Reading the newspapers, listening to the ‘serious’ radio stations – e.g. BBC Radio 4 and watching the discussion programmes on television, is a sobering and depressing business these days – no wonder people switch off and go for uplifting sources such as Classic FM or their favourite pop station, downloads or lightweight glossy magazine. Sometimes it seems that power always corrupts – bankers, politicians, journalists and senior policemen. It makes you wonder where integrity still exists – and one answer I believe is in most of the public services where there are still the ‘vocations’ – such as teachers, doctors, rank and file police and the armed services. I don’t think corruption is widespread, certainly the overwhelming majority of people aren’t, and most people are just trying to do a good job, from which they can get satisfaction and improve the lot of society as well as their own families.
Sometimes though, reading through the actions of the ‘great and good’ in the country who are supposed to be providing leadership, an example, selfless service etc. avarice, immorality and stupidity seem to break through in people who have had the cream of the country’s education and opportunities. As Doctor David Owen once wrote about in great depth – hubris (look it up) results from too much power for too long – especially when one is virtually unaccountable and unassailable – look at the great financial and media organisations as examples. Of course the sins of the top echelons also permeate down to local level and local councils and organisations too can make stupid mistakes and override the objections of the people they serve, because ‘they know better’ as they have the inside track and the information. The only redress is elections to remove local electable people or parties which don’t come up to scratch, but it is often the unelectable powers behind the throne who are the danger and provide the so-called residual ‘continuity and expertise’ on which the newly elected, relatively inexperienced councillors rely. It can also take an unaccountably long time for a popular groundswell to rise and force serious change – look at the ‘Arab Spring’, the former Iron Curtain countries and the nations still under the yoke of dictators – Burma, Zimbabwe and Syria for instance.
In Hanover House we often get guests with widespread experiences of life and world travel, and from far-flung parts of the world, and so they have interesting and often well-informed views. It can make for fascinating and prolonged breakfasts as we put the world to rights – ah, if only we could!