Sunday, 11 April 2010

Where are all the Characters?

What has happened to the characters in politics - and for that matter in other spheres of life?  When I were a lad (strains of the New World Symphony please) there were characters in politics - people who disagreed with the party leader, but were still elected election after election.  Similarly in business, when I started there there were eccentrics and if you wanted cast iron eccentrics what better place to look than the church!
Nowadays eccentricity seems to have gone out of fashion.  Politicians have no hinterland, as Denis Healey called it, and appear to be scared to offend the hierarchy for fear of rejection.  In business putting the hours in and avoiding making a mistake appears to count for more than having good ideas and in the church there are still some eccentrics around - but we seem to be trying to catch up.  Common Tenure appears to be making the church more like business and will I suspect lead to less eccentricity.

Before I get carried away, all was not well in the old day.  The selection criteria in all of my examples appeared to be who you knew rather than anything objective and prejudice and "unfair" behaviour abounded. But we do seem to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater in our search for the "safe" option.  I wonder whether today Churchill, John Harvey Jones or David Jenkins would have been put into post.

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