Tuesday, June 02, 2009

BBC/Ipsos MORI poll: MPs are self-absorbed liars

Thus it ever was, you may say. According to a poll, conducted in the wake of this Duck Island Parliament, half of our representatives are thought by half of the people to be corrupt. It must come as a partial relief that 47 per cent thought ‘a few’ were corrupt, which is, of course, true. It is a minority, a small number, who have abused the parliamentary expenses system in a fashion which is verging on illegality.

When asked whether they trusted MPs to tell the truth, only 20 per cent said they did and 76 per cent said they did not - up from 60 per cent three years ago. When three quarters of the population perceive politicians to be pathologically predisposed to lying, there is a manifest crisis of confidence in democracy. Whether or not one trusts is usually dependent on whether one believes the other is trustworthy in the relevant circumstances. This depends on what knowledge one has of the other’s future commitments to behave as one trusts.

Locke thought trust central to consensual government. A government without trust governs without consent: a parliament without trust can only be redeemed when submitted to ‘the court of public opinion’ in a general election.

But this graph highlights something more fundamentally concerning. Some 62 per cent said they believed MPs put self-interest ahead of the country and their constituents. Disraeli once said to a wavering MP, “Damn your principles! Stick to your party.” But the tension is no longer between party interests and principled inner issues of conscience: the ‘self-interest’ here is psychological egoism. Almost two thirds of people perceive MPs to be devoid of altruism: they are incapable of acting unconditionally out of love or a hatred of injustice. Politicians are not perceived to be sacrificial servants of the people – though they may fervently profess to be – but are consumed with self-interest and self-satisfaction.

This is a cause of great sorrow. While it is undoubtedly true that Parliament contains its ethical egoists – those who, while they aim at the good of others, really pursue a moral life which maximises the good for themselves – there are many who do it for little earthly reward, indeed, incur much earthly derision. Christians are not perfect, but the Christians in Parliament have come out of ‘expenses-gate’ a lot better than most.

Central to the very notion of a moral imperative is the idea that it has authority to override all other considerations, self-interest among them, and to rule out the thought of calculating and quantifying the balance for and against advantage to self on particular occasions of moral obligation. It is not true, for the Christian, that everything we can be said to want or desire is an enhancement or fulfilment of the self. It is possible to express sympathetic concern for the sake of others, not one’s own.

And therein lies the solution to an apparently unbridgeable gulf between elector and elected. For when the elected truly sympathises with the plight of the electorate – lives with their bread, feels their want, tastes their grief – then the elected will become known and be perceived to be made of the same human and frail stuff as others, and so reach out with their message of political salvation for no reward other than the advancement of the common good.


Blogger Obnoxio The Clown said...

"Christians in Parliament have come out of ‘expenses-gate’ a lot better than most."

Like Mad Nad Dorries, you mean? William Cash, perhaps?

No, I don't think you really want to go there, Bish.

2 June 2009 at 09:53  
Blogger Sam Steel's White Angel said...

Something happened to me yesterday, and suddenly Jesus Christ made perfect sense. I have always had faith, but it was far from making any sense. Part of the problem for me was trying to marry my faith to science, I love science, and no theory could make sense of the two worlds.

I can't go in to any detail, it would take pages, but I love to think about quantum science, space, time and the nature of a soul. I was struck by a comment made by Spock in the new Star Treck movie, which is most excellent by the way, when he hints to Scotty about the formula for transporting at warp speed; Scotty says it never occurred to him that it was space that was actually moving. Thinking about this and how a soul could fit into all the scheme of quantum space and time is mind boggling to say the least. I mean, if the planet is destroyed, would this mean that earthly souls would no longer exist? Of course not!

I think God knows full well what a nightmare Man is. He knows all to well that the possibility is highly probable that we could destroy the hell out ourselves. Which led me on to the dilemma I have had for many years regarding the seemingly futile nature of John 3:16. But this is where it all makes perfect sense...Jesus was flesh like us, and the flesh is only the way it is because it SPECIFICALLY needs to be this way.

God suffered like our flesh will/does suffer and die. A soul is like a spoilt child. A soul is an imperfect creation until it is complete.

MP's are indeed the same human frail (nightmare) stuff as others. Their ego's are also the same human (nightmare) stuff as the others who put them there. Christians are indeed imperfect, as their souls are incomplete. All this probably comes as no surprise in the Kingdom of Heaven.

God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son....

Have we got it in us to make surprises in Heaven?

2 June 2009 at 10:00  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Obnoxio the Clown,

His Grace was thinking of the likes of Ann Widdecombe, David Burrowes, Iain Dincan Smith, Edward Leigh, Gary Streeter...

2 June 2009 at 10:13  
Anonymous Anabaptist said...

Another matter of concern arising from the second graph is that the person who compiled it thinks that the plural of 'country' is 'country's' and the plural of 'party' is 'party's'. This sort of error is increasingly perpetrated by people who should know better.

