"Political leaders shouldn't attend Remembrance Day services. They weren't even born when the First World War broke out. It's meaningless and costs them nothing."
Understandably, no one ever argues this. Our political leaders publicly commemorate the suffering and sacrifice of those who died in the country's service, even those who died long before they were born, because we demand it of them. It's regarded as one of the solemn duties that come with public office.
But here's what the historian Andrew Roberts had to say this morning on the Today Programme about the official apology from Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, for the policy of transporting British children of "good white stock" to a life of often terrible abuse in Australia after the Second World War:
"Kevin Rudd wasn't even born in 1947. It means absolutely nothing. It's meaningless, it costs him nothing".
Isn't it one of the functions of a political leader, arguably, to acknowledge and apologise for grievous abuses carried out by previous governments, just as it is one of the functions of a political leader to pay respects to the soldiers who died in previous wars?
And isn't the age of the politician in question actually an irrelevance?
Photo: © Andrew Roberts 2008