People despise politicians because someone like Chris Huhne can be one
People despise politicians – but whose fault is that?
Huhne cheated on his wife Vicky Pryce with a Carina Trimingham and then lied and lied knows why he ended up divorced and in prison. And he knows who is to blame. No, not him for his lies. It was others who told the truth:
…to point out that the AA’s pollsters say 300,000 people have swapped speeding points and that it seemed like a minor matter back in 2003. I should not have done it. The personal consequences were monstrous for my family and me, including two months in prison.
Most of the saga was played out brutally in public, but there are some hidden eddies that reveal how politicians have become so distrusted. My endgame began when Neville Thurlbeck, the chief reporter of the now defunct News of the World, heard gossip that I was having an affair. Rather than cheapskating on the proposed investigation by hacking my phone, the News of the World put me under extensive surveillance by a retired policeman, a more expensive exercise.
The paper invested its own money.
…The News of the World sparked the end of my marriage, but another Murdoch title, the Sunday Times, then groomed my ex-wife until she told them about the speeding points. The political editor bought dinners, sent flowers, offered breaks at smart hotels, and reassured her that she would not face any unpleasant consequences (such as prison).
Four successive weeks as the splash in the Sunday Times ensured our joint prosecution. The Crown Prosecution Service loves a celebrity trial. It was the end of my political career, and it locked up my ex-wife too. She was just another “burned contact” for the Murdoch press.
Not that he’s looking for someone to blame for being exposed as a proven liar.
The moral of this story? First, none of this would have been possible without my own mistakes. I am no saint (but nor did I claim to be). Second, politicians now have to live with a 24-hour media, which is more intrusive and hurtful for the people they love, and this is having a corrosive effect on how the public view politicians, and politics itself.
Says the man who cheated on the wife who’d lied for him.
There is a new aggression in the tabloid press. John F Kennedy and David Lloyd George would have been toast. I suspect the only reason John Major was able to keep his affair with Edwina Currie secret is that it seemed so improbable. Politicians are human. A quarter of married men have an affair. I doubt the ratio in the Commons is different, but the consequences can be.
Ultimately, the new media aggression is not just a problem for those individuals directly affected, it is a problem for us all. Media ownership must be more diverse because it is the lifeblood of public debate. If competition policy is not enough, then we should have statutory limitations or even help for small media outfits (as other countries do). It is not only votes that make a democracy, but voices too.
So. A more liberal Press would have ignored the liar who broke the law?
The Telegraph in a leader responds:
“A more self-delusional and morally contemptible article would be hard to imagine. Many people have swapped speeding points, he wrote, as if this made any difference to his breaking the law. Moreover, he claimed that a newspaper investigation into his affair with another woman ‘sparked the end of my marriage’. It seems not to have occurred to him that his adultery was responsible for that.”
Janice Turner in The Times:
“And no coincidence Huhne wrote his mea non-culpa for The Guardian. Randomly drop in the phrase ‘phone-hacking’, note you were exposed by The Sunday Times, invoke the name Rupert ‘Beelzebub’ Murdoch himself and hope a liberal conspiracy will swirl up like marsh gas to obfuscate your crime.”
“Not a “Murdoch press target”. A Neville Thurlbeck target. My source, my story. & it took a year to persuade the ed to run it.”