From the booklet introduction: ‘Back to basics’ has boomeranged, and led to back-pedalling in high places. The call for more ‘traditional teaching, respect for the family and the law’, we are now told, was not concerned with personal morality. The dilemma for the Government - or for anyone - is that to call for higher levels of morality makes you vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy. The media are capable of finding sleaze in the life of almost anyone. We may never have fathered a child on the side, but none of us would be particularly pleased to see our past wrong-doings written up in the tabloids. The ‘great and the good’ have proved to be as fallible as the rest of us. So is personal morality a taboo subject, to be left out of the public debate?
That would be comfortable, but a great mistake. For, as I hope to show in this booklet, a general decline in individual morality must inevitably lead to the breakdown of our democratic way of life. While people who find their way to moral and spiritual renewal can strengthen the democratic process. If basic moral values are to be taken seriously in Britain, it will not be through the election of a government of saints. It will be through many of us deciding that how we live matters, and having the courage to set about matching our lives to our ideals. Moral standards, such as total honesty and complete unselfishness, give you a target to aim at and a means of measuring your performance. Vague ideas of ‘being moral’ may yield in the face of the passions and allures of the real world. Of course we won’t achieve perfection. But as GK Chesterton observed, if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.