Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Cameron and Huhne: two own goals.

It is difficult to understand why David Cameron is pressing ahead with legalising same-sex marriages.  I suppose he thinks that by introducing this piece of faux liberalism he will dispel some of the image of the Tories as the "nasty party."  however, this  is highly unlikely as he presides over the dismantling our welfare state and civic society and handing the pieces  to private profiteers.  In any case the scheme has backfired  in that a huge amount of publicity is being generated by grass-roots Tory opposition to the move.

The whole issue is essentially trivial in that same-sex partnerships already have all the legal rights enjoyed my married couples. and the negative publicity much exaggerates, I suspect, the depth of Tory opposition.  Twenty-five chairs and former chairs of Tory constituency associations  have handed in letters of protest, but there are 650 MPs and therefore 650 constituencies.  Some of the Tory constituency associations may ave amalgamated because of the paucity of members (eg in Scotland, where Conservative members  are very thin on the ground) but there must be around 600 associations still functioning.  So if they can only scrape together 25 chairs and ex-chairs to protest, that hardly signifies wide-scale grass-roots rebellion.

Nevertheless it is good to see the focus of unfair pillorying switch from Nick Clegg to David Cameron for a change.  I should prefer to see him squirm over his duplicity on electoral reform, his backtracking on House of Lords reform or his wrong-headed economic policy, but something is better than nothing.

I feel exceptionally sorry for Chris Huhne.  Yes, he has committed an offence and made matters worse by lying about it, and the whole matter may never have come to light if he hadn't separated from his wife.  I'm told that passing on driving licence "points" to one's partner in order to avoid a driving bans not  uncommon, though I have no personal experience.  And it was all ten years ago.  The stupid thing is that Huhne was a millionaire at the time (he'll be less so after all the lawyers' fees) and could easily have afforded to take taxis or even hire a chauffeur for the period of his ban.  The whole matter would have cost a few thousand pounds at most and been over within a few months.

There are, I think, echoes of the Profumo affair of the 1960s.  Let's hope that, like John Profumo, Huhne manages to re-rehabilitate himself In some useful sphere.


  1. I am amazed at Cameron's naivety about gay marriage and how he failed to see the emotions it would arouse. You can't legislate to change the meaning of a word.
    As for Huhne I do not find his blatant lying over the past two years to be 'trivial'. He has tried to use his money (probably gained by cheating) to distort justice twice - in 2003 and in 2010-12 - and he deserves whatever is coming to him. I also find it distasteful that he has used public money to make his defence. He merely debases political life - and that takes some doing at present.

  2. I agree with your conclusion, Stuart, although I still feel sorry for him. The public revelations of the tensions within his family, and particularly with his son, must be extremely painful, and for the son too.

    It is difficult to know how to describe the initial offence: certainly not trivial, as driving at excess speed can kill, but certainly not uncommon. Very few of we motorists can claim that we have never exceeded a speed limit, and most of us have been caught, fined and given points. It is however, the lying about it over a long period of time, and particularly so brazenly over the past year, which is so demeaning.

    I think it is unfair, however, for you to over-egg the pudding. I know of no evidence, or even accusations, that he gained his money be cheating. If you have, I'm sure you'll let us know, though beware of libel. Neither am I aware that he is using or has used public money for his defence, though I agree that, in the circumstances, he hardly deserves severance pay of £17 000.