This week Gordon Brown announced his retirement from parliament which prompted the usual comments in the media. These ranged from being someone who was very moody and sullen to the saviour of the world’s economy; a not incompatible combination. However, what was emphasised in some was his strong moral compass. Something I hold to be extremely important. Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” springs to mind and, interestingly, Steve Bell’s cartoon in this week’s “Guardian” has made use of just that poem.
Now, I have spent much of my life trying to make sense of what was an accidental set of circumstances that affected my life more than I ever imagined. In fact, it’s only now that I am able to admit to myself how devastating the situation was and would continue to be for, probably, a large proportion of my life. My response then and now has always been to get on with it. What my wife calls my incredible perseverance. And the point of this is? Well, it’s because I feel that it has helped me to develop a strong moral compass, the way I think things should be and how I try to behave, not always successfully I have to admit.
I imagine that most people have such a compass although I have to say that I fail to understand how those of some wealthy and powerful individuals operate. If they act in their private lives in a similar fashion to their public ones, I can’t imagine what their families have to put up with. Perhaps they have a number of moral compasses which operate independently of one another subject to circumstance. As most of these people appear to be male, combined with the fact that I have a high regard for women, I can’t believe that they could be allowed to get away with their public behaviour at home. Coming from a tight knit, working class family, we children always knew where the combined strength of that family lay. The men may have just fought a war and returned to a life of hard, manual work involving long hours and few prospects, but the women were our rock, our harbour. Together they were the real power behind the throne. Yet what they all had in common was that moral compass. It’s probably what made them vote, not for the man who they all believed had saved the country at a time of its greatest peril, but for a Labour government promising a welfare state with its social care for working people.
I realise that times have changed and that we live in a different world today but what I wouldn’t give to have those who govern, or purport to govern, us demonstrate that strong moral compass. I suspect that they’d get more than just my vote. Oh and finally, I think that history will be kinder to the aforementioned Mr Brown who I have always had a sneaking admiration for.