"Think not what your Country can do for you - but what you can do for your Country"
OH! COME OFF IT, Jack! A neat phrase though, memorable even and definitely one for the media and biographers. Words we have heard quoted many times since they were uttered by the glamour politician of his era. One can easily envisage Brad Pitt or Kevin Costner spouting these words in some Hollywood blockbuster movie (or even Spencer Tracy, back in the days when film stars really could act).
It seems to me, however, that the speechwriter who penned this sound bite for the charismatic President Kennedy must have done so with his tongue firmly jammed in his cheek. I wonder who, exactly, was Kennedy supposed to be addressing? Of all the plethora of pseudo statesman-like offerings in political history, certainly in modern times, this is surely is a contender for the most vacuous.
Who ever heard of an altruistic citizen in the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?" It's just not natural there, or anywhere else for that matter. We, all of us, live our lives according to our own needs and desires, if not dishonestly then completely selfishly and not for the good of our Country or any other.
Selfishly is invariably how we vote too, unless we have been indoctrinated, usually at an early age, into slavishly following some party line. Looking after numero uno always has been and will continue to be paramount voting instinct and consideration. It is the nature of the beast: but hang on, let's lay the hair shirt aside for a moment and not be too self-critical.
Let us consider briefly the people we actually vote for, the elite anointed career politicians at Westminster. How many of them have ever held down a worthwhile job in the community or any other job at all for that matter? A rhetorical question, surely, but lack of experience in the outside world never seems to stop them standing up and talking utter tosh, just as they learned to do at some Oxbridge-like debating society.
There are also the halo-chasing, irritating and parasitic "do gooders", the members of both major parties, who, when in Government and holding the purse strings have no sense of priority. These pseudo-philanthropists persist in lashing out our cash to any dubious 'good cause' they can find abroad. This in spite of extreme hardship here at home, not to mention the horrendous bog of debt we are sinking into as a nation. To rub salt in the wound this foreign aid at times seems to be directed to countries, the leaders of which, when they appear in public, sport a nice line in silk shirts and Armani suits, while their own people starve and succumb to preventable diseases.
Still, it must be fine for the lads and lasses of Westminster to be able to salve their collective, so-called, social conscience and enjoy the warm glow of self gratification and glorification by being able to throw away other people's money in this fashion. A Nelson eye is then turned to the vanishing trick performed to this largesse by the recipients. This is one ' ring fence' which has been allowed to grow into a veritable stockade by courtesy of successive occupants of No 11 Downing Street. This is one area of expenditure that cries out for scrutiny and adjustment rather than penny pinching on our own people's pensions and allowances.
Now, by the law of averages, there must be a decent percentage of genuine, dedicated and hard working Members among the dross of all the Parties in the House. What tends to make the general public doubt this and to detonate this concept into a great explosion of disillusionment is the unedifying spectacle of Members ducking and diving to avoid being charged with the various forms of what is simply the Common Law Crime of Theft and some being convicted of even more serious crimes. This gives a whole new meaning to the term "conviction politician". At the moment the "Mother of Parliaments" has a serious family problem which needs to be sorted out - and quickly.
Perhaps we should be grateful that, for the time being, our Coalition Government appears to be temporarily diverted from causing any more damage to our Country by concentrating, with Opposition support (such strange bedfellows!) and with the aid of their yapping lap dogs at Holyrood, on "The War of Scottish Independence" or “come-on-let's-give-Salmond-and-the-Nats-a-good-kicking-like-good-old-Nobby-did-to-the-Huns-in-'66.
What I find really ironic about all the ever-increasing hype and hysteria around the Referendum by the usual chattering classes of politicians and the political media, is that the various pollsters give Salmond absolutely no chance of success. That is to say about the same chance as a cornered and wounded fox at bay with hounds or, say, Darlington F.C drawn to play Manchester United at Old Trafford in the F.A. Cup, or a football pundit using an adverb in his comments on the match. So much hot air has been expended on the subject that one can almost envisage Alex Salmond responding with the Alan Breck line from Stevenson's Kidnapped "Am I no a bonny fechter", Davy Lad?"
In spite of the precarious cliff-hanging economic position we are in, the other main issue of prime importance that demands immediate Government attention is the question of Gay Marriage. So says David Cameron who seems to regularly exhibit a weird sense of priority. This clearly is bordering on the farcical, little wonder that the words "deckchairs, re-arranging and Titanic" spring to mind.
I am not a closet anarchist (if indeed any such creature exists in our green and pleasant land) I despair not of our system of government but simply have no faith in the present leaders and other big hitters of any party. I suppose I could be described as a typical floating voter, tending to vote for the candidate rather than for the party he or she represents. I always use my vote, believing that anyone who does not has no right to complain about anything the Government does. In my time I have voted for the representatives of three political parties in both local and general elections and even one Independent candidate (God love you Margo).
I have always encouraged my immediate family to vote and to use their votes as they and they alone see fit. In the absence of parental influence to the Left or Right, I have in my personal clan Nationalists, Tories, Labourites and even one (God help him) Lib Dem.
Finally, may I reassure any of our American cousins, who happen to read this offering, that, in the initial paragraph I am not having a gratuitous pop at the good old U.S. of A. or taking a cheap shot at their undeniably popular late President.
Since his regrettably short period in office, history has revealed that, as political chancers go, he was pretty small beer compared to some of our own charlatans who have abused power, both before and after his lifetime. It was a great pity that one (or some) of the people he was appealing to, responded by blowing his brains out.