It’s not easy being green; or, at least, a green politician. Given their apparently extreme views and self-professed virtue, it sometimes feels as though environmentally minded lawmakers are held to higher standards than their less viridescent counterparts. That appears to be the reason that prosecutors in Berlin have launched an investigation into Germany’s Greens for doling out €1,500 payouts to the six members of its leadership team.
Of course, the payments, dubbed “corona bonuses”, could appear callous in the context of a global pandemic. The popular response seems to be that politicians – especially green ones – should recognise that the bonuses might be seen as inappropriate, whether or not they were, and that, given their politics, the Greens’ leaders, Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck (pictured), should be guided by higher principles than money. This kind of thinking is often on show when it comes to the supposed misdemeanours of left-wing politicians, who in reality are often no more or less virtuous than their right-wing opponents.
At the other end of the expectation scale is Boris Johnson, who this week will find out whether civil servant Sue Gray’s report into alleged partying at Downing Street during the UK’s first lockdown vindicates or further condemns his behaviour. Johnson is often lauded for his “Teflon” status and ability to weather any political storm but, like the aforementioned compound chemical, this reputation can wear thin. We should of course hold our public officials to high standards. But when their reputation is already so compromised that they are believed to be capable of any misdemeanour, then it is surely time to go.