Forgive us their trespasses
There aren’t many times that the electorate would call for a referendum or state that they would welcome one, but the Government could be pretty sure of maximum turn-out on election day if they had the guts to put the issue of removing State pensions from corrupt politicians to a national vote.
But, while the only recourse in this instance might be to a referendum, the Government and the various political parties must not shy away from implementing their own measures to ensure that those that hold public office behave ethically.
With much of the dialogue in the wake of the Mahon tribunal findings in recent days focusing on the electorate’s culpability in returning to office those that were known to be morally shady, the question is being asked and answers proffered as to what it says about a nation that continually returns to power those that are widely known to be ethically off-course.
But, while referenda historically in this country have proven to be times when, rightly or wrongly, the electorate show their unhappiness with or dislike of certain political parties or political endeavours, General Elections are not, nor should they be, popularity contests or trials, where the electorate are charged with deciding who has an unblemished record in terms of their moral code.
Forgive the electorate for presuming that politicians should, as a general rule of thumb, not take favours for particular decisions; forgive the electorate for exercising their democratic right to decide what policies they agree with.
They can’t decide who the parties put forward, that’s for the parties themselves. They must act selfishly in their own interests, as everyone else should, so that we can come to a general consensus on how we want our country run. Even if the electorate had misgivings about certain individuals, why should they scupper this democratic right, to vote for politicians, albeit who might be morally straight-up, but whose policies they were not attuned to.
Rather than turning the mirror on the electorate and the discussion back on ourselves, political parties should now look at their own code of ethics and establish whether they are being discerning enough when it comes to the candidates that they put forward, vigilant to abuses and unrelenting in taking action against those that abuse their position.