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  • Mike and Helen

A Whiff of Authenticity



Last week was a good week. When we asked readers to share their coping mechanisms, they did.  Not only were we encouraged by the responses but the number of likes on comments suggested that our readers were supporting each other too.


So this week we are doing it again and here’s our question: what signs of trustworthiness (if any) do you seek/find in people in public life?


First some of our questions - and responses:


Do I trust Donald Trump when he says that he is innocent of all the 34 charges on which the New York jury have just found him guilty?


Do I trust Paula Vennells, former CEO of the Post Office, when she says that she really did not know what was happening to so many postmasters who suffered in the Post Office scandal?


Do I trust Benjamin Netanyahu when he says that it was a ‘tragic mishap’ that 45 people were killed and several hundreds wounded in the Israeli attack on the camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah?


Do I trust Rishi Sunak when he says we can see the green shoots of economic recovery in our country?


It’s difficult to offer anything other than a negative response to any of these questions as these four leaders asked us to trust their version of major events this week.


It did not inspire trust in Trump when he stood outside the courthouse and with belligerent anger blamed the judge, the jury, the Biden government, anyone but himself, for his conviction. It did not help when Vennells seemed so vague in her evidence to the Post Office enquiry in Westminster. It did not help that Netanyahu claimed that mistakes inevitably happen in times of war to protect citizens from a vicious foe. It did not help when the Prime Minister appeared to speak robotically from a memorised script.

So, if none of the above performances inspired trust, what would?


Trust is a fragile thing which is developed over time and may be destroyed in a moment. Some history of exhibiting thorough knowledge and good judgement inspires trust. Maybe a readiness to accept that people inevitably make mistakes. Maybe the capacity or willingness to see the whole story, inconvenient as some of it may be, and not be simply partisan or binary about it. It involves a delicate mix of humility and conviction, respect for other significant facts of the  matter at hand.


So what would have inspired trust in the behaviour and words of these four people recently so much in the public eye? Some signs of remorse. Some willingness to accept at least partial responsibility, some compassion, some real concern for the public good, a little less ego, less wish to hold on to power. A whiff of authenticity. Admittedly, this is close to impossible because of the distortions of the media which frame these four people and tell their stories. Most of the media have their own big issues with trustworthiness. Do we trust any of them?


So – what is left to us if we don’t want to develop a canker of mistrust for everyone and a cynicism that corrodes us from within. If we don’t want to leave the world to darkness and the likes of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, our only option is to keep searching for and supporting signs of authenticity and credibility and trustworthiness in public life.


What do you look for? And where do you find a whiff of authenticity?


Photo: Penelope Barrett - Alamy

 Here's one politician with more than a whiff of authenticity: Caroline Lucas, twice leader of the Green Party, a member of the European Parliament and then MP for Brighton Pavilion from 2010-2024 increasing her vote at every General Election. Sadly she is standing down in 2024.

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Mike and Helen
Jun 03

This week’s editorial in the Church Times recognising the dilemma for management treading the fine line between trust and suspicion…

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colin.weedon
Jun 01

Oh !! And Caroline Lucas just verifies my approach - - - excellent. There are other examples, but she is pretty good.

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Mike and Helen
Jun 01
Replying to

Who are the other examples please?😊

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colin.weedon
Jun 01

Your four examples are well chosen - - we would all have no doubts about 3 of them at all. Vennels ? Not sure. I like to think the best of people and of her, the best I can think is that she was incompetent, not up to the job, misguided, badly advised (by her own chosen advisers) .... as you can tell, I'm teetering. And Bregman's book doesn't help me here because it deals with the generality, not with the potentates (didn't want to say 'leaders').


what do I look for ? it's very very subtle if I'm looking for trustworthiness. It's much easier if I look for UNtrustworthiness - - the obvious second agenda, the potential gain f…


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Mike and Helen
Jun 01
Replying to

Accept that Paula Vennells doesn’t quite belong as fully to the category…maybe we have been too influenced by her inhumanity and intransigence in ‘Mr Bates and the Post Office’….

What we would like to hear, Colin, is who in public life you would name as also having a whiff of authenticity?

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colin.weedon
Jun 01

Thanks again for a great post - - I will answer you rquestions in a minute. But first, you ask "what is left to us if we don’t want to develop a canker of mistrust for everyone". Let me recommend, most highly, a book my son lent me called "humankind" by Rutger Bregman. Not to make too much of a spoiler he states (and to my mind proves) that people are, in the vast vast majority - good. Please do read it if you can - it is very refreshing. However, the issues arounf people who are in the public eye require a second rsponse - - coming up .......


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Mike and Helen
Jun 01
Replying to

Thanks for the recommendation Colin…keep ‘em coming!

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