latter is to be faithful to what the Conservative Party promised). What does that tell us about the modern Conservative Party? Is it any wonder that this is the Party that gave us gay “marriage” and supports numerous anti-family tax and other policies?

    • The Inspector General

      Indeed Albert. The lost has been plot. The been plot has lost. Lost has the plot been.

      Ah, here it is. ‘The plot has been lost’. Yes, that’s the neo Conservative way. Gay Marriage to wow the voters. Well, time to walk away now. Not just commencing one’s constitutional, but away from the party he used to support.

      • Albert

        Or to put the matter another way, the Conservative Party is not conservative and should not get the support of conservatives.

        • Manfarang

          One Nation conservatism dead?

          • DanJ0

            Apparently there’s a One Nation Labour now under Ed Milibrain.

          • Manfarang

            National Labour rides again.

    • John Knox’s left foot
      • Albert

        Yes, that’s him inside the burger bap.

        • John Knox’s left foot

          The wee bairn has mair sense than the faither

    • JayBee

      There is no place for the likes of Mr Reckless in the Conservative Party because there is scarcely a conservative bone left in its dwindling body politic.

      It conserves very little and has demonstrably done the opposite of “what it says on the tin.” It should hitherto be referred to as the so-called Conservative Party particularly by our state broadcaster the so-called BBC.

      • Albert

        How about “The Party Formerly Known as Conservative”?

        • JayBee

          A bit too cumbersome for me.

          • Albert

            Like the Party itself, then!

  • IanCad

    Time for change at the top.
    Cameron and his entire ministerial crew of political incompetents must resign if there is to be a Conservative Party for the future.
    John Redwood, David Davis, John Baron.
    New Blood Now!!!

    • Albert

      The trouble is that we could say the same of Labour, and the only reason for not saying the same of the Lib Dems is because they are now so insignificant. There is a chance now that Cameron will be the next PM. No chance of changing the leadership, therefore. It’s Labour supporters who would be most likely to demand a change in leadership.

      • IanCad

        You’re right!
        Time flies, and it is a good chance.

      • CliveM

        Albert

        It is hard to think of a time in this nations history when the political class has been so inept. Governments have been as poor (and worse) but you look at the whole political spectrum and you have to conclude we have rarely been so badly served.

        I think when prople ask for new blood and John Redwoods name gets mentioned it says it all. Whatever his strengths, he does not represent the future.

        Who is coming through? I see little hope for the future at the moment.

        And what does it say about individuals and society where it would appear half are taking nude selfies! Ok I exaggerate a bit, but you get my drift.

        He should stand down as an MP never mind a minister.

        • Albert

          Quite so Clive. But the problem is deeper than just a lack of talent. The problem is cultural. There is a lack of theme about everything. Nothing has any value, so everything becomes short-term and about presentation. Politicians are hamstrung by the vacuity of our culture.

          As for politicians sending nudy pictures of themselves, I am sorry for the man, and his family. But it’s another part of our culture. As St Thomas Aquinas says: “No man can live without joy. That is why one deprived of spiritual joy goes over to carnal pleasures.” Pity is the proper response, but not trust.

          • CliveM

            Albert

            To believe something, anything today makes you either a bigot or a fanatic. Strangely however those few politicians who do make a stand do receive respect.

            Wonder why the rest don’t notice?

            I thing their is a correlation between our vaccuous culture and nude selfies!

          • Albert

            Clive,

            It’s not always a question of noticing or not noticing, I think. Others simply don’t believe in anything much. They have been brainwashed into the incoherent thought that there is no truth and, as you say, that anyone who believes in something is a bigot or a fanatic.

            Beyond that, there is a problem of believing anything as a politician in a democratic and “multicultural” society, in that, when you believe something, you automatically fear you will alienate some of your constituency. In the old days, if you were a Labour politician in a working class area, it didn’t matter that some of your beliefs alienated Tories, such alienation brought you closer to your constituents. That’s not the same now. So our political culture favours the vacuous, even while it is not good for our country.

          • IanCad

            Further Albert, carnal joy is never satisfied. It must seek more. First to perversion and then to depravity.
            It is a hard road back.

        • Manfarang

          No it is not The 1930s come to mind.It will take years to recover from the 2008 financial crisis.

  • jillfromharrow

    Mark Reckless voted in favour of gay marriage. This does not bode well for UKIP.

    • Well, by the standards of the faith he professes, if we are to assess him “by the fruits of (his) public service”, then Jack considers he failed both God and man.

    • Shadrach Fire

      Jill,
      Anyone who voted for SSM is off my list.

  • It seems to Happy Jack that liberal democracy perhaps inevitably leads to in secular culture. To secure leadership and office in such a system means pandering to the short term preoccupations of the electorate. We get the politicians we deserve.

