It shows the spirit of the age but it is compounded by those who cannot see themselves. As the Scottish bard Rabbi Burns put it: “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us!” … To see ourselves as others see us.
Not only have former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major muscled-in on Brexit, as backstreet drivers, but so has David Cameron. They are fearful that the legacy they worked so hard to promote might turn to dust.
Commentators have selected some spicy quotations to the effect that he could not trust Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, two of the principal Brexiteers in government at this time. The timing is reckoned by commentators to be his contribution to spiking Brexit.
David Cameron claims that Boris Johnson backed Leave to ‘help his political career’. The former Prime Minister also refers to cabinet minister Michael Gove as “a foam-flecked Faragist”. The explanation is that “he also accuses Mr Gove of being disloyal to himself and Mr Johnson.”
Trusting public servants
What should we expect from public servants? For the most part it is competence to do the job according to its job description. On this principle the House of Commons is failing the country.
Yet there is a group of people who seem to expect perfection from public servants. At least, they use the lack of perfection as a basis to attack the legitimacy of the person’s position. In the Brexit debate some politicians have been prepared to claim that elected persons are not fit for the job, even to the extent that some prominent politicians have asserted that Boris Johnson is not fit to be Prime Minister.
Not only do these assertions impugn voters, but it challenges the democratic process, and many have warned about the threat to democracy in refusing to accept the Brexit Referendum. It shows the anti-democratic spirit in these bad losers.
Further, this new doctrine of secular puritanism contradicts the political theory and practice developed in the 1960s when secularists decided that one could trust a politician to do his job even if his wife could not trust him to be faithful. There is an element of truth in this.
Trust for specific matters
Airplane pilots can be trusted to fly their plane to the best of their ability, or at least their employer can be trusted for the most part to ensure that they do so. Whether their spouse is able to trust their marital faithfulness does not alter the trust of the public in their ability to do their job. This was supposed to be established in the 1960s, but it does not suit posturing politicians wanting to attack Boris Johnson by any means possible.
Pride alone will spur many a person to try to do their best. This secular puritanism that looks for perfection in public servants is an outworking of political correctness. This modern and secular doctrine is prone to inflaming hate speech on social media that amounts to a public lynching.
Going for the man instead of the message is an argument ad hominem. It usually means that one is losing the argument and that it is turning nasty.
Yes, the nation expects to trust its Prime Minister. But what about David Cameron?
Three days before the 2010 General Election, David Cameron said that he had no plans to redefine marriage. He changed his mind and now he considers this revolutionary change to be part of his enduring legacy. However, redefining marriage owes more to the Lib Dems than to him.
That was the beginning of his premiership. What about its end? He told the nation that he would lead the process to implement the result of the Brexit Referendum. Yet as soon as the Brexiteers won the Referendum to Leave the EU David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, humming a song as he went back into 10 Downing Street after announcing his flight from his promise about the Brexit Referendum.
What about the middle of his premiership?
In 2010, the Lib Dems went into alliance with the Tories but so little did the Lib Dems trust the Tories that they engineered the now-notorious Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. This was enacted to cement the political alliance because the Lib Dems could not trust in the Tories to maintain the alliance in Government. It is retrospectively described as being for ‘stability’ but it was really because of mistrust.
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 has served the Remainers well but it has gridlocked parliamentary democracy and brought both the House of Commons and its procedures into disrepute. The unintended consequences from this Act has ensured that it will be the first casualty of a majority Government in the near future.
Further, Vince Cable who served in the Tory-Lib Dem or Con-Dem alliance with David Cameron had a few spicy quotations of his own about the Tories. So one might justly conclude that David Cameron is the kettle calling the pot black.
David Cameron was no “safe pair of hands”. The day after the Scottish Independence Referendum he announced his support for English Votes for English Laws with a manifest lack of consultation, timing and political finesse. He failed to prepare for Scottish Independence, and he failed to prepare for the 23/6/2016 Brexit result. He abdicated his responsibility when he lost and he demonstrated his readiness to take risks.
In his media interviews on the publication of his Memoirs, he managed to put his foot in it again by revealing discussions he had with the Queen, breaking Royal protocols. This added to his earlier indiscretions. After the Scottish Referendum he was overheard telling an ex-New York Mayor that the Queen “purred” happily down the phone. A later documentary showed that Cameron himself had never been more nervous at the thought that Scotland would leave the Union on his watch. He has also revealed that he thinks every day about the UK leaving the EU as a result of his Referendum. David Cameron was no safe pair of hands and he is no dispassionate observer of events.
Additionally, by suddenly announcing that it was now time to introduce English Votes for English People, he only added to SNP grievances and rubbed salt into their wounds, stoking and contributing to the current SNP demands for a second Referendum on Scottish separation from the UK. He had no particular vision for the country nor for Scotland. His legacy is the accidental legislation changing the definition of marriage, which is not really his but Danny Alexander’s, who wrote the Lib Dem manifesto, which had to be honoured to secure his political alliance. The unintended consequences of this revolutionary change will continue to emerge over successive decades.
The public is regularly deceived by the promises in political manifestos. The public does not know how to hold any political party to its own manifesto. Besides, one Government cannot hold a following Government to its legislation. So each generation must know the arguments and debate its own policies. Already the Remainers such as the Lib Dems are hoping to overturn the Brexit vote.
Standards and perfection
Jesus said that we are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect Mat 5:48. This Christian teaching does not mean perfectionism but Jesus asserts the Christians standard to which we ought to aim. The godly are not perfect and Christianity does not teach perfectionism in this world but only in ‘the world to come’. There are, however, Christian perfectionists just as there are secular perfectionists, whose dogmas are no help in improving social interactions.
The Prime Minister to trust
The Prime Minister to trust is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone can be fully trusted to implement His programme for government.
Faithful is He that calls you, Who also will do it.1 Thessalonians 5:24
“In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance [in heaven] that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the foretaste and down payment of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.”Ephesians 1:11-14
Will you trust your soul to Christ? The apostle Paul said of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“I know Whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him.”2 Timothy 1:12
31 Oct 2019: today is Brexit 3 day and day 1 of the General Election campaign – and Boris Johnson has been cleared of the charge of impropriety. Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said the review found “no impropriety in the awarding of the grant”.
26 Nov 2019: only 28% trust Boris Johnson to tell the truth but it is more than other political party leaders.
19 Dec 2019: Prime Minister Boris Johnston announced in the Queen’s Speech debate that as a first step in restoring trust in our democracy the Government will repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.
16 Mar 2021: the subject of trust is back on the agenda as EU countries have paused their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus because they do not trust the WHO nor even the European Medicines Agency (EMA) who have declared it to be safe. Who can one trust? In an era of fake news it is worth reminding people that trust is central to the Christian Gospel. Having abandoned trust in Jesus Christ, people don’t know whom they can trust or at least to what extent they can trust them.