Wednesday, 6 March 2013

One of our state

politicians has just made himself the focus of attention by taking on a three day a week job with a major law firm. 
This politician is "retiring" at the next election and is clearly looking to the future. He has been a Minister in the past. I have had dealings with his office. It is one of the few occasions on which I have welcomed union interference. (The representative told him the situation of which I had complained was dangerous - it was - and that the union would go out on strike unless the simple, cost free solution proposed by me was put in place immediately.) He was not too happy about it - or pleased with me.
If someone is not able to cope with something as simple as that I wonder how on earth the same person believes they can cope with being a full time politician and a part time lawyer. Are they 1.6 people to begin with? I doubt it.
Being a politician should be a full time job. If you are not talking with and working for your electorate you should be. There should be no time for a three day a week job elsewhere. If there is then you are simply not doing your job properly.  
I am not suggesting that politicians should be prevented from taking on occasional outside work. Sometimes that must be a very good thing. An unpaid directorship of an organisation or business can be very useful. It can keep you in touch with what is going on. If it is on the register of political interests and you remove yourself from the decision making process should something come up then it must be a very good thing indeed. 
It rarely works like that of course. Just "endorsing the product" (in this case the company or organisation) can be a problem. There will always be the suggestion that you are being "paid" in some way or other. Politicians are expected to give up the lot - even long term investments. Apart from their own homes a politician should own nothing of any substantial value - or so the fickle public would have them believe.
That is ridiculous of course. Some of our politicians are very wealthy people. They have wealthy spouses too. Many of them do have share portfolios - although they will claim to have them at a distance and managed by others. They own "family run" farms and businesses. It is of course often how they get into politics in the first place.
But taking on a three day a week job twelve months out from "retirement" as a politician is something else. It is thumbing your nose at your electorate. It is telling them, "You don't matter to me any more. It's a safe seat. You will vote the same way again. You will have representation again after next year's election. I am looking after my own interests."
I wonder though at the ethics of the law firm which has employed him.

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