Just in case we were in danger of thinking that politicians of the past were largely in the game to improve the lot of all in their country, Allan Massie’s piece on former Labour spin doctor Damian McBride (Perspective, 25 September) helpfully brings us down to earth, pointing out just as many examples of past nasties and incompetents.
It seems clear that politics, as it has always been carried out, attracts the wrong people.
With some notable exceptions (funnily enough, I cannot think of any off the top of my head) the job seems designed to attract power-crazed, egotistical chancers.
What Allan doesn’t tell us is how we might overcome this state of affairs.
We could do as the apocryphal tribe described by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus, and select the individual who most clearly didn’t want the job, but given the propensity of politicians to pretend emotion, this might not be a very effective strategy.
However, what might work better is a system of truly local government, something we might approximate to in an independent Scotland simply because of the size and population density of the country.
Even in the current political system, there is really no need for MPs or MSPs to spend much time at Westminster or Holyrood respectively.
With the current state of technology it would be quite possible, for example, for most of them to attend meetings by video or weblink – and it could be said that the majority of meetings are ineffective anyway.
If they were firmly anchored in the community which voted for them and focused on understanding the local environment and its relationship with the wider nation, politicians might even learn a bit of humility.
Failing that, at least the local electorate could keep a close eye on them and nip any bad behaviour in the bud.
(Dr) Mary Brown