Sunday, November 27, 2005
Jeffrey Archer, Politicians and Lord Acton's Disease
An example of the other kind? For me it was David Blunkett, brought down by treachery and naivety rather than personal failings-though there is some evidence that he had changed much from the original poor blind boy who overcame titanic odds. Most assessments conclude the damage was done by the malady so memorably diagnosed by Lord Acton.
Maybe it is purely personal- I felt political sympathy with Blunkett but not with the other names mentioned. But here's a strange thing. There was a time when I would have loved to see Kenneth Baker's ruination. He once supported Heath with uncritical fervour and then switched far too easily to Heath's successor. He was the evil genius behind the Poll Tax and expressed a kind of oleaginous cringing attitude to power combined with what I saw as contempt for the public. And yet, when I interviewed him a while back for some research I was doing, he was charming, thoroughly likeable and the reverse image of what I expected.
This is where the personal and the public conflict: how can I claim consistency of judgement and allow myself to exult at the destruction of careers when my own feelings are so contradictory? I suppose it's because we just cannot know the reality behind the public mask. If I met Archer, would I be charmed- as so many have- or would I be confirmed in my intense dislike? It's a worrying thought which undermines much of what I feel about politicians; and there is no escape from it.
Links to this post: