“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” John F Kennedy
The quote above inspired a generation to engage in public service as politicians, civil servants or community workers. I was inspired to get involved in politics as a youngster by the two Kennedy brothers and the belief that you should give something back to society – that politics was a noble professional. With the latest scandal in the UK over the child sex abuse just starting to come out I wonder if we can ever trust our politicians again. We expect - no demand that the state protects children in its care - it clearly has failed those children and though this deals with probably the period of the 1960s to the late 1980s we need to know that there are proper procedures in place now.
This is of course on the back of the expenses scandal and the financial crisis which we expected our politicians to have protected us from happening. We are still not seeing many of those bankers serving jail terms for the harm they did to so many families by their irresponsible behavior with our money.
If you haven’t watched the BBC video interview with former MP Tim Fortescue (from 1995), who was a senior whip in Sir Edward Heath's government from 1970-73 this is what he said:
“Anyone with any sense would come to the whips and tell them the truth I’m in a jam can you help me – it might be debt it might be a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal which a member seemed likely to be mixed up in. They would come and ask if we could help and we would do everything we could so that we could store up brownie points it sounds like a nasty reason but it was one if we could get a chap out of trouble he will do as we ask forever more.”
Lord Tebbit former Conservative Minister under Margaret Thatcher also seemed to confirm that it was happening in the 1980s when he said: "child abuse 'may well have been' covered up"
He went on to tell the Andrew Marr Show the culture at the time was to protect "the establishment" rather than delving "too far" into such claims.
Speaking with a former Labour whip today he said something which is clearly true and that is that it will be the politicians of today who will feel the general public’s wraith for the actions of their predecessors. The appointment of Elizabeth Butler-Sloss to head the inquiry may be seen as the establishment choosing one of their own.
We don’t know the names yet though there is a list circulating on the internet and if true and I underline if here it will I believe have a significant impact on the next generation seeing politics and political parties as a noble profession, it will increase people’s apathy, it could turn people even more away from the traditional political parties and democracy will be the worse for it.
"We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."