Monday, June 14, 2010


Skeletons in Political Cupboards-or Not

I'm just reading Alastair Campbell's Prelude to Power Diaries 1994-97. I was struck by Campbell's question to Blair 13th May, 1994 in the wake of John Smith's tragic death, when attention had finally begun to shift towards who would take over as leader. Blair had been bombarded with phone calls all day urging him to stand and he was now actively considering the possibility.

'I asked him if he had any skeletons in his cupboard- women, drugs, that kind of thing- and he said no.'

We know now that he was probably telling the truth and that whatever one thinks about his moral decisions over going to war so often and so unwisely, he has almost certainly been a loving and faithful husband. Think back to other future prime ministers. Attlee and Churchill were both scrupulously faithful and it's hard to conceive of the former being anything else; the latter could easily have been as his father and especially mother were, many time sover and in a more censorious moral climate to boot. Eden might have stored the odd bone or two in his closet, being a famously handsome ladies man.

Macmillan was personally faithful but the fact his wife had for years been having an affair with a bisexual Tory MP, Bob Bootby, would not have allowed hjim to become PM had he lived in the era of the modern media. Wilson might have had dealings of an amorous nature with Marcia Williams- it's hard to say from the delphic comments in memoirs by the likes of Joe Haines and others. Heath seemed not to have any sexual urges at all; Callaghan was totally faithful I feel sure; Thatcher too, was probably faithful to good old Dennis though she had her flirtations and knew how to deloy her sexual charms when dealing with all those middle-ged Tory men.

The key skeleton harbourer of course, and the least likely, was John Major. He it was who had a four year and exceedingly steamy affair with Edwina Currie. Gordon Brown I would say had insufficient charm to make it with anyone other than his very nice wife, nor would he have wished to anyway I'd guess, though Tom Bower's biography paints a picture of a brooding, quite sexually charged younger Gordon who might prove me wrong once history has had a good look at him. Blair does surprise me a little. After all, he idolised Mick Jagger, was in a rock band at Oxford called Ugly Rumours, was handsome and very attractive to women. Maybe he was closely policed by the proprietorial Cherie but, I am a little disappointed to say, I think he was more priest manque than potential philanderer.

And Dave Cameron? Well, he probably snorted a few Bullingdonian drugs and maybe had the odd unwise dalliance but so far, nobody has broken Tory ranks to suggest he is anything less than pure as driven snow. God, I'd love him to have ravished Virginia Bottomley or Julie Kirkbride, or just... been sufficiently wild and irresponsible tom produce the odd rattle somewhere inside his boring sanitised upper middle-class cupboards within!

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