Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Our Prime Minister is also a

volunteer member of a Rural Fire Service Team. He has attempted to keep up that role despite becoming Prime Minister.
Over the weekend he did a fourteen hour shift on the front line along with the rest of the crew - and he has been criticised for it.
There are two ways of looking at this but let me first say that his office did not tell the media where he was or what he was doing. Social media came up with some rather indistinct photographs taken by other people who saw a chance. I don't think they did anyone any favours. It was actually rather irresponsible of them.
We all know about our PM and volunteering. There was no need to tell people again.
There are cynics who say that the PM just does it for a photo opportunity - and they will probably say "Well his office didn't say anything because they knew that someone would do it for them."
There are other cynics who will say, "Bet, he was only there long enough to get on camera."
There are critics who say, "He shouldn't be fighting fires at all. He should not put himself in harm's way. He should be running the country."
There are other critics who say, "If it is his time off he should be spending it with his family."
Yes, all those things can be said but we can also say, as his team leader did, that he did a full shift and then some. He had to be fit. He had to take orders. He had to take responsibility for himself and others because team work is everything in that sort of situation. He was actually setting an example and not just telling other people they should volunteer.
And that, surely, is the other side? It is common to see photographs of politicians out walking, jogging, playing tennis or taking a foreign dignitary for a round of golf.  We see politicians lined up serving meals or "lending a hand" at some event which is carefully stage managed.
I suspect this was different. The PM was there for fourteen hours. He has been a member of the RFS for fourteen years. It has been a long term commitment. Of course there are photo opportunities. It probably hasn't done him any harm but to suggest that he only does it for the publicity he is likely to receive is, I think, going a little too far.
I wonder what would happen if all politicians did something like this? I know a number of politicians - not all of the same political persuasion I hasten to add - and only one of them is what I would consider to be a committed volunteer. The rest of them belong to groups in a manner which suggests that they are there for the opportunities it provides. They don't attend meetings regularly or generally pull their weight but the organisations in question are happy to have them because they can also use their names. It works both ways.
But being a volunteer fire fighter would seem to be different. It has taken a long term commitment. Team work is essential. So is training. You can't just turn up when you feel like it or when asked to open the annual event or be the MC at the annual dinner.
Yes, it is dangerous but I have nasty suspicion that were our PM to go sky diving or bungee jumping or indulge in some extreme sport our sports mad country would love him for it.
Perhaps the real problem is that he is in an uncomfortable reminder to some people that they do not volunteer.
Personally I would rather have our PM at the other end of the hose than someone who cannot make that long term commitment. It might not be particularly wise of him given his present position but he made a commitment and he seems to be sticking to it. Perhaps some of his critics could try doing the same thing?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Most of his critics would be a quivering wreck before the fire started!