MPs preoccupied with spin rather then substance... - Veterinary Practice
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MPs preoccupied with spin rather then substance…

PERISCOPE continues the series of reflections on issues of current concern

“SNOUTS in the trough” is an apt if somewhat unflattering description of the way our members of parliament have carried on of late.

I refer, of course, to those expenses claims where a bit of soft porn or a packet of Iced Gems were considered, by some, legitimate purchases to be refunded from the public purse. Jonathan Aitken could be forgiven for thinking that he was merely unlucky in getting caught doing something underhand.

What does it tell us about our elected leaders? Primarily, that if personal monetary gain is a possibility, then many of them cannot be trusted to do the honourable thing and work within the spirit of, rather than within the letter of, the rules.

In a nutshell, many MPs have milked the system to feather their nests rather than using it for its intended and honourable purpose of ensuring that they were not out of pocket. In their position some of us might well have done the same, which is not something any of us should feel proud of.

There was a time when I thought that our elected representatives really could be trusted. I probably viewed them somewhat through spectacles of a certain hue, but 20 or 30 years ago MPs did have a tendency to resign if their propriety was questioned with any degree of tenacity backed up by a little substance.

These days resignation is definitely the option of last resort, something only to be considered when all other bolt-holes have been found to be blocked. Claiming for the maintenance of private swimming pools, the cleaning out of the family moat, or the more mundane purchase of hundreds of sacks of horse manure, seems to be thought of as nothing more than a bit of a wheeze to get a little help with maintaining the sort of lifestyle that one has become accustomed to. Certainly not a resigning issue in any case.

We can, of course, get carried away with this and blow the issue up out of all proportion purely through a sense of unrestrained glee at seeing those in power squirming for a change. MPs are human after all and greed seems to be something that is hard-wired into most of us.

Noble characteristic

Looked at logically and dispassionately, it probably has a sound evolutionary and “survival of the fittest” function. Humans, though, are able to overcome their greed, and altruism is certainly one of our more noble characteristics.

No, what really galls me about the whole sordid affair is the apparent hypocrisy. MPs constantly appear to be questioning the trustworthiness of the general public (and professionals in particular) in a holier than thou type of way.

They have now been found wanting, indeed to have feet of clay, and it would be nice if they simply admitted to this and stopped telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing in that rather pious tone that some of them seem to adopt.

After all, we all have our faults but we don’t need to be constantly reminded of them, least of all by those who cannot see the plank in their own eye.

“Why doesn’t the public trust us?” is a much heard cry from politicians and poor Hazel Blears seemed determined to add her tuppenyworth to the debate, blaming the misuse of communication as a prime reason. Nice one Hazel, the PM will presumably welcome your intervention with another stunning performance on You Tube.

The timing of Hazel’s little outburst turned out to be somewhat unfortunate, however, as it came just a short while before we found out that she had “flipped” the house on which she claimed a second home allowance three times in the space of a year. Which seems to me less like a problem with communication and more a problem of brazen disregard for fair play.

What does this sorry little episode tell us about our politicians?

That they are still far too preoccupied with spin and presentation rather than with substance. Sadly, and as a general observation, so it seems are we the public.

We are too easily impressed by shiny Klix coffee machines and soft music which can smooth over a whole heap of inadequacies in the real services we are needing and indeed should be receiving.

We need to get back to basics, but not I hasten to add back to John Major who I think is probably more suited to cricket punditry than to being PM.

Relating the above “scandal” to veterinary practice, I suspect that there are some lessons there for all of us to learn. There has been much talk of late about fees being inflated for those clients who are insured and the unnecessary use of procedures that are designed more for adding to an owner’s bill than for the genuine benefit of the animal concerned.

Genuine belief

I wholeheartedly believe that actions such as this are still very much in the minority with the majority of vets doing and recommending only what they genuinely believe to be in the best interests of the animal in their care and in the interests of its owner, their client.

However, the actions of MPs as described above should perhaps be a timely reminder to us all that trust is hard won and easily lost. It will certainly be very much harder to gain it a second time if that trust is perceived to have been betrayed and indeed engendered a feeling of anger.

And once that anger turns to ridicule, then, as the politicians are likely to discover, nobody anymore wants to play ball.

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