I wouldn’t want it to be thought that because I snap at politicians once in a while I think them a bad lot. I get angry with them when they start playing silly games, forget what their sworn duties are and concentrate more on damaging an opposite numbers reputation than they do on improving the lot of the people.
But that doesn’t mean I am unaware of the work they do when they are out of centre ring – the Legislature – and actually serving their constituents.
There is a belief, widely held by journalists who should know better, that elected politicians are only working when the parliament to which they were elected is sitting. The fact is that a parliament in session is show-time, with the main event called Question Period often just poor vaudeville.
Once in a while there is serious debate on new legislation, but not often enough to prove that this is where MLAs earn their generous salaries. It isn’t. Their main work, and it is never ending, is far from the Big Top, unseen and unsung.
Their only break from that work is when they are called into session in Victoria and, as a British MP once said, “happiness becomes the constituency in the rearview morrow.”
It’s a thankless job. Watched every waking hour by media ready to pounce on every miscue in language or in life, they rarely get a deserved thank you. As Julian Critchley, a British Tory once said: “The only safe pleasure for a parliamentarian is a bag of boiled sweets.” And even that can touch off a scandal if discovered on expense account.
Edwina Currie (if you haven’t read her book “A Parliamentary Affair” and would like to know how politics work, it’s still in print.) wrote that life in politics can be dangerous: “The occupational hazards are the three A’s: arrogance, alcoholism and adultery. If you suffer from only one you’re doing quite well.”
Far be it from me, well removed from today’s circus tent, to suggest that any of the three hazards exist among our MLAs, although arrogance does flash its ugly had all too often.
But by and large our locals appear to be a hard working, boiled sweets lot. And for that we should be thankful – and say so.