    • Albert

      I would say democracy hastens the direction of culture (if that makes sense). Democracy isn’t making Muslim countries more secular, but more Muslim. The problem in the West is theological and philosophical.

      • What is a pluralist liberal democracy? It should be an attempt to balance the competing interests of a diverse society towards the common good. Democracy cannot work in Islam nations because its peoples remain tribal without a sense of nationhood, they are intolerant of difference and religion fundamentally separates them.

        • Albert

          There is certainly a serious failing in pluralist liberal democracy, in that, it should be looking out for everyone, but in fact, it is becoming a narrow liberal secularism, in which minority interests only get a look in, insofar as they agree with that narrow liberal secularism.

          As for democracy in Muslims states, I’m not sure you are correct, but perhaps you know more about that question than I do.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack/Albert

            One of the problems is our politicians aren’t aware of the difference between a Democracy and an Elective Dictatorship.

          • Albert

            Ooo…well put!

          • CliveM

            Politicians of all hues would be better off identifying real problems to be resolved, rather then manufacturing imaginary ones, that they believe will make them ‘relevant’.

            You would have thought that their are enough pressing concerns to get on with. Still if you leach responsibility to other institutions, I suppose you have to inflate the trivial.

            Interesting neither of our last two Prime Ministers have won an election?!

          • Albert

            And it would be a brave man who would bet on the next PM winning an election, too!

          • CliveM

            My suspicion is that with the centre right vote split, Millinand will achieve a majority, but with the lowest level of popular vote ever recorded.

            The we will be back to the elective dictatorship question again!

          • Not so sure after the Scottish referendum. SNP will be going after Labour seats.

          • CliveM

            Well that will be an interesting contest. I suspect (as it’s a Westminster election) labour will hold most, but not all, of its seats. But I could easily be wrong. Could be very unpredictable.

          • Is universal suffrage and a ‘first past the post’ electoral system conducive to the common good? Jack sometimes wonders.

          • CliveM

            I believe I badly mis- quoted Churchill on a previous post. I think it still applies!

  • The Inspector General

    The Inspector couldn’t do this, but Reckless would have been able to. Write
    to the Home Secretary and ask if the government has lost it on immigration. In a
    world of honest answers, he would have been told, “We don’t really know, but be
    assured that if it wasn’t for our efforts in this dept, the situation would be a
    lot worse.”

    The Inspector is about to commence his Sunday constitutional. His walk will
    take him past places where the eastern Europeans congregate in Gloucester.
    They’re around not just Sunday, but everyday. He’ll see old faces he recognises,
    and new ones. Some go back to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech
    republic, but others are heading the other way. That’s the reality of
    immigration today. We have lost control, and everybody knows it, especially the
    eastern Europeans who should be building up their own country, not giving up and
    surviving on our largesse.

    The Inspector will also pass young British couples, of course. Maybe
    there’s a baby with them, maybe not. They have the unenviable task of trying to
    convince a mortgage lender that two junior wages will secure a loan that will
    buy a house costing in the region of a quarter of a million pounds. And the
    values are rising all the time, faster than their ability to save.

    Cranmer, you say Most people, of course, won’t care: the defection is simply
    confirmation of the politician’s sophistry, falseness and innate
    duplicity.
    . Reckless is no falsehood, and you know it.

  • DanJ0

    Perhaps the last paragraph ought to apply to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton too?

    • The Inspector General

      Brighton ! Isn’t that the place where the council has been asked to let the shrubbery grow in public places because gay men are exercising their right to bugger in public ? One would normally look to the police, but they spend much of their time these days being proactively pro gay and can’t touch the sods, apparently.

      • DanJ0

        It must be Sunday if you’re off on one again.

        • The Inspector General

          What, no more castigation of religious clerics from you ? In that case, the Inspector will stand down. Right, where’s one cane. It’s for walking you know, not for giving you the sound thrashing you deserve.

          • DanJ0

            That last paragraph is sympathetic, you racist, homophobic moron.

          • Well, two out of three isn’t bad.
            *chuckle*
            (Just joking Inspector)

          • The Inspector General

            Your cynical mocking is now sympathy, is it ?

          • DanJ0

            Jeez. How do you even manage to tie your own shoelaces in the morning?

          • Tactical backtracking ….

      • Manfarang

        Gays? Plenty of alcoholics on the streets of Brighton.

    • Another example of a Christian failing. How you revel in the failings of people of faith.

      “But we are all sinners: all have fallen short of God’s standards. We should judge politicians by the fruits of their public service, not the failings of their private encounters.”

      No, it should not apply to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. There is no division between personal and private life in God’s service.

      He failed in his calling and in doing so caused scandal. He was right to resign and, instead of taking “some time to consider (his) future”, he should take himself off somewhere private, reflect on his calling and seek God’s forgiveness. He has betrayed his sacred vows – like many before him – and damaged the Body of Christ.

