Tuesday, 31 October 2017


The shock horror at revelations of inappropriate sexual behaviour in the House of Commons came as a huge surprise to the media who cover Parliament. There has never been a sex scandal in Westminster before. Ever. Right? I should Profumo, to use some rhyming slang. I can't tell if the present scandals are considered better or worse than a major party leader hiring a hitman to kill his gay lover, but time and the tabloids will tell. I am suspicious, however, of any scandal which allows Julia Heartless-Bruiser to play the heroine.
But to get on point, when it comes to inappropriate behaviour with subordinates, I recall a column Simon Hoggart wrote thirty-some years ago. It was probably in the Tina Brown Tatler, which I confess to having read back then, and hooked to the scandal of Margaret Thatcher's favourite cabinet minister, Cecil Parkinson's impregnating his secretary, Sara Keays, during a long affair, all the while upholding Mrs. Thatcher's 'Victorian Values,' just as one of the heartthrobs of the blue-rinse Tory faithful ought to.

This must have been in 1983, when the scandal forced his resignation, but before his heartless callous bullying treatment of Keays after her daughter was born became public knowledge. Hoggart was, like most Westminster insiders, approaching the story with some levity. I couldn't find the original column, but memory says it the punchline was something like "it would be an exaggeration to say that the air at Conservative Central Office at 5pm on a Friday was filled with the noise of assistants smacking against desk tops, but not much of one."
They say politics is show business for ugly people, which doesn't explain Harvey Weinstein, but may go some way toward understanding how the power elite functions with those less powerful, in the hothouse and treacherous upwardly mobile atmosphere of Parliament. Shocked! I'm shocked to discover politicians abusing those under them...now they know how the electorate feels.

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