Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Talents of Chris Huhne

Man leaves wife for mistress. Happens every day to ordinary people all over the country. It's regrettable, but all part of life's mysterious pattern. And yet if it involves a politician, it makes the front pages of the Sunday newspapers. Even now.

Yes, I feel sorry for Mrs Huhne, but her husband is not a politician who has eulogised the institution of marriage or made speeches about it. The only hypocrisy he is guilty of relates to deceiving his wife.

Suggestions that he ought to lose his job are misplaced. The breakup of his marriage does not mean he is any less capable a Cabinet Minister than he was when he was appointed five weeks ago.

While I was driving to Salisbury last evening I got a call from the Mail on Sunday asking if I could write a quick commentary column on this. As I was driving, and had to get to the theatre for my show with La Widdecombe, I declined. I spent the rest of the journey musing over what I would have written. Suffice to say that it would have been rather friendlier to Chris Huhne than the column which appears in today's Mail on Sunday by James Forsyth!

James says that the LibDem members of the Cabinet were not properly vetted. This implies that he thinks someone having an affair should never have been appointed in the first place. Rubbish. The rest of the piece is one attack after another on Huhne. He's called "a busted flush", "a man with a high opinion of himself" and James thinks his "star is on the wane".

I think he exaggerates. Huhne is far from a busted flush and if anything happened to Nick Clegg he would still be a good bet to succeed him. I'm sure he does have a high opinion of himself - so do most politicians. I'm not sure I want people in politics who have low opinions of themselves! I had a chat with him earlier in the week and he was clearly revelling in the job and also enjoying working with Conservatives. Slightly to his surprise, he had found it very easy to work with people from another party. He pointed out that they were all on the same learning curve.

There are many LibDems I don't respect. Chris Huhne is not one of them. He is personable, highly intelligent and a man of clear views. I may not agree with many of them, but he is certainly one of the most talented LibDems in the Commons.

His affair doesn't change that.

56 comments:

Don said...

It is very modern to believe that sexual infidelity is of minor concern, but someone who cannot keep faith with his or her partner may be equally unreliable when entrusted with the affairs of state.

Caron said...

I think that's a fair assessment. None of us are in a position to judge what goes on in anyone else's personal life, and politicians are human beings as much as the rest of us.

I just think it's appalling that the gutter press think that this stuff is newsworthy.

I think I'd prefer that you had written that column. I wonder if the Fail would have printed it if you had, though.

Anoneumouse said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkNQtsj_Fr4&feature=player_embedded

The Lakelander said...

"but he is certainly one of the most talented LibDems in the Commons"

Now that's what I call damning with faint praise!

Roger Thornhill said...

There are plenty of reasons to remove Chris Huhne, but this is probably not one of them.

Tim Footman said...

Some of the comments attached to the Mail story are really pretty squalid, especially those referring to the looks of the "other woman". Vile even by Mail standards.

Autonomous Mind said...

"The breakup of his marriage does not mean he is any less capable a Cabinet Minister than he was when he was appointed five weeks ago."

No. It just means he is less trustworthy and reliable than he appeared when he was appointed five weeks ago. We do not need proven liars in government.

Really Iain, have you got so close to those in the political bubble it's become impossible for you to be critical of obviously unacceptable behaviours and character flaws?

Iain, you are fast becoming the go-to guy for mitigating blog posts about politicians who break the rules or demonstrate through their character that they're unsuitable for office. I thought you were better than that.

Anoneumouse said...

Europhile disposes his Greek assets.

Compromise...it's all very coalition don't you know.

A bit of a calamity but hey he's not Clegg

Little Black Sambo said...

The only hypocrisy he is guilty of relates to deceiving his wife.

Oh, is that all?

gordon-bennett said...

Wise up, Iain.

Have a look at Guido's take which exposes how ch has exploited his family contrary to what you wrote.

Witterings From Witney said...

Iain,

I understand your views and can agree that Huhne's private life is not of concern to the general public - with the proviso that there has been no misappropriation of public money involved.*

However, I can side with the view of Don who makes the point that practising a deceit with ones wife tends to lead one to believe that deceit can be practised elsewhere, namely the country.

I also believe that, if the story is true that this liaison has been going on since 2009 then Huhne has a question or two to answer about his website proclaiming 'family life'.

He is unfortunately not alone in this regard - on 'family life' - as your MP Caroline Nokes demonstrates.

Politicians have to be seen to be 'whiter than white' so any 'skeletons' should be disclosed straight away or they must suffer the consequences.

*Which begs the question whether use of publicly funded accommodation for extra-marital activities comes within the realms of accommodation necessary to fulfill one parliamentary duties?

John R said...

Cutting through the verbiage, one question:

If even his wife can't trust him, why should the rest of us?

The Purpleline said...

Iain- I suspect this piece of misjudgement goes hand in hand with your over the top support for Laws.

