BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

John Denney 17 October 2007




The Liberal Democratic Party has started the process of choosing a new leader, now that Sir Menzies[1] Campbell has resigned, feeling "irritated and frustrated". It seems he couldn't get out from under the "cloying blanket" of questions about his age and leadership.


Whether or not "Ming" has been a good leader only history will decide. But there have certainly been mutterings that he has been too old for the job. He's 66 years old, and seems fit and active, so what was the problem with his age?


There has been an unhealthy cult of youth in this country for a long time.

        In some professions, you're too old at 40[2].

        In their time,

o       Neil Kinnock (at 39)

o       William Hague (at 36)

o       and Charles Kennedy (at 39)

were hailed as new, young, dynamic and vigorous leaders of their parties. History, again, will judge their success.

        Even our national institutions have been accused of age discrimination.

o       BBC Television has a history of dispensing with the services of women presenters once they're past a certain age: Kate Adie[3], Anna Ford[4] and Moira Stewart[5] are the invisible faces of ageism no longer on our screens.

o       And did you know women over 70 years of age stop getting invitations for breast cancer screening, despite the fact that their risk of contracting it increases dramatically with advancing years[6]?


It wasn't so long ago that the older you got, the wiser you were perceived to be. And isn't wisdom what we need? The political kingmakers and the managers of our businesses and institutions would do well to heed what wise King Solomon said: Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her[7].


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[1] Pronounced "Mingus" - the "z" is the old letter "yog", pronounged as a hard "g"






[7] Proverbs 8:11 MSG