Something to Say with Keith Newbery: There is institutionalised hypocrisy within the Labour Party

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POLITICIANS are only human (well, most of them anyway) and are therefore prey to the frailties which beset us all. That’s why we have no choice but to forgive them their opportunism, selfishness and deceptiveness, for they are character flaws most of us share.

But the one moral aberration which really inserts itself deep within my nasal cavity and makes me grind my teeth to stumps is hypocrisy.

Politicians know their every utterance is recorded in perpetuity and it is therefore impossible for them to get away with saying one thing and doing another – but that does not stop them trying.

The queen of cant is Harriet Harman, who privately revels in the benefits bestowed upon her by a privileged upbringing, but finds them a public and political embarrassment.

This is the class warrior who vehemently opposes selective education – and then carefully selected the schools her three children were to attend.

This is the advocate of the all-women shortlists who was conveniently unable to attend a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee before the last election.

The committee suddenly ruled that the safe Labour seat of Birmingham Erdington would not be restricted to women only.

The candidate chosen was Jack Dromey - who happens to be Ms Harman’s husband.

The First Lady of the Left recently criticised Conservatives for using their influence to lever their children into jobs.

But she forgot (or omitted to mention) that one of her sons got a start in the advertising industry with the help of her close friend.

There is only a thin line between flagrant nepotism and helping your child get a start in life. After all, who among us wouldn’t do all we could to help our kids? I know I would.

But the last thing you then do (especially if you are a public figure) is sneer at others for following the same practice.

There is institutionalised hypocrisy within the Labour Party.

Think John Prescott (‘I hate toffs – but I want to be one’), Neil Kinnock (‘I hate the EU – but my family have turned it into a profitable cottage industry’) and Diane Abbott (‘I am opposed to private education – but don’t mention the fact my children are privately educated.’)

The damage they do to their cause is incalculable.

WHENEVER anyone mentioned Monty Python’s Flying Circus back in the 70s, friends would burble appreciatively and even clutch their sides as they chortled about dead parrots and funny walks. Meanwhile, I would smile weakly and nod my head unconvincingly. I never found the programme remotely amusing, but couldn’t be bothered to go against the flow.

I’ve long realised the phrase ‘cult comedy’ actually means ‘the majority of people can’t see the joke, but are afraid to admit it.’

It was with a quiet sense of vindication, therefore, that I read one of the Python team, Terry Jones, shared my lack of enthusiasm all along. He thought it was only ‘occasionally funny.’ I wish I could have mustered that much enthusiasm.