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Priests and politicians

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminded me of the differences between priests and politicians earlier this week in Committee Room 14. I listened to him and former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson talking about the end of poverty and war. The Archbishop spoke about the interdependence of our family of humans. A MP suggested that it is only religious and cultural leaders, not politicians, who can ask people to be good. It is everyone’s responsibility, the Archbishop replied.

 

I spent some days thinking about whether it is the job of priests to try and overcome divisions while politicians are always partisan and in the business of taking sides. Partisanship is vital for democracy; the imposition of only one view amounts to tyranny, after all.

MPs in constituencies

 

Visiting the constituency was once an annual affair for some MPs. It was possible to pass nearly all problems to local councillors.  But with the intense media scrutiny and public disenchantment with politicians, MPs’ relationships with their constituents have changed out of all recognition. One  constituency office accumulated over 9,500 cases on the database between 2005 and last month; and a constituent emailed his MP at 2 am asking for help and again at 6 am saying, “why haven’t you answered yet?”

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