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Public figures and public morality

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 25 May 2011

There are the sins we know we know; the sins we think we know and the sins we know we don't know, but think we should know. All over the papers and news the rich, powerful and famous are being called to account. It might be Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, mildly mispeaking himself, and thus earning a barrage of demands for his resignation. Or the outrage at Chris Huhne, who - before he was an MP - may have been speeding and may have asked his wife to take his penalty points, a crime which hundreds of thousands of Britons have committed. And that's before we even get to the footballing hero, with his more than wandering eye. We and the media that serve us, are certainly having our moral pound of flesh. Is this the sign of a healthy democracy and a Fifth Estate that knows its moral boundaries and is policing them with commendable vigour? Are we getting more of these stories now because members of the elites in our society are behaving more badly than in the past and therefore need to be brought to book, or is it just our desire to bring down the powerful? Or maybe it's more that our culture is being driven by sanctimony, fear and loathing? Should we be tackling the elite for their moral turpitude, or looking at our own hate fuelled hypocrisy?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by David Aaronovitch with Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Melanie Phillips and Matthew Taylor.

Witnesses:
Peter Oborne - Chief Political commentator of the Daily Telegraph and author of The Rise of Political Lying
Rachel Cooke - Writer at The Observer
Steve Clifford - General Director of the Evangelical Alliance
Aric Sigman - Psychologist, biologist, and author.

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