There are plenty of examples of these perceived sins – threatening in jest to blow up airports or stone journalists, dressing up in WWII German uniforms for parties* (and, of course, the dreadful ‘Nazi salute’) and our back catalogue of misbehaviour.
We’ve seen how the misdeeds of Cameron and Osborne are used as a stick to beat them with (especially as a great deal of such bad behaviour involves dressing up in penguin suits and wearing embroidered waistcoats – a sin of terrible poshness). But the question for future generations of politicians – if you like, the ‘Facebook’ generation is just how we will deal with the silly antics, the photographs of semi-naked dances in fountains and the louche photographs of drunkenness and seeming debauchery. All great fun for 19 year olds enjoying university or 25 year olds on the office Christmas night out but what about those who go on to be cabinet ministers, bishops or diplomats?
Will we as a society still drag out photos from 20 years ago – or even newspaper reports from ten years past – as the basis for active, current political campaigns? Will we still say that such and such a politician should be sacked or has bad judgment because of some drunken photos that appeared on Facebook twenty years previously? Or will the fact that Facebook – and other social media – provide such a public record of everyone that the response will be “so what”?
I suspect we won’t grow up. We’ll still seek political advantage from other past pranks and misdeeds. The apology will be ignored and the opportunity to look at the whole person ignored in the search for a clever comment, a good spread in the papers or a cutting blog post.
…but I can hope!
*Always wondered why it was OK to dress up as Stalin, Moa or even Pol Pot but not Hitler?