Contrary to popular belief, Lord Acton didn’t say that “all power corrupts”, but only that it tends to.
He was, however, unequivocal that absolute power is corrupting.
Yesterday’s Scotsman would seem to confirm that – there are reports on Jacob Zuma, the South African president, and his £14 million state-funded “upgrade” to his home, including a cattle enclosure and swimming pool, Michelle Obama’s “Chinese junket”, and the wife of the Israeli prime minister bullying their housekeeping staff.
It would be nice to think that in good old GB we were much less likely to abuse official responsibility for personal gain, but the MPs’ expenses scandal a couple of years ago is only one of many examples of the corrupting effect of power which seems to turn idealistic servants of the state into greedy fat cats.
It would be nice to think that in an independent Scotland where political representatives would be better known to their constituents there would be less chance of corruption developing, but human nature being what it is, it would be better to develop a system of checks and balances now, rather than hoping our future politicians will let conscience guide them.
(Dr) Mary Brown