2 June 2009 at 10:39  
Blogger Sam Steel's White Angel said...


The title of the graph is a question. The apostrophe indicates possession of the answer to the question. Its a hot early Tuesday morning.

2 June 2009 at 10:47  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...

Expenses Gate? I rather liked Guido's suggestion of Snoutgate. Has a certain, je ne sais quois, about it, doncherfink?

2 June 2009 at 11:06  
Anonymous Arachnid said...

"MP's are self-absorbed liars"

It is very difficult to see how Parliament has been looking after the best interests of the nation really isn't it? She has behaved like the queen of spiders enmeshing us all in webs of deceit and sucking the life blood from the veins and arteries of the nation.

We suddenly find ourselves discarded like a colourles and empty withered skin, while the queen of spiders spins a new web. Self absorbed and true to nature like a black widow.

2 June 2009 at 11:21  
Anonymous Susan knackerstrap said...

The country feels like it is in a cocoon of metamorphosis at the moment. How it will emerge is anybody's guess. Will it be some kind of blood-sucking pest-like insect, or a glorious butterfly seeking to reproduce?

2 June 2009 at 11:55  
Anonymous Anabaptist said...

Sam Steel's White Angel, you are absolutely right, and I withdraw in shame and confusion, not blaming the heat, but my own inattention. Thank you for pointing out my error. Things aren't quite as bad as I thought they were.

2 June 2009 at 13:59  
Anonymous Anabaptist said...

Sam Steel's White Angel, on your earlier comment, may I suggest reading the works of John Polkinghorne, whom I think you would enjoy.

And in your second posting, you missed the apostrophe out of 'Its' [sic]. Mind you, it is, as you say, hot. (Oh, and it's 'Star TREK'.)

2 June 2009 at 14:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smith has finally gone - woo hoo!!

Who will be next?

This will bring a smile to your face


2 June 2009 at 14:08  
Blogger Sam Steel's White Angel said...


Well spotted. You have redeemed yourself from any doubts about your skills of interpretation, but things are probably quite as bad as you first thought though; there is no faith to be had in any of them, and they have quite exhausted any benefit of doubt that would have gone in their favour.

Thank you for bringing Dr Polkinghorne to my attention, you are very correct, I will enjoy.

PS My spelling is atrocious, and without the spell checker (which is pesky with apostrophes and new words that boldly go where no spell checker has gone before) I would be exposed as the philistine I am.

2 June 2009 at 14:28  
Anonymous not a machine said...

your grace appears to leaning towards statistics , could be tea with the taliban all over again .

most people i talk to are very angry with what westminster has become , of course the full hsitory has not put it into context yet , none the less "lower than snakes belly in a waggon rut" is not too far off .

they are brave souls who go out and speak the truth at the moment , in the name of politics , and it is fermenting , the more labour hold back the forces of electorial justice , the more it ferments .

we musnt chicken out of it and hold on firm to the lord

2 June 2009 at 14:59  
Blogger Francis said...

What we need to do is align the MPs' interests with those of their constituents. I have a suggestion about how to do this at my blog

2 June 2009 at 17:07  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The parties recruit the venal because they want control. It is patently obvious that the Brown Clique put Speaker Martin in place and used the Fees Office to buy MPs so Labour MPs could channel expenses money to constituency parties. Then again both Alan Duncan and Julie Kirkbride did this too.

The systematic pilfering of the public purse matched that pamphlet Wee Gordon drew up at Glasgow University to show students how to milk the benefits system

There is nothing accidental about this and no doubt former Whips like Jacqui Smith can explain just how Gordon and his sidekick Eddie Balls arranged for the Widows Cruse to be run from the Fees Office

3 June 2009 at 06:44  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

All that you write strikes me as noble. It is well put.

What is difficult to stomach is that in essence this country’s democracy depends on our elected representatives putting behind them self-interest and placing before themselves and the people the national interest (that is what the people long to hear).

Over many decades the majority of MPs may not have been practising Christians but they worked upon the basis of Judaeo-Christian intellectual capital.

Those values have disintegrated and because nature abhors a vacuum they have been replaced by selfishness draped by ideology. This was to be expected. Indeed in the 1940s did not CS Lewis warn how the State in the future would manipulate the education system (The Abolition of Man?).

This nation is undone. The Gentlemen’s Agreement that was once our unwritten constitution has unravelled (another symptom of ideology replacing the Judaeo-Christian consensus).

An unwritten constitution is a primitive instrument unworthy of a great people.

What is the first action we must commit ourselves to? We must fight, fight and fight again through prayer; on your knees. We must lay siege to God’s heart. He will hear us. He longs for us to turn to Him. He will arise. He will never abandon us. Defeat is inconceivable.

Victory is assured.

But all glory is fleeting.

3 June 2009 at 10:18  

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