Sunday, November 07, 2010

Expecting More from Our Leaders

As we were finishing our elections last week, a UK court was busy voiding the election last May of a Mr. Phil Woolas

Mr. Woolas' error was simple to comprehend: He knowingly made false statements about his opponent in the election in violation of election law which makes it an offense "to publish 'any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate's personal character or conduct' to prevent them being elected - unless they believed it was true and had "reasonable grounds" to do so."

The court found:
Having considered the evidence which was adduced in court we are sure that these statements were untrue. We are also sure that the respondent had no reasonable grounds for believing them to be true and did not believe them to be true.

Mr. Woolas was ordered to pay £5,000 and costs to his opponent. 

He faces a three-year parliamentary ban.

He was suspended by his party, a deputy leader saying: "It is not part of Labour politics to try to win elections by saying things that are not true."

A party deputy from the opposition said: "Mr Woolas has come severely unstuck and I am very pleased for politics and the rule of law that the judges have said so clearly that this was unacceptable."

What do you call it when we tell our children not to lie but teach them the opposite by tolerating — even celebrating — people in politics and business who gain an advantage by lying?

What could possibly prevent us from embracing in practice the standards we declare with our words?

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