Fact: An d this maybe a reason you do not make the final selection.

Huhne stood on a family guy ticket, using photo's and 26-years of marriage to get support from voters in Eastleigh. >see guido<

He lied to his wife, he lied to his constituents. How can we not assume he will not lie about Energy related matters.

There should be a call for him to stand down as a Minister and a call to his local party and to the voters of Eastleigh if they would like to recall him.

Until we make Politics clean on every measure we will continue to be led by Donkeys.

The only reason his marriage ended was because he was caught. It was announced to save his political skin. What is the only difference between now and April? IS she pregnant forcing a change in their relationship dynamics? The answer is I'm afraid saving his political career. Surely you can see that Iain.

Cameron needs to get to grips on LibDem ministers he should make a speech calling for an amnesty for past indiscretions each and every minister in the coalition must come forward with anything in their cupboards. This will save time and put a clear line under the expenses question posed by the Telegraph, come clean and draw a red line and say we move on as a new parliament and coalition government.

Honesty is the best policy.

Salmondnet said...

Is there a public interest in this. Well yes, it explains why he needs so many houses.

The Grim Reaper said...

The Talents of Chris Huhne? Erm...

















































No, can't think of any.

James said...

"The only hypocrisy he is guilty of relates to deceiving his wife".

So say you.

Guido reckons he plastered his 'decent, upstanding family man' credentials all over his election material.

I'd say he was fraudulently inducing peoples' vote.

He was in a tight marginal too.

What's happened to you Dale? First you stridently defend David Laws pilfering £40k of tax-payer's money by saying he was worried about his sexuality being exposed; now you say Huhne is just another bloke who cheats on his wife.

You are either thick or just as disingenuous as the politicians.

If you are thick, listen - if Laws did not want his sexuality exposed, then he didn't have to make a claim for the money.

If you are disingenuous then you can foxtrot oscar.

john in cheshire said...

Iain, your equanimity towards the enemies of this country is getting slightly tedious.
Oh, and forgive me, it is not intended to be ad hominem (this term seems to be fashionable these days - seems commenters have been reading the dictionary) but your blog is tending to be self-publicist, solipsism. Sorry, I'm criticising again, aren't I.

Iain Dale said...

James, no, it is you who can FO - and collect your refund on the way out.

I write it as I see it. I don't write to curry favour with those like you who would like to lynch any politician for the slightest misdeed. Politicians are fallbile, just as anyone else is.

Manfarang said...

Don
Back to Basics?

Ed said...

Don,
He may be unreliable but he may be totally reliable as a minister. You don't know (nobody can) so what is the point you're trying to make?
I'm not aware of lack of fidelity by Brown and Blair and look how they lied and spun us into Cary Street.

Robert said...

Labour adultery bad, Coalition adultery good.

He's still a shit and Laws is still a thief.

Looks pretty much like the same old politics as usual.

Libertarian said...

Iain

You are totally wrong on this.

Huhne used pictures of his wife and family, eulogised about family support and the tremendous support his wife had given him in his election address and material leading up to the GE.

This quite clearly shows to me that he is unfit in terms of honesty, loyalty or judgement to be a government minister.

Born out by the fact that he has continued to show a shocking lack of fidelity in spending and subsidies for carbon scamming projects

Woman on a Raft said...

The only hypocrisy he is guilty of relates to deceiving his wife.

So that's alright, then. She's only a woman, and it doesn't count if you lie to one of those in order to secure their support, cooperation, time, money....

Not deception at all, hardly.

Kevin said...

well as far as chris huhne not playing up the family angle in his political life -

may i refer my hon friends to guido's latest posting -

where chris huhne's election handout is featured - it includes pictures of him and his family/children with messages about how important family is to him and how wonderful being married for 26 years is -

that about 2 months before he dumped his wife -

and you have respect iain for a guy with that kind of duplicity ?

afraid i dont share your respect

Cynic said...

Iain

Its deeper than that. The NoW seem to have tailed him to his constituency where he and his mistress has a pleasant evening tryst. Next morning he was to have held a surgery but cancelled it - too tired perhaps? - and took a train straight back to London

Now who paid for the expenses for his night of fun?

I don't care who he's playing with - I just don't want to pay for it

James said...

Fair play for publishing my comment.

I still remain concerned about your thinking.

Getting rid of Labour was chiefly - in my book anyway - about ridding British politics of instances such as these.............i.e. about instilling more integrity in the politicos and thereby more confidence in the voters and tax-payers.

£40k is a lot of money to the ordinary Brit - especially when HMRC makes damn sure the ordinary Brit has to abide by the rules.

Likewise, if I represent myself as something I am not in order to get a job I could be charged with 'obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception'.

I suggest you get off the temperamental thoroughbred and ride home on the bicycle of sanity.

The Grim Reaper said...

