Schadenfreude should be avoided

7 December, 2007

“You haven’t updated your blog since 25th November,” said my neighbour to me at a charity dinner last night. He was mildly unimpressed by my lack of output, but I was delighted to discover someone who actually read it, apart from my husband and my brother-in-law.

 Apologies to anyone else out there who might read my wandering thoughts on a regular basis: I spent last week travelling between Paisly, Lochgilphead and Edinburgh, arriving home regularly after 10 pm, and this week I started my new job. Working full time again has meant a return to my old habit of falling asleep in front of the News and stumbling to bed, with little enthusiasm for sitting at the computer until late into the night.

 If I subject myself to closer scrutiny, however, I admit that I have been conscious of a slight reluctance to tackle the subject that has dominated the headlines recently: the Donations Scandal(s). 

Oh, I can’t deny that I have watched the Prime Minister’s discomfiture with a small degree of satisfaction (although I’m willing to bet that Tony has been hugging himself with glee at the headlines), and anything that could remove patronisingly ueber-politically correct Harriet Harperson from our television screens just has to be A Good Thing in itself, but I have watched Ms Alexander’s troubles with less satisfaction.

There are two problems with Schadenfreude (apart from the fact that we don’t have a word for it in English): as well as being a deeply unattractive quality, it can rebound on us later. I have only recently been selected, and, to my certain knowledge, any donations I have received to date have been from fully paid-up members of my local Association (for which I am very grateful!), but who knows what murky secrets lie in the undergrowth of party funding?

Are all of our politicians satisfied that they have checked the source, personally, of every single donation that they have ever received? Have they, perhaps, as Wendy did, trusted others to do so properly and in accordance with the law? She may well have signed a thank-you letter, but I took two letters into a meeting for my Boss to sign this week; letters she had looked at in draft, which she then signed hastily, while continuing with her introductions around the table. She didn’t read them again.

I am willing to bet a large sum that one of Wendy’s assistants shoved a couple of ‘bread-and-butter-thank-you-letters-to-donors’ under her nose, while she was talking to someone else, and asked for her signature. None of this excuses her breaking the law, but it might well explain how it happened.

We should all be a little wary of throwing stones, as I suspect that there are politicians out there from all the other parties who are living in glass houses.

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