Motives of politicians

It is interesting to speculate on the reasons that people have for becoming politicians. I think most politicians would say that they went into politics because they wanted to improve the lot of people and to put something back into society. They believe that their ideology or political party was the way to do this and so put themselves up for politics.

This reasoning has force if someone enters politics after a career – perhaps a successful career – so that they can put something back having taken it out.

A person who is wealthy or who has become wealthy can afford to put something back; some would argue that such a person has a moral duty to put a great deal back, but those politicians coming to politics after having amassed a pile do not as far as I can see impoverish themselves by entering politics, rather they avoid becoming wealthier.

However there has now emerged, or rather it emerged some years ago, a class of politician who is not entering politics to put something back, but as a career in itself. The present Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the leader of the opposition party have never had a career except politics. I do not count the odd months spent in someone’s notional employ, especially where the employer was another politician.

The pattern seems to be that the aspiring politician should go to a famous university, study something, preferably politics economics and philosophy, work as an advisor to an established politician or in some kind of political public relations, get a safe seat in the house of commons, helped by the connections made at the famous university and the period aiding the established politician, and get elected on the ticket of a major political party, because the electorate tends to trust political parties,

Tony Blair was I suspect the first Prime Minster who never had a job outside politics; he dabbled a bit with law but could hardly be described as having made a career of law. He set the trend and now everywhere there are professional career politicians. They are by far the majority of members of the House of Commons and unelected members of the House of Lords.

These politicians are not in the business of putting anything back. Indeed if Mr Blair never put anything back but after he stepped down has managed to take quite a lot and he is not alone in doing so. If Mr Blair had not been elected hardly anyone would pay to listen to his speeches or to read his book. It seems that you get elected to improve things and having not improved things get unelected and make your wedge off the back of having been elected. Odd, isn’t it?

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