Low expectations

low expectations

Image: Melinda Nagy/Shutterstock

WELL it’s safe to say it hasn’t been a good week for the Conservatives.

Between Rishi’s fixed penalty notice for not wearing a seatbelt, Boris’s £800,000 loan controversy, and Zahawi’s seven-figure tax payback, the Tories are not currently having the best time of things.

Two of these controversies are now subject to reviews, while Rishi has accepted fault in the seatbelt incident.

While this certainly doesn’t look like a great time for politics, as one columnist recently pointed out these scandals are somewhat tame compared to some of the UK’s historic political controversies.

Let’s start with possibly the most shocking, the Thorpe Affair. It’s hard to contemplate now the idea that the leader of a major political party might end up being tried for murder, but in 1979 that’s exactly what happened in the case of Liberal Party leader, Jeremy Thorpe.

While he was eventually acquitted, the stain of being accused of attempting to have his former lover killed was- fairly understandably- enough to end his career.

After that, the faked death of former Labour MP John Stonehouse has also got to be up there in terms of political scandal. Quite incredibly, Stonehouse lived in Australia under an assumed name for six weeks after faking his drowning in Miami before being caught. Of all things, he was eventually brought in by police who initially suspected him of being Lord Lucan in a spectacular piece of bad timing for Stonehouse.

And who could forget the Profumo affair, in which War Secretary John Profumo managed to have an affair with a woman- Christine Keeler- who was simultaneously having it off with a Soviet spy.

Compared to murder and the spilling of state secrets, the seatbelt issue at least seems pretty tame.

Why is it that politicians seem to attract so many scandals though? Maybe it’s the old adage about power corrupting. Or maybe it’s just that at the end of it all it turns that politicians are just normal human beings, with the same temptations, flaws and foibles as everyone else. The difference here perhaps is simply that the stakes are so much higher.

Any wayward politicos might be well-served to remember that.

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