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Barns on hypocrisy

August 30th, 2004

Writing a defence of Ross Cameron, and political hypocrisy in general, Greg Barns puts forward the startling proposition that it’s OK for politicians to keep a mistress at taxpayers’ expense[1].

For the body politic in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and their former colonies, the fact that their political leaders attend church on Sundays, preach the need for less corruption and moral virtue during the week, but keep a mistress at taxpayer’s expense merely raises a resigned shrug of the shoulders.
 
This latter approach is not only more realistic but recognises the point .. that there’s little reason to expect that the personality type attracted to politics is a human of impeccable moral virtue.

If Barns himself should ever run for office, we can’t say we weren’t warned.

Coming to the more general issue, hypocrisy isn’t the worst sin a politician can commit, but it is a relevant one. A lot of the discussion of this question focuses on hypocrisy about sexual behavior, but there are plenty of other kinds, and the defences advanced by Barns are rarely put forward in such cases. For example, there was a lot of discussion of Mark Latham’s choice of hospital for his recent illness, and the decisions of Labor MPs on where to send their kids to school are regularly scrutinised. No-one (at least, no-one I noticed) suggested that this was a private matter, not suitable for public discussion. A protectionist MP who owned shares in an import business, or a free-marketeer who owned a business with a government monopoly could expect to have the facts pointed out. And so on.

There are a lot of reasons to vote for or against Ross Cameron other than his stance on family values. And a voter who agreed with Cameron’s ostensible stand on family policy might well conclude that it was better to have someone who voted the right way, but didn’t live up to his principles, than an impeccably well-behaved family man or woman who opposed legislative imposition of a particular family type. Still, if I were a family-values voter, I’d rather have somone who walked the walk as well as talking the talk.

fn1. I should say, to be absolutely clear, that no-one has suggested that Cameron used taxpayers’ money. Also, those who wish to substitute “toy-boy” will, I am sure, have Barns’ assent.

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  1. Tom N.
    August 30th, 2004 at 16:21 | #1

    Although Q’s precise concern about Barns’ “mistress” point is unclear, I hope Q is attacking the tax-payer funding of pollies’ relationships in general, rather than the nature of the relationship being supported. As I pointed out at the time of the Trish Draper brouhaha, it is discriminatory to subsidise pollies’ spouses but not pollies’ friends, lovers or pet pooches. All people have needs for company and companionship, and I am unaware of any credible basis for subsidising some means of satisfying this need, such as marriage, but not others, such as parrallel monogamy.

  2. John Quiggin
    August 30th, 2004 at 16:38 | #2

    Fine, but no double-dipping!

  3. James Farrell
    August 30th, 2004 at 17:09 | #3

    I realise that this blog is not visted by too many insiders from Liberal Party machine, but does anyone know, as a matter of interest, whether there were moves afoot to find Cameron a safer seat in the event of his loss, and whether these have now been aborted?

  4. August 30th, 2004 at 17:17 | #4

    According to Malcolm Mackerras’s pendulum, Ross’s current seat seems to have been aborted.

  5. Dave Ricardo
    August 30th, 2004 at 17:29 | #5

    “whether there were moves afoot to find Cameron a safer seat in the event of his loss, and whether these have now been aborted?”

    Aborted? It would be really, really funny if Cameron’s political carer was terminated by an abortion.

  6. Dave Ricardo
    August 30th, 2004 at 17:30 | #6

    That should be career. I don’t know if he has political carer.

  7. snuh
    August 30th, 2004 at 20:07 | #7

    “whether there were moves afoot to find Cameron a safer seat in the event of his loss, and whether these have now been aborted?”

    can we please give him alan cadman’s seat of mitchell? please? it seems to be a good match for cameron; a liberal seat that’s safe as [its many mortgaged-to-the-hilt] houses, chock full of conservative/christian types who attend services at hillsong in alarming numbers.

  8. thersitea
    August 30th, 2004 at 20:37 | #8

    I would ahve thought Barn’s comments were more relevant to a discussion of european moral failure …. how else to explain the chattering class embrace of a corrupt Chirac who exclaims that Saddam is someone you can deal with, and was soooo happy to explode atomic bombs in the pacific as a symbol of …. ????

    arrogant french racist unilateralism perhaps ???

  9. Warbo
    August 30th, 2004 at 21:47 | #9

    I don’t give a flying whatsit about any affairs Ross Cameron has had. The point is, surely, is that he has set himself up as an arbiter of what is morally acceptable (a monogamous heterosexual life-long relationship) and unacceptable (poofs etc) and has been found to be a gross hypocrite.

    Now, if he comes out, so to speak, and recants his cant and extends the same sort of tolerance to others that he hopes to be given, I’ll grant him some respect.

  10. zoot
    August 31st, 2004 at 01:40 | #10

    I’m surprised Barns would offer those cheese eating surrender monkeys as examples.

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