I started reading philosophy in my 20s. I wanted to live a good life. I thought it would help shape me.
Cicero was one of my biggest inspirations.
He wasn’t considered a proper Roman by some of his snobbish rivals.
His political rise through the law courts to the highest office in Rome came from nowhere and was based on a talent for words.
He was writing and speaking during Caesar’s dictatorship, at a time of unparalleled bloodshed.
Caesar conquered by genocide – by the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of civilians — and by terror. They had dinner together, Caesar and Cicero. He wrote about that too.
Tyranny can always be resisted, at least within one’s own mind, he said afterwards.
Jeremy Corbyn came from nowhere to take the Labour leadership.
Like many, I’d never heard of him before. His selection was laughed at; the way he dressed too. Cardigans? Really? His voting record against his own party made him a traitor.
Then panic set in as the grassroots support mobilised. People wanted to hear him speak. They wanted to hear something different. When they couldn’t get into meetings, he went outside to address the overspill.
What I have noticed is that he engages the younger voters in a way other politicians do not.
They are fed up with the bland, polished sameness; fed up with feeling they are being manipulated all the time, when they just want to know what is going on.
He is a breath of fresh air because he tells the truth, they say. I think what Jeremy Corbyn’s election to Labour Party leader has done is press a political reset button.
He wants to discuss and debate issues; he doesn’t want to engage in such practices as heckling at Prime Minister’s questions.
I have yet to meet anyone who likes that particular tradition anyway. Why hasn’t anyone made a stand before?
Cicero spoke of living a morally good life. There is no nobler motive for entering public life than the resolution not to be ruled by wicked men, he said.
We have some very good politicians, and some others not so good.
I’m interested to see how far Jeremy Corbyn will get challenging the status quo. He’s already got further than anyone envisaged.
With his own party already plotting to bring him down, I wonder if the people power that put him there, will keep him there.