Tag Archives: stanley johnson


I can’t remember an actual case of nepotism – strictly offering a leg-up to one’s nephew – but the spirit of nepotism lives on. The word was coined to refer to the practice of mediaeval popes when they appointed family members, usually nephews, as cardinals.  It is used more broadly today to include family members and friends, although cronyism is a variant that specifically refers to friends and associates.

Donald Trump famously practiced the art and gave White House and advisory posts to members of his own wider family (although he actually denied his nephew essential medical care).

Is there a word for favouring one’s father? Not paternalism, which refers to a benign form of dictatorship. Can we invent one, as it seems to be a thing? Maybe paterism?

Anyone in public office who offers jobs or awards to people close to them can expect to be ridiculed and criticised. This is true even where the recipient genuinely deserves the honour – those decisions should be left to others.

As a councillor I was well versed in the need to declare an interest when a proposal was being discussed.  That would certainly have included instances when members of my family or close friends would have been affected, for better or worse, by the outcome. If in doubt we were encouraged to take advice, if necessary from the Council’s Monitoring Officer (usually the Head of Legal Services). If the interest was substantial or pecuniary then I would remove myself from the debate and not vote. This is standard practice in local government.

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