      Ps
      Don’t bother replying to Jack. Do so for the ‘private reader’. Jack has no interest in a dialogue with you.

      • DanJ0

        “Jack has no interest in a dialogue with you.”

        Well, how nostalgic. We’ve been here before and it lasted about two days before your obsession re-asserted itself. :rolleyes:

        • So now Danjo wants a dialogue? That, or free reign to throw insults about.

          His Grace’s last paragraph was indeed sympathetic and appropriate too. Was Danjo’s comparing the moral failings of politicians with a Catholic Bishop? The two are not comparable. One serves the public – the other has taken a sacred oath to God.

          This has to be understood in the context of constant accusations by him that a lack of demonstrable sanctity in Christians suggests grace and faith are a fantasy.

          • DanJ0

            2 hours 45 minutes. That’s a record even for you. You bloody recidivistic pest.

          • “Talk to the Hand.”

          • DanJ0

            And so the obsession continues, as predicted.

          • The Inspector General

            There’s something of the pathetic victim about you. Not healthy…

          • Hand’s do not answer.

          • ukfred

            All of life is sacred. The calling to be a full time Christian worker – I will not say priest because we have a priesthood of all believers – is just as sacred as the calling to be a political representative.

            Mark Reckless’ resignation is the more honourable because he chose to express his failure to do what he had promised because of his party’s unwillingness to make the necessary changes, not because he was caught doing something he should not. Conry’s resignation has more in common with the other political resignation.

      • retiredbloke

        “There is no division between personal and private life in God’s service.”
        Jack, if you accept the priesthood of all believers this applies to all of us born again into His Kingdom.

    • dannybhoy

      Unfortunately the Anglican and Catholic churches have plenty of examples of dodgy politics and moral failing. That’s life, we all fail to live up to all we believe, The problem is when we or the Church tries to hide it.

  • len

    “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. That would make a pretty level playing field as were are all sinners some saved by the Grace of God.
    How many individuals would like all their past and present failings splashed across the Sunday papers I wonder?.
    I have had some mud thrown in my direction as a ex Brighton resident (50 yrs… neither gay or a alcoholic) although I now live in the North.
    I suppose the thing with’ mud slinging’ is a certain amount will adhere to the slinger.
    There is undoubtedly a lot of things coming to the light which people would prefer to be kept hidden but is is only by confronting the hypocrisy within ourselves that we can repent and move forward.

    I would think that God prefers the repentant sinner to the self righteous hypocrite .

    • dannybhoy

      len,
      No observant Christian could disagree with your opening sentences, but it seems to me we Christians live in a dichotomy. We are called to be salt and light in the world, to be in the world but not of it..
      On the other hand we are citizens of a free society shaped by our Christian heritage, and unlike our early forbears we have a say in shaping our society.
      Not being involved in politics because they are dirty (often true) and divisive (not necessarily), leads to complacency.
      As my old mum’s church used to teach,
      “We’re all wrapped up in the bundle of life”
      1st Samuel 25:29
      So whilst as Christians we have to repent, may have to ask forgiveness of another or make restitution, an unbelieving politician probably won’t.

  • Uncle Brian

    What are the chances, I wonder, that the 2015 General Election will result in a Tory-Ukip coalition, with Nige as the new Nick.

    • Marie1797

      The Tories will have to ditch Cameron and a few others first though if they are to get a sniff of power again.

      • dannybhoy

        Agreed.

    • dannybhoy

      Nigel has said that he would never deal with the Conservatives while David Cameron remains leader.

      • Uncle Brian

        So who would you cast as the new Dave?

        • dannybhoy

          I admire Michael Gove but I’m not sure he has the necessary leadership skills, Theresa May or George Osbourne? I don’t know.
          Frankly I think we just need a radical overhaul of our system. It’s all become too cosy and cynical.
          Nigel Farage is the kind of person I would like to see leading our country and making far reaching reforms.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace,

    You are so right. Politicians can only be judged by their fruits, not by what they say.

    What, after all, is integrity without truth?

  • The Inspector General

    One wonders if Reckless would still be a Conservative MP if Cameron had stopped the Bulgarians and Romanians from coming in last 1st January. He could have, but he didn’t.

    Yet Cameron hopes to re-negotiate the terms of EU membership. Why should Brussels meet him at the table or even take him seriously ? Not when he’s obeying every EU dictat to the letter. What’s to negotiate ? The obedience is there and will continue to be there while he’s PM.

    • perdix

      There was no way to stop the Bulgarians and Romanians coming in. You are telling a falsehood.

      • The Inspector General

        Care to explain what would happen if we did then ?

      • The Inspector General

        You just say no. Try it. It works.

