Friday, October 16, 2009

Does The Lack Of Privacy Rule Out Public Office For Many?

"Our belief that senior politicians have forgone their right to privacy makes leadership impossible in a modern democracy"

"That’s the life of the modern democratic leader for you, as illustrated by two statesmen in the space of a fortnight. You start off your career by being given the Nobel Peace Prize, and you finish up being quizzed about whether or not you pop pills."

"Gordon Brown came to it on The Andrew Marr Show, to my suprise. Although I knew there was loose-ish optimistic talk about his eyesight being used as a pretext for resignation, I had somehow not registered the flood of rumours about the Prime Minister’s supposed pill dependency. In Marr’s words: “Let me ask you about something else which everybody has been talking about out there in the Westminster village, which is a lot of people in this country use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through. Are you one of those people?” No, said Mr Brown.

The journalistic world divided over Marr’s question. Some said he shouldn’t have asked it, some said it was a valid line of inquiry. Had not David Owen recently written a book in which he argued (and remember that Dr Owen is a proper stethoscope Dr and not a John Reid read-my-thesis kind of Dr) that we have had bad decisions as a result of undiagnosed or undisclosed illnesses on the part of leading politicians going back a ways?"

"An unsubstantiated allegation, but so what? It’s a reasonable thing to ask you, Mr Brown, to which you may answer yes or no, because the public have an interest in knowing. As they do in such questions as: do you drink? Did you have your son immunised? How much does your wife earn? Do you get depressed? Is there a history of depression in your family? Did your spouse rent an adult movie and claim it back on expenses, unwittingly or not? What movie was it? Was it arousing? Do the children know about it? (Well, they do now.) And because it’s you, none of the privacy protection people turn a hair. You are fair game. You don’t have privacy. Your lack of it is the price you pay for power, the equivalent of, in Patrick Marber’s words, the “fame tax” that celebrities pay." [my bold]

Times Online - The price of the ‘power tax’ is far too high

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