SC: What you are essentially saying here is that, in the case of Wilberforce, the end justified the means.
CM: No. I'm saying that, along with people like Wellington, Vyse and Trollope, all of whom made significant contributions to cultural and/or political life, Wilberforce parted with £8,000 in an effort to become an MP. People were so used to the system that they didn't even consider this bribery as such. They described them as 'the customary payments' - and some of the people who received these payments didn't even bother to vote.
SC: Do not kid yourself. These ‘customary payments’ were illegal and those who handed them out knew that. They also knew that if you got caught making electoral bribes, you could go to jail. Yes, it was a corrupt system. No one doubts that. But Howard-Vyse knew exactly what he was getting into. Tricky Dicky CHOSE to enter the corrupt electoral system in the full knowledge that to win the seat, he would have to fight dirty; he would have to buy votes; he would have to suspend his morality. It was a dirty place to be but he was more than willing to go there regardless of how corrupt a system it was. In short, Tricky Dicky was quite willing to act in a corrupt manner when ‘needs must’. Were he so principled he would have simply refused to enter into such a corrupt system.
And let us also not forget here that bribery was only one of the corrupt means employed by people such as Howard-Vyse. Elections at this time were not secret ballots. If a particular voter could not be ‘bought’ then other means were often employed – intimidation, violence or the threat of being evicted from their home or thrown out of their jobs. It takes a very particular type of person to go to such lengths – to do whatever it takes – to win the ballot. It may not have come to that in Howard-Vyse’s case but it COULD have and he would have known that beforehand; he would have known before standing that he would have to be prepared to stoop to such low means if that is what was needed in order to win. And he would have considered all of these potential difficulties and strong-arm tactics BEFORE standing. And still it did not deter him. A real wholesome, lovely man that Tricky Dicky.
SC: But it is the ‘means’ that is the issue here – not the end result. Both Howard-Vyse and Wilberforce demonstrated their ability to blatantly and ruthlessly disregard the law of the land in order to obtain something they coveted. It is their absolute willingness to fight dirty and their ability to suspend their morality in order to achieve their goal that is the issue here, for that is the flawed character trait they both possessed and just because they may then have gone on to do some good, does not mean that this flawed character trait has been expunged from them.
CM: You forgot to include Pitt, Wellington, and many other members of the establishment operating in the particular political and social context at that time. Not all of them, of course, were as concerned with matters of morality and religion as Vyse and Wilberforce.
SC: See above. They all knew the dirty game they were getting involved in BEFOREHAND and they all understood how dirty they might have to be, the lengths they might have to go to (bribery, intimidation, violence, threats of eviction from home and job) in order to secure victory. Do not kid yourself otherwise.
CM: Vyse, not particularly concerned about how he got into Parliament, left after a couple of years, and later went on to discover ancient quarry marks in Khufu's pyramid.
SC:You're quite right - Howard-Vyse wasn't particularly concerned about how he got into Parliament and that lack of concern would manifest itself by him employing whatever means necessary to get himself there which often included bribery, intimidation, violence, threats of eviction from home and job. In short, Tricky Dicky suspended his morality in order to get into Parliament, to get what he coveted. That he has demonstrated his ability and willingness to do so once when 'needs must' then he most certainly could do so again whenever ‘needs must’. THAT is the point.
Post Edited (13-May-13 11:59)