In the U.K., General Election campaigning is well underway. TV, radio and print news is dominated with all the usual ballyhoo from character assassinations to wild warnings and predictions if this or that happens, and promises and pledges are thrown about like confetti, or more like plates at a Greek ceremony, for many will be broken in post-election betrayals.
The world seems to be more change than continuity and what were once believed to be rights are now commercial products, like health services and education. Change is often for the sake of change to enhance individual or party agendas, not always because the changes make peoples' lives better. Public money is tight unless there is a war or some short-term bandwagon issue and then, hey presto, the empty coffers are suddenly overflowing with an endless supply of cash.
Yesterday's release of the annual Sunday Times Rich List has a gossipy, fun element to it but it is also a reminder that a much bigger publication would be the Sunday Times List of the Poor, Underprivileged and Desperate.
Now, let us set aside the gangsters and shirkers who milk the system via criminal activities and invented ailments and concentrate on people who actually need assistance to survive.
Of all the things that will appear in political party manifestos, one commitment will be missing and if ever we needed a solid pledge for a Secretary of State for Compassion, the time is now.
A Secretary of State for Compassion? In short, this minister's brief would be to challenge government departments' words and actions to ensure that all proposals pass a simple test - is the decision sympathetic to and showing genuine concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of the people, or is the decision an internal political ego trip? In other words, are motives genuine, sincere and relevant to the welfare of the electorate, over and above party politics and affiliations?
Much political discussion seems to be about politicians themselves, whether or not they should talk to each other, whether or not they should give themselves a pay rise and other stubborn and selfish stuff that stalls progress.
Most people, as the advertising industry puts it succinctly, want to lead lives that are legal, decent, honest and truthful. Political shouting and shenanigans get in the way of those desires. Sometimes, and far too often, political decisions make the poor poorer, the underprivileged even worse off and the desperate criminals or suicidal.
The smuggery of politicians! The wily and articulate "representatives" of the people are more in love with their own voices than in the provision of actions that benefit humanity.
A Secretary of State for Compassion could restore a sense of conscience to governments.