27 January 2008

Ming gets it right about age, but wrong about his ability

This BBC article, from an interview with Ming Campbell, is quite interesting. The mighty Ming makes a case that criticism of his age was a huge reason for him having to stand down (nothing we didn't know there). But he makes a point that age should not be a factor that ruins political careers; he cites the success of McCain as an example of someone of more senior years who is having a succesful impact.

Ming has a point on this. A capable person, whether young or old, should not be punished and criticised solely for their age. We are getting to a point where youth is becoming an all-important factor in politics. My own view is that we ignore the wisdom that comes with age at our peril (and we may be doing so). But, equally, youth (or relative youth) can be great because it brings dynamism and fresh thought which, if it comes with the right sort of nous, is refreshing (which is certainly the case with David Cameron) - but sometimes we are in danger of overvaluing youth and moving people forward when they are not ready for it.

Both youth and age have their place in politics - the right man for the right job.

The bit Ming doesn't recognise is that there comes a point where capability becomes compromised with age. My own view is that Ming had reached that point and *that* is why age was an issue - it was the combination of age and ability, not age on its own.



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