Uncut editorial: Eric Joyce

Eric Joyce’s resignation from the front bench, the first of Ed Miliband’s leadership, will not have been met with universal sorrow. Over the past couple of years, Mr Joyce and controversy had become soul mates. He resigned from the government over the conduct of the war in Afghanistan. He was very adversely critical of some in the party leadership, particularly in the area of defence. His article on Uncut this week, condemning the perceived hypocrisy of sections of the electorate, handed further ammunition to his enemies.

But we are told that we live in a time where our politicians know nothing but politics. Eric Joyce joined the Black Watch as an 18 year old private. Through the army he earned himself an education, went to Sandhurst, and worked his way up to a commission and the rank of major. He served in Northern Ireland, Germany and Central America.

We are told that our politicians are loyal only to their own ambition. Eric Joyce resigned from the army, adversely criticising the institution as “racist, sexist and discriminatory”.  When he stood down from his position as PPS to defence secretary, Bob Ainsworth, he said, “Above all, Labour must remember that service folk and their families are our people. We say that we honour them for their risk, bravery and sacrifice and we must, at literally all costs, continue to show that we mean it”.

We are told that our politicians lack honesty. On Monday, Eric Joyce wrote, “Here’s the truth. It’s hard to lie as a politician because everything we say is subject to enormous scrutiny – we’ll get found out even if we wanted to lie in the first place. But politicians know the lies a lot of people live and they pitch to you accordingly. There’s a lot of lying going on, for sure. The letters-page paragons are right in that respect. But they might want to reflect on who is really doing the lying”.

A hinterland. Principles. Honesty. These are our political prerequisites.

But there are things we do not want. We do not want to be challenged. We do not want to be questioned. We do not want our imperfections scrutinised by those who may themselves be imperfect.

The mistakes that are the price of our humanity will not be tolerated from those who govern us. They are servants of the public. And the public is a hard taskmaster.

There is no room in our politics for vulnerability, or for weakness. And so there is no room for Eric Joyce.


5 Responses to “Uncut editorial: Eric Joyce”

  1. Jane says:

    I feel very sorry for Eric Joyce. An error of judgement of course but he is human. I hope he can rejoin the front bench team in the future. I am not sure I agree with you about vulnerability and weakness having no place in politics. At certain times of our lives we can be vulnerable or weak but this should not detract from overall performance.

    I once undertook an exercise with people on dealing with offenders. Contrary to press reports individuals once aware of all the facts are more lenient and sympathetic than you think.

  2. Nightmare. I thought he came across as disillusioned in last weeks article. Hopefully he’s not considering quitting politics altogether. There appears to be so few former armed forces personnel in the PLP. Those that are there are worth their weight in gold in being able to convey the reality of life in uniform from the myth. Hang in there, Eric.

  3. Susan says:

    Firstly agree with jane that eric joyce is a loss to front bench of labour. While new blood is a good thing we need shadow spokesmen and woman who have parliamentary exp as well as a breadth of relevant exp outside politics. I do wonder whether the party would benefit from eric joyce staying away for a bit to have the space to ask questions about the party’s defence position and highlight other deficiencies in our thinking as a party. We need fresh thinking to counter the threat posed by the coalition and act as advocates for those who will be most damaged by the coalition’s brutal cuts esp from a scottish perspective. With tom harris no longer blogging it is vital eric joyce continues to pose challenging questions as he has done since he became one of t first to expose institutional bullying in the army at the cost of his caree

  4. Son of McGonagall says:

    Please do not forget that he was the first MP to claim, cumulatively, a million of the taxpayers pounds in expenses, was top of the expenses list for the 2007–08 Parliamentary Session with £187,334 and has some questions still to answer on his second home and capital gains tax.

    More shocking is his refusal to take a breath test when questioned by the police. One set of laws for us and another for the likes of him. The man is an embarrassment and the Labour party should be asking him to consider standing down as an MP because of his newly gained criminal record. If he does not stand down his expenses should be scrutinised to ensure that he does not claim a penny for taxi, bus or train fares in the next 12 months. The taxpayer should not be paying for his punishment.

    With profound apologies I submit this piece of Vogon-esque poetry.

    Shame on ‘Wreckless Eric’ Joyce,
    So beloved of his own shrill voice,
    Opinion on the middle classes, foist,
    With his own petard, has been hoist!

    In drunken darkness he did smack,
    A roadside signpost, alas and alack.
    This Major fool, gets paid a whack,
    His time has come, gie him the sack!

  5. AnneJGP says:

    I was astonished at the scale of the adverse response to Eric Joyce’s article, setting aside the comments appended to it. Indeed it is true that “humankind cannot bear very much reality”.

    I wish Eric well for the future.

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