Iain, haven't some of these people got a point here? In fairness, you have been defending some pretty dodgy stuff on the blog recently. The David Laws stuff, for instance. You may sympathise with the way his sexuality was revealed to everyone in such a way, but there's no other way of looking it - he took thousands of pounds of taxpayers money that he wasn't entitled to. And you didn't say a word in protest.

This is quite strange, as you've condemned people who have affairs before on the blog. Example? Take one of your own MPs, James Gray. He dumped his wife whilst she was recovering from cancer. You called him a "class one copper bottomed shit" and how right you were. But I don't see you calling Huhne that.

Is David Huhne a personal friend of yours? If not, I'm struggling to see why you're being so sycophantic.

Alex said...

Is somebody putting something in the water of the Hampshire chalk streams? First it was Nokes in Romsey (Test), then it was Huhne in Eastleigh (Itchen). Somebody shold keep an eye on Sir George Young and Steve Brine in Winchester.

Joe Public said...

The trouble is Iain, us voters really despise being told how to run our lives by hypocritical and/or troughing politicians.

golden_balls said...

When its a financial indiscretion iain believes they shouldn't resign. When its a sexual
indiscretion they shouldn't resign. How forgiving this blog has become since the election.

If he hadn't made such a play regarding his family then i might agree its a personal issue. He's a cheat and a liar he'll go far in this government.

Roll on the next scandal hopefully it'll be a Tory i'm starting to think the conseratives are leaking these stories to make them look good.

Iain Dale said...

Oh, sigh. Grim Reaper, I had probably exchanged about 10 words with David Laws. Yes, I know Chris Huhne, but so what? The comparison with Gray is misplaced - as far as I know Huhne's wife has no medical condition.

And just because I think he has talents does not mean I am being sycophantic.

James said...

Talent - but no integrity.

Hmmm who does that remind one of?

Step forward Lord Peter Mandelson.

Do you advocate going back to those days?

No. Cameron has to ask for Huhne's resignation. Laws may come back - by all accounts he's good (probably he hasn't even gone away). Cameron stated that constituencies would have the power to recall errant MPs.........well, this is a proof/pudding moment.

I wouldn't bet on him retaining his seat.

p.s.

Well done NZ!

neilmack said...

Where have all these peevish chip-on-shoulder crackpots come from?

It's a fact of modern life that enormous numbers of marriages end in divorce - see http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/relationships/article3635729.ece It would be rather surprising if our politicians didn't reflect general social trends. It's Mr Huhne's policies and ministerial capacity that is of public concern - his marriage is nobody else's bloody business.

The nasty piffle in the comments about David Ruffley speaks volumes about the decline in standards of morality in this country (and I'm not talking about dick control). We used to extend each other the courtesy of a fair hearing and attempt to understand the other guy's standpoint. Now accusation, any accusation, is enough, and no objective analysis of the facts is permitted, no "not guilty" verdict possible. Paedophiles get a fairer hearing than politicians.

A number of notably ill-informed numbskulls have dragged up their tired old rubbish about David Laws again. I'm not sure what bearing his matter has on Chris Huhne, but they also need to be put right. Laws claimed a conscionable amount of money to cover the mortgage costs on one of his two residences, both of which were mortgaged. The rules permitted him to do so. The only issue is that he represented the claim as 'rent', thereby avoiding disclosing the full details of his domestic arrangements. He didn't steal or defraud any money from anyone. On that basis the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards will either give him a perfunctory slap on the wrist for the technical non-compliance, or exonerate him completely. Will these planks apologise and shut up?

I doubt it.

seniorspeaks said...

Not only has Chris Huhne been dishonest to his wife, but he deliberately concealed this affair from his constituents. The Liberal Democrats portrayed themselves as being cleaner than Labour and the Conservatives, while Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne was having an affair.

Chi said...

What a bunch of sanctimonious windbags you people are.

The UK population needs to grow up. The President of France is having an affair, and so is his wife: big deal. It's what is commonly referred to as a private matter. It is of zero relevance to his role as President. Sarko may be flawed in other respects, but the fact that he's having an affair is entirely his own business. And you know something? The vast majority of French people feel that way, too.

Over here in this country we feel it is our business to know when politicians are bed-hopping. It isn't. And as for the po-faced argument that "if he can lie to his wife he can lie to us", what a load of guff. Is it going to be a national news story when a politician thanks his aunt for that lovely pair of socks at Christmas which, shock horror, he actually hates? The liar! The people must be told! Are we going to have front page news spreads every time a politician eats a plate of local produce and thanks his hosts for a wonderful meal before admitting to his aide that it tasted vile? What a liar, what a crook!

Lies are part of being human. Politicians tell them and so does everyone else. Until or unless those lies actually have some kind of impact on policy or good governance, I frankly couldn't give a damn. Nobody's perfect, and if we expect our politicians to be so, we're going to be sