In an interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday, Lord Tebbit, the former cabinet minister under The Conservative governments of the 1980s, has indicated he would not be surprised if there was a political cover-up of a paedophile ring in parliament. He further stated that at the time the sub-conscious attitude was that “the establishment was to be protected”. In today’s modern Britain, in which barely a week goes by without a public inquiry, (or a call for one), this kind of image obsessed cover up seems patently ridiculous. It also makes me wonder, is our current celebrity obsessed generation as conscious of image as our grandparents?

Barely a day goes by without a newspaper columnist decrying the vanity of celebrities, particularly the likes of Amy Childs, a star of the reality TV show, The Only Way is Essex, whose vajazzled and surgically altered body has been singled out for criticism. But were our grandparents and thier fellow baby-boomers any different with regards to the vanity? I think they not… but it was very different.

Houses of Parliament

Rights; Paul Kehrer

The social attitude of the time was a buttoned-up and private. It was particularly important to portray the right image, to appear to be the ideal; the model citizen, family or employee. This, though, is a far-more damaging type of vanity. It is typified in people’s personal lives by the scorn which was delivered to those who were products of a divorce, a broken home.

However ridiculous it may seem that a miserable married couple stay together for years just to keep up appearances, this attitude did exist. Unfortunately this way of thinking was much more damaging in professional spheres. A number of high profile incidents, which have recently been the subject of high profile enquiries, specifically the Hillsborough disaster , in which a catalogue of errors by West Yorkshire police contributed to the death of 96 football fans and of course Jimmy Saville’s disgusting acts. Both of these cases showed that despite apparent widespread knowledge of both, it took 30 years for the truth to finally be revealed. In both of these cases, image was used as a convienent excuse to protect those in the wrong, whilst the victims suffered. I blame the social attitudes of the time for allowing these sort of cover-ups from occurring, as it only benefits the crooks, the charlatans, the incompotent and as this alleged parliamentary paedophile ring shows, the perverts.

That is not to say the modern style of vanity can not be criticised, it breeds an ignorance that can only be terrible for society as a whole, but if you were to give me a choice between this and the avarice of old; I would pick the vajazzle over denial every time.