Wayne Maxwell Swan? What were they thinking?

Another ministry sworn into office with the same bland oaths of mumbled allegiance to God, Commonwealth and national duty. We frankly deserve better, a more encompassing commitment. For if the immediate past experience of serial, opportunistic mendacity can be any guide, this is an oath which obliges the sworn minister to little other than the revelation of a sometimes unfortunate middle name.

Not like in the Boy Scouts. When a Scout swears an oath it’s for keeps. Here we turn to the first edition of Scouting for Boys (1908), and the building blocks of self respect, empire and honour.

  Before a lad becomes a scout a boy must take the scout’s oath, thus:
 “On my honour I promise that:
1. I will do my duty to God and the King.
2. I will do my best to help others, whatever it costs me.
3. I know the scout law, and will obey it.”

And the Scout Law, in case you wondered, would apply a testing standard for any modern parliamentarian.

1. A scout’s honour is to be trusted. If a scout says: “On my honour it is so,” that means that it is so, just as if he had taken a most solemn oath. Similarly, if a scout officer says to a scout, “I trust you on your honour to do this,” the scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so. If a scout were to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he would cease to be a scout, and must hand over his scout badge, and never be allowed to wear it again.   2. A scout is loyal to the King, and to his officers, and to his country, and to his employers. He must stick to them through thick and thin against anyone who is their enemy, or who even talks badly of them.   3. A scout ‘s duty is to be useful and to help others. And he is to do his duty before everything else, even though he gives up his own pleasure, or comfort, or safety to do it. When in difficulty to know which of two things to do, he must ask himself, “Which is my duty ?” that is, “Which is best for other people?” do that one. He must Be Prepared at any time to save a life, or to help injured persons. And he must do a good turn to somebody every day.

4. A scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other scout, no matter to what social class the other belongs. A scout accepts the other man as he finds him, and makes the best of him.

5. A scout is courteous: That is, he is polite to all but especially to women and children and old people and invalids, cripples, etc. And he must not take any reward for being helpful or courteous.

6. A scout is a friend to animals. He should save them as far as possible from pain, and should not kill any animal unnecessarily, even if it is only a fly – for it is one of God’s creatures.

7. A scout obeys orders of his patrol leader or scout master without question. Even if he gets an order he does not like he must do as soldiers and sailors do, he must carry it out all the same because it is his duty; and after he has done it he can come and state any reasons against it: but he must carry out the order at once. That is discipline.

8. A scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances. When he gets an order he should obey it cheerily and readily, not in a slow hang-dog sort of way. Scouts never grouse at hardships, nor whine at each other, nor swear when put out. A scout goes with a smile on and whistling. It cheers him and cheers other people, especially in time of danger, for he keeps it up then all the same.

9. A scout is thrifty, that is, he saves every penny he can, and puts it into the bank, so that he may have money to keep himself when out of work, and thus not make himself a burden to others; or that he may have money to give away to others when they need it.

Which we liked a lot. Especially the whistling. Perhaps Kevin could give everyone a copy; in the hope that they might do their best.