Thursday, 7 May 2009


I was very struck by the BBC report of the meeting between Gordon Brown and Joanna Lumley, the TV 'star', the front person for the campaign to allow Gurkha veterans the right to settle in the UK. "I trust him," she said of the PM. "I rely on him and know he has now taken this matter into his own hands." Now she may have been being devious and laying a trap for the PM as cynical hacks took pains to maintain. Two things struck me: one was how unusual it was to hear someone talking about trust in the public sphere. The day before I'd read a bit about the history of Jerusalem, when the king ordered the temple coffers to be opened, and the cash handed over to the workmen "for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly." And I can't see that being done these days. It would all be accounted, double-checked and audited. Because we don't trust people to deal honestly, we have created a cumbersome system of checks and balances; and it wastes so much time and costs so much money - and even then isn't water-tight. People still fiddle the books.

The second thing that struck me was the culture of cynicism which is fostered in some parts of public life. Mr Cameron says of Mr Brown, with a touch of sarcasm, 'I don't doubt he went into politics with the best of motives...' leaving the unspoken implication, 'but now he's lost them.' Political journalists delight in the conspiracies and plots, and highlight politicians' failures and weaknesses, but are silent about their achievements. We are fed all that's rotten in society and very little of what's wholesome and worth celebrating; and so, oddly enough, we too become cynical and mistrustful.

It's a shame more of us don't say, "I trust him," and mean it. It might even begin to reverse the vicious spiral we have got into.

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