One of our Readers was reflecting yesterday in church about the MPs' expenses scandal. He wondered if they are not actually true representatives of the electorate in the sense that given the opportunity, most people would probably exaggerate their expense claims if they thought they could get away with it. This is no excuse, but when we talk about standards we have to make sure that if we criticize others we are not being hypocritical. Would I claim more on my expenses if they were paid from public coffers rather than the cash-strapped church? I might be tempted to. (In case you are interested, I have claimed for carpets to be cleaned in the part of my house where I host church meetings.)
So perhaps we get the representatives we deserve - men and women who are no better and no worse than we are.
Whatever the case, I'm sure many of the people of Zimbabwe would wish for a government such as ours, even with all its shortcomings. The lavish opulence that Robert Mugabe lives in compared with the majority of the population makes our MPs' claims seem trivial, and the fear which his government spreads around supporters of the opposition makes our political shortcomings seem small. I guess that if people were brave enough to question the expenses of government ministers in Zimbabwe they might get severely punished.
Thank God that we live in a country where government is still relatively open and honest, and that we have the freedom to call politicians to account in the media and through the ballot box. I really hope that the main political parties haven't damaged their reputations so much that some of the the minority extremist parties gain at their expense in the European elections.