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Commons standards tsar: ‘depressingly disillusioning’ when leaders let us down

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Daniel Greenberg said working in Westminster could also be inspiring.

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Parliament

Parliament’s sleaze watchdog said it was “disillusioning” when political leaders were “exposed for corruption, hypocrisy or other moral failure”.

Daniel Greenberg, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, said it could be “personally upsetting” for loyal followers of a leader who lets them down.

But he insisted that working in Parliament could also be “inspiring” because of the “public service values” on display.

Mr Greenberg, who took on the role as Parliament’s standards watchdog in January, did not identify any political leaders who had failed to be trustworthy.

But his comments follow a year of political turmoil in Westminster which saw Boris Johnson forced out following a series of scandals and Liz Truss’ short-lived premiership end in economic chaos before Rishi Sunak’s appointment as Tory leader and Prime Minister.

He was speaking in the Thought for the Day segment of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on the Jewish Shavuot festival.

“Working in public life can sometimes be depressingly disillusioning, in particular, when a leader in whom people have trusted is exposed for corruption, hypocrisy or other moral failure,” he said.

“It’s personally upsetting for those who have liked and trusted that leader.

“But working in Parliament in particular is also profoundly inspiring. Every day we can see how the principles that underpin parliamentary democracy, in particular the seven principles of public life – integrity, honesty, openness, accountability, selflessness, objectivity and leadership – transcend personalities and party political divisions and unify the parliamentary community in loyalty to public service values.

“Political leaders come and go, leaving varying legacies, but the principles of public service endure and outlast the personalities who from time to time represent.”

He said Shavuot’s “wider message is that we should set aside time regularly to remind ourselves of our own core values, and to internalise them so that we’re living them personally, not vicariously through leaders who may or may not turn out to have been worthy of our trust”.

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