    • dannybhoy

      The big problem with modern British politics is that a disconnect has developed between the political party in power and the people they claim to represent.
      I believe that it is this disconnect which leads some to believe that they can do deals behind the backs of the people or feather their own financial nests.
      When Ted Heath took us into the Common Market it is believed by many that he knew what the endgame was, but didn’t want to tell the British people the inconvenient details.
      Or Blair using dubious evidence to back up his case for dragging us into the war against Saddam Hussein, resulting in the deaths and maimings of many fine young men.
      And now David Cameron bringing in Gay marriage, giving taxpayers’ millions in the form of overseas aid to other nations who don’t particularly need it (India -even China!) or who may be persecuting Christians by forcing them as families to engage in dawn ’til dusk brickmaking (Pakistan).
      Recent Prime Minsters have already yield vast chunks of our sovereignty to the EU whilst pretending to listen to the people. and I would not be at all surprised to hear DC tell us a referendum would serve no purpose as we are already a de facto part of a European Superstate..

      I am an unashamed UKIpper after a lifetime of being a Tory. Indeed I retain a belief in core Conservative policies, but I lost confidence in Tory leadership integrity.

      • The Inspector General

        Your last bit, this man’s position exactly. Been unhappy for some time. It wasn’t gay marriage that made one abandon the Conservatives, but it was then that he told his associates, “I’ll grab my coat”.

        Cameron has already implied that even if a referendum is held under his watch, and the result is ‘get out’, it won’t be binding on him. One suspects he’ll use the result for more negotiations and consider his own hand strengthened. A fool has no restraints on his dreams…

        • dannybhoy

          My hope is that through the growth of UKIP we will see a complete overhaul of our political system, resulting in greater consultation of the people in forming core policies. Also a move away from following the party line on big issues by allowing more secret ballots on key decision making. More accountability by MPs to their constituents rather than their party leadership.

          • The Inspector General

            Didn’t take long for him to prove he was not an honourable man. One is thinking of ‘cast iron’ things here…

          • dannybhoy

            🙂

          • The Inspector General

            It’s not an unreasonable expectation of the party leader is it, Integrity ? One can expect this kind of dodging from a cockney barrow boy, but not an Eton educated toff from the elite. Have the former nobility or the like really sold out this much ?

          • dannybhoy

            I think it was ever thus – remember the Cambridge Five?
            Treachery or lack of integrity is common to all classes.
            But the “elite” do it with more style…
            -and just a whiff of arrogance. 😉

          • Nothing wrong with cockney barrow boys, Inspector. Jack would trust them over any politician.

          • yendor

            HJ – I seem to remember that you once said that you would never vote for a certain NF of UKIP because he reminded you of a cockney barrow boy

  • Darter Noster

    Brooks Newmark exchanged flirtatious messages including, I am led to believe, pictures of his own genitalia with a male reporter who had constructed a fictional social media account in which he posed as an extremely attractive young female political follower with the precise intention of enticing politicians into committing indiscretions.

    Who, exactly, has committed the terrible wrong and ought to be resigning here? We live in a society which has chosen to regard extra marital affairs as of little consequence except, it seems, when they happen to politicians. Mr Newmark was prepared, when tempted, to break his marital vows yet our society places almost no regard whatsoever on those vows. In what other profession would someone who has done nothing wrong in their professional life have to resign because of an extra-marital affair?

    Whilst it is certainly true that politicians should be discreet on the internet in public, now that so much of our private lives is carried out on the internet as well they should not be castigated for what appears to be a private conversation involving no wrong-doing. There is a disgusting and shameful honey-trap journalism at work here.

    • His behaviour showed a terrible absence of sound judgement. He pursued what he thought to be a young woman – with the obvious intention of a sexual liaison.

      Jack doubts his wife sees this as “a private conversation involving no wrong doing”. He was right to resign.

      • Uncle Brian

        There are no private conversations on the internet. Ask Julian Assange.

    • JayBee

      Resignation is inevitable for someone in government with access to sensitive information who was so easily fooled by a sting operation and placed himself open to blackmail. That’s what did for him. Either that or the paisley pyjamas.

    • CliveM

      Seen the photo of the woman in question, says something about his ego that he wasn’t at least a little suspicious!!

      • DanJ0

        Middle-aged man flattered by it. A mid-life crisis type of thing, probably. But yes.

        • CliveM

          Well I suspect the crisis has stepped up a gear!

      • dannybhoy

        Most politicians have well developed egos…

  • I think it showed a total lack of judgement. He is not a teenager but a (presumably) mature adult who should know better.
    He’d never now get a security clearance for a real ministerial job in any of the major government departments in spite of what Lord Deben says. Imagine him in the Ministry of Defence, he could easily have been taken in by a “honey trap” looking for a bit more than a juicy scandal.