No need to delve into an MP’s past

SO, The Comet s new friend David Cameron may or may not have indulged in smoking the odd jazz cigarette when he was at school. I would guess that I m probably not alone in finding it hard to be all that bothered. Being a responsible journalist, I would ne

SO, The Comet's new friend David Cameron may or may not have indulged in smoking the odd jazz cigarette when he was at school.

I would guess that I'm probably not alone in finding it hard to be all that bothered.

Being a responsible journalist, I would never condone any sort of drug use but, equally, smoking a bit of pot a couple of decades ago is hardly the crime of the century.

Cameron's stance on this point is that politicians are entitled to a private past and I'm inclined to agree.


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We seem to want our politicians to be whiter-than-white and to have led an exemplary life, and boy do we love it when we (or more specifically the national media) dig up something which shows they haven't.

This is an awful lot like wanting them to have had no life, and that to me seems inherently wrong.

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David Cameron's most unlikely ally of last weekend, Home Secretary John Reid, summed it up well when he asked if we really want to end up with "plastic politicians produced off some colourless and characterless conveyor belt".

I for one like my politicians a bit less plastic and a bit more human.

Clearly David Cameron's possible experience of soft drugs does not make him worldy-wise and experienced.

It does not mean he knows a whole lot about living in social housing, struggling to pay the rent or the general hardship of everyday life.

But to expect our politicians to have lived like particularly devout monks is to set unrealistic and unhelpful standards.

How can our MPs really represent the people of this country if they've never really lived like us, if they've never existed outside the closeted environments of posh schools and posh universities?

I would personally like MPs to have had a bit more life, to have got out there and really seen something of the range of experiences people in this country go through.

Only then can they make up their minds about what they should be doing, what policies and projects to champion and really do what they are elected to do - represent us.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that all people thinking of one day entering politics roll up a joint this weekend.

But maybe if we stopped setting ridiculous standards for MPs, if we actually expressed a desire to have real, flawed, human, experienced people making our decisions, we would end up with a Parliament far more representative of the people of this country than we currently have.

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