The Nolan Principles of public life. Are we seeing them in action in these difficult times?


I was listening to ‘Thought for the Day’ this morning and the Reverend who presented it brought up this model and asked whether this could be applied to politicians in modern day life.

Three obvious candidates sprung to mind for evaluation.  Theresa May, Donald Trump and, today at least, The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern.

Let’s have a look shall we?

1476991658_Nolan-Principles

I am not particularly qualified to comment on Jacinda Ardern and her day to day political performance,  but I can comment on the news conference she convened to apologise unconditionally to the parents of graduate and backpacker Grace Millane with such emotion that she immediately crossed off leadership, honesty, selflessness, integrity, openness and accountability in one fell swoop.  I hope she is always like this because, today at least, she was a great ambassador for her country.

In case you haven’t seen it…

Now let’s apply these to Trump and May.

Trump first:

Accountability         Well, I think we will have to wait for his impeachment trial to assess.

Selflessness              The man is a criminal.  Crime is fundamentally selflish.  Not selfless.

Integrity                    The man is a criminal.

Objectivity                He fires nearly all of his advisors – if they disagree with him. So, no.

Leadership                He thinks he is a leader.  We all know he is a fool.  So, no.

Honesty                      The man is a criminal.

Openness                   Well, he passes on one of seven.  If Twitter counts.

Now May:

Accountability        Largely, so I’d say.  She is democratic.

Selflessness             I think yes, for sure.  On personal level look what she is going through.

Integrity                  I don’t think you can question that.

Objectivity              I’m afraid not.  She is too blinkered.  She is not a good listener.

Leadership              You can argue this both ways but I find her too intractable.  It’s a no.

Honesty                   Borderline.  (largely so) but she was forced to publish the Brexit legals.

Openness                Again borderline, for me.

Much more tolerable than Trump, for sure but she only clearly passes on 3/7 and borderline on another 3.