‘I will honour Christmas in my heart and keep it all the year’

Alastair Sim's Scrooge is the personification of the potential of power to corrupt.
Alastair Sim's Scrooge is the personification of the potential of power to corrupt.
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HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes

The 19th Century politician Lord Acton is nowadays chiefly remembered for concluding that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Even this idea was not entirely his own; a far greater statesman, Pitt the Elder, had said something similar a hundred years earlier. Pitt knew that the basis of all wisdom is the knowledge that man has sinned and is fallen.

At this special time of year many of us will be entertained by Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, or perhaps the wonderful film adaptation starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge – the personification of the potential of power to corrupt.

His redemption comes after visits, over a single night, from the ghost of his late partner Jacob Marley and the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

Dickens’ message is a Christian one. The Spirt of Christmas Yet to Come forces Scrooge to visit his own grave and experience the desolation of death without the promise of redemption.

But the miracle of Christmas is that a child was born to save us all from our sins.

Christmas is a time of selflessness and giving, a time to remember that we all have the power to do good; to open our hearts to all around us. Those of us that hold office, whether in national or local government, are missioned with a special duty to lead by the example of observing the core principles of public life, including honesty and integrity. Or, put more simply, to follow Dickens’ words of advice – ‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and keep it all the year.’