04 May 2022, The Tablet

Restore virtue to public life

Morality in politics


It is a commonplace of modern politics that the public does not trust politicians, and a regular trickle of scandals keeps it that way. When this gets out of hand, democratic politics itself becomes impossible. The United States seems to be heading in that direction, with the very possibility of honest and fair elections being called into doubt. In the United Kingdom the issues are usually more personal. And they often involve sex, where the thresholds of what is ignorable and what is intolerable are shifting. The political environment may actually be becoming more moral. Abuses once regarded as “banter” are now seen as harassment and intimidation – which they always were. But to the public it looks like politicians are becoming less moral, and there are calls for stricter rules, more strictly enforced.

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