7/22/2007

Is it bad to do "good" for all the "wrong" reasons ?

When you do good, do you do it to ;

a) Genuinely make a difference.
b) Make yourself feel good.
c) Gain as much publicity as possible so that people think you are achieving (a) and (b) and so that people will vote for you.

Personally I always thought you did good simply for reason (a). Lots of people I know, politicians included, do all sorts of good work and help worthy causes without ever seeking publicity for it, yet apparently the Tories good work in Africa requires a BBC reporter to go with them ?

I wonder if the Tories will publich the carbon footprint of all those press people who are going with them to report on what they do ?

Update : I have changed the headline to remove the reference to "publicity stunt", after all, a stunt is something that is fake, and clearly it isn't "fake" that there Tories are there. However, despite what Iain Dale says in the comments, I doubt, for all the good they are doing, that the Tories would have been there at all if there was no press coverage in it for them. So they may well be doing some good, but for the very worst of reasons.

13 comments:

Iain Dale said...

Nich, I'm truly sorry you have writren this. If you were here in Rwanda you would instantly delete the post.

How on earth do you think the Tories "required a BBC reporter to go with them"?

What people are doing here is inspirational. We have a sick country when the best people can do is becynical about 40 people who are out here to do good things. And believe me they are.

I'm about to write my diary of days 2 and 3. If you still believe it is all a stunt then I haven't done a very good job of explaining what is happening

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain. Why does a PR team need to be out there ?

As I said, people do good for the reasons that they want to do good. they don't seek press coverage for it.

What you are doing out there is no doubt worthy, but do it for the sake of doing good, not gaining publicity ?

Tristan said...

Maybe I'm skeptical about people (well, no maybe about that) but I have come across few people, if any, who do things for reason a.

Mostly its reason b although in our media obsessive age c is common.

I actually find that people who claim to be doing it for 'a' are more destructive and dangerous and tend to do worse things (Mother Teresa for example, or to take a rather extreme (and more tenuous) Lenin).

Enlightened self interest is the way forwards.

Anonymous said...

How about Nich offering an apology if :

1) The photos fro mthe trip are not used by candidates and MP's in leaflets.

2) No video footage appears on a Tory Party Political Broadcast.

If neither of these tings happen you'll know it wasn't about shameless self publicity.

A deal ? ( A pretty safe bet I should reckon)

Rob said...

I would be astonished if the footage isn't used on Tory publicity to make them seem nice.

This seems like a PR man's attempt to get rid of the "nasty party" label.

Tom Papworth said...

Complicated question. What do you mean by "doing good"?

If I may paraphrase Adam Smith, the butcher, baker etc. don't provide me with food because they want to do me good, but provide me with food they do. They (and I) are really pretty selfish, but the result is definitely "good" in that we all benefit from specialisation.

So the Conservatives could be doing "good" even for selfish reasons.

The real question is whether there is any reason to vote somebody into public office based on how much charity work they've done (and this seems like an example of a week-long devotion to the poor, rather than a lifetime devotion).

Personally, I'd rather vote for an entrepreneur who has proven s/he can run a large organisation successfully than somebody with good intentions.

Tom Papworth said...

BTW: Tristan, there are plenty of people who do good out of a genuine wish to do good. Don't be so cynical!

What is questionable is not that people's motives, but whether they should be able to coerce people in their desire to do good. Lenin was not evil because his conception of "good" was flawed, but because he used force to realise it.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Nich, do you honestly think it was possible to go to such a country without the media *wanting* to follow them? The media would film David Cameron on his toilet seat given half the chance!

And do you not think that it's a good thing that the world's media are filming a country in a terrible state that would otherwise be yesteryear's news?

Iain Dale said...

I truly despair. This cynicism has to stop as it is eating at the very core of politics. Do you really think Andrew Mitchell orgamised this trip with the sole intention of thinking it would be a good stunt? Obviously you all do. You should be applauding a party that has changed and is proving it has changed by organising these initiatives. People have given up two weeks and paid around £800 of their own money to take part in this. I've seen with my own eyes the good they are doing. I've seen the genuine thanks expressed by the Rwandan people for what they are learning from people who are experts in their field. There are two GPs working in a village which hasn;t seen a doctor in 30 years - it's 4 hours walk (and I mean, walk) from the nearest hospital. They have saved three lives and treated 500 people and trained nursing staff to take over when they leave. Each of the projects has a legacy element to it. It's not a case of a two weeks visit and the nothing. Each project has been carefully planned.

I'll stop now, but I am so sad, Nich, that you have descended into the gutter with this post. I can see what you can't and I'm surprised you can't accept the good that is being done here.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain, If the Lib Dems ahd done it, I'd hate to think what a reaction you would have given to it.

When Norman Lamb did good in North Norfolk, you were quoted I think as saying "The Lib Dem MP has achieved nothing in North except his his slef publicity", when actually he was doing his job.

What goes around ...

Norfolk Blogger said...

Oh and Iain, nice as you are as a person, don't lecture me on cynicism as it is what your blog does so well (I do try and copy your style).

Anonymous said...

Norman Lamb is one of the most obvious self publicists I have ever know.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I guess Mr Anonymous, or Windows 2000 user as I will have to call you, you know him really well don't you ? Especially as you have the same IP as someone who has left a very pro Tory message to another comment. Strange how you know Norman so well yet you are a Tory ?

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