I like Billy Connolly. He’s a funny man. He can also be offensive at times and enjoys a special breed of black humour. He also understands human nature as is reflected in this quote:
“The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever becoming one.”
We should tell that to Jeb Bush, or Donald, and, perhaps to Guillermo Zapata. If you live anywhere but Spain you’ll have never heard of Guillermo Zapata, but the news has been filled with nothing but details of his twitter account for the past week.
As a newly appointed councillor and the Madrid City Council he was responsible for… wait for it…. Culture.
So it came as something of a surprise that screenshots of his twitter account began appearing first on social media and then national media to the growing sound of sharpening pitchforks. The tweets were from 2011. And they were dark. Very dark. With references to the holocaust, the victims of terrorism and murder. Essentially, in the worst possible taste.
And, of course, the pressure built and he was forced to resign. Actually, a two step resignation. At the time of writing, he has resigned his responsibility for the Department of Culture – but has retained his seat on the council. It is unlikely that he will be able to resist the pressure to take the second step before the weekend.
And whilst he has appeared before the press humbly apologising for the offence he may have caused, his real crime is one of stupidity and ego.
People who live in glass houses should not throw stones and I would be the first to cringe if some of my private comments from my (long) past were thrown into the public glare. But twitter is the public glare. The internet is transparent and ultimately full of flocks of chickens all waiting to come home to roost and skeletons in cupboards.
Our politicians will need to learn that they must keep their online personas holier than holy. Starting at a very young age.
Which brings us back to the Billy Connolly quote.
If someone has carefully protected their online persona so as to keep it blemish free since childhood – are they really the kind of person we want in government?
Ask Guillermo Zapata and he will probably tell you that they are…. the question is – do any exist?