Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why can't people forgive Ming for looking old?

Whatever you think of Ming Campbell's performance as Liberal Democrat leader, one of the reasons that he is struggling to make an impact reflects no credit on modern British society.

Too many people think it is funny simply to point out that Ming looks elderly. And indeed he does look old for his years, largely because of the illness he suffered a few years ago. It must be galling for a former Olympic sprinter to suffer this treatment, particularly as he could probably still give many of his tormentors in the press ten yards' start.

But if a comedian or journalist had made similar reference to the fact that a politician was a woman or was gay or was Black, it would have finished that comedian or journalist's career. Yet in our society it is perfectly acceptable to make fun of people for being old.

We use to value wisdom in politicians and assume that it came with age. Are we really so shallow that we now want our leaders to be like Tony Blair in his early years in Downing Street, leaving a guitar outside Downing Street where everyone can see it and pretending to be a football fans?

1 comment:

Olly Kendall said...

You're quite right. we pass all these age discrimination laws for the workplace and the very people signing them off are themselves guilty of abusing it (in spirit if not in law). take lord owen who recently (albeit with his own gripes about the party) in an interview with the parly monitor mag he wryly points out that, ming is "only a couple of years younger than me". whoopy do.

he went on: "He should be replaced by a young Turk like Chris Huhne, who has produced some very good ideas on the environment."

i love the fact that in the chamber we have all these outdated rules and obscure titles to address members by which are supposed to reflect a respect for one's peers, and yet these same people are quite happy to abuse any sense of decency when it comes to this issue.

i actually think it ultimately reflects badly on the person who points out his age. it's obvious to most people that Ming isn't as youthful as cameron so its just stating the bloody obvious.