Christian Weaver: Political heavyweights were straight talkers

Denis Healey at a book signing in 1980  Read more:  Follow us: @Nottingham_Post on Twitter | NottinghamPostOnline on Facebook

After the deaths of a number of political heavyweights Christian Weaver, a student at Nottingham Law School, asks what lessons there are for modern politicians.

Ipsos MORI, one of the leading political, social and business research companies in the UK, recently found that only 16% of Britons trust politicians to tell the truth.

The past few months have been interesting, though. I've witnessed the genuine upset of ordinary members of the public over the deaths of Michael Meacher, Denis Healey and Geoffrey Howe. This is from people of all party political persuasions.

What's more, the words being used in tribute to these individuals include "trustworthy", "principled", and "committed". Being only 21, I'm not used to hearing such positivity espoused about our politicians, and have genuinely been in a state of mild confusion.

The question that must be asked is; what did these politicians do that was so different in nature to many of today's politicians?

Well, three things. First, there was a perception that these individuals were involved in politics in the pursuance of a better world, and not solely for their own career/professional gain. Second, they had an opinion and they stuck to it. Finally, they actually gave straightforward answers to questions.

I would suggest that if every single politician from today onwards adhered to these three principles, politicians would regain the trust that some of their predecessors commanded.

There is a sense to which people are crying out for this. The popularity of Nigel Farage, whether you like him or not, was born out of his ability to speak his mind. Likewise, Jeremy Corbyn rallied up support from some of the most disenfranchised sections of society to become leader of the Labour Party through his 'honest' and 'kinder' style of politics.

But why is it so important that today's politicians follow some of the examples of yesteryear's "heavyweight politicians"? Well, not only will it lead to a more effective type of politics, but, also to a type of politics that we all want to get involved in. We pride ourselves in being a democracy but voter turnout in some communities remains very low. Input from these communities is crucial.

Learning from some of the veteran politicians of yesteryear might be exactly what is needed to engender more trust and engagement in politics. We, as a society, deserve nothing short of this.

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commented 2015-12-13 17:56:50 +0000
Thanks Christian

For a heartfelt plea that I’d like to support. However, none of your three examples made it to Party leader. Furthermore of the three, only Denis was really a straight talker, (Geoffrey was one of Margaret’s “vegetables” and only showed his mettle when bringing her down – for which I will always salute him!). Denis’ straightforwardness also arguably cost him the leadership and made him lots of enemies on the left of the party. This led to Michael Foot being elected leader, despite Denis having the stronger credentials in many ways.

I hope Jeremy can remain true to himself and continue to say what he thinks AND lead the Labour Party to government. But it’s a big ask for anyone, politics being the art of the possible and all that.

Yours fraternally


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