Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

Parliament is supposed to be open, to be democratic and to serve the people, but MPs first of all attempted to close down any investigation of their expenses, and now continue to kick and scream against demands that they pay any money back. All this leads one to conclude that they have given up caring about their own reputation and that of parliament, so deeply stuck in the mire have they become.

This is extremely dangerous. In his unpublished de Legibus ('On Laws'), Cicero offers some especially instructive views on the matter in his reflections about senatorial corruption. He writes:

'The senatorial order must be untainted by impropriety and serve as a model for the rest of the citizens. If we can secure this, we shall have secured everything.'

He goes on to argue: 'For if you care to look back over our past, you will see that the character of our leaders has formed the character of our whole state. Any change in their moral stature was reflected in that of the population. For that reason, immoral leaders are especially dangerous for a state, because they not only indulge in immorality themselves, but they also instil it in the citizens. …

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