Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist Bernard Trafford

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist Bernard Trafford

Article excerpt

LOOKING back is inevitable at the turn of the year. Recovering from Christmas excess, we scour the media for all those quizzes and reviews of the past year.

Casting my mind over the past year's columns, I reckon I talked more about politicians and failures of leadership than anything else.

2014 was a poor year for many leaders. North Korea's Kim Jong Un became reportedly so fat that he disappeared from public view. Vladimir Putin became officially a dangerous lunatic (though not necessarily at home).

French President Francois Holland became a laughing-stock after conducting an affair with an actress by moped (unforgivably uncool). Closer to home, leaders of Britain's major parties were twice upstaged, first by Alex Salmond who, despite losing the Scottish independence vote, is aiming for a Westminster seat in May.

Next came Nigel Farage, that cheeky, beery chappie who, notwithstanding his latest pig-ignorant gaffe of blaming M4 trafficjams on immigrants, remains so high-profile as to cause Cameron and Miliband nightmares.

Thus it was amusing to read in the Sunday Times that political leaders rank low in the estimation of ordinary people in terms of their moral leadership. A recent survey suggested the Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge provide the best moral leadership for Britons, winning 34% and 30% respectively. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, managed just 15%, pipped by 17-year-old Nobel prize-winner Malala Yousafzai's 19%.

David Cameron managed just 8%: but he wasn't the biggest loser. Nigel Farage won the negative (worst moral leadership) poll with 39%.

It's weird. Most of us know dedicated MPs who work hard for the good of their constituents. Yet, when we look to Westminster, and with only five months until a General Election, it's clear we cannot trust politicians to act on principle on a national scale, to do things that are right for this country, whether they are difficult things to achieve or easy.

Policy is driven entirely by what will win votes. Indeed, a by-product of the fixed-term parliament established by the Coalition (something I thought a good idea at the time) is that there is currently no legislation or policymaking going on. …

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