As we watched many stalwarts of British politics and their parties decimated today in a Conservative and SNP pincer movement, a wave of farewell speeches ensued.
Before Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, stepped aside, followed swiftly by UKIP’s Nigel Farage and Labour Leader, Ed Miliband (wry smile, Miliband. D?) we heard from former Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, who was unceremoniously ousted following a recount.
There was something very striking about all of those speeches; they were peppered with the kind of political honesty and public service passion that was utterly absent during weeks of campaigning.
Perhaps if Nick Clegg had concentrated less on being seen playing sports in his jumper and Ed Miliband hadn’t felt the need to almost yell “hell yes!” to prove how tough he was(n’t), we could have seen more to believe in.
Even Balls came across as unusually heartfelt and Farage, more typically, told it how it was (“It’s like a weight off my shoulders” and “I’m going on holiday”).
None of the parties, with the exception perhaps of the SNP, covered themselves in glory in this election for telling it like it was. It was photo call after stage managed photo call that we were subjected to when it came to the leaders. Faux passion was everywhere in evidence – and Brits can smell that a mile off.
There’s definitely a lesson in there for modern politicians. Honesty brings its own pitfalls and tough questions, but given that they’re scrapping over the keys to the country, we only want the best and brightest who can handle that anyway, do we not?
The only one who hasn’t been able to get it off his chest is the returned Prime Minister, David Cameron. But now he’s back with a wafer-thin majority, he’s got plenty of other things on his plate. Displaying the kind of openness that would get him cut to pieces by troublesome backbenchers won’t be high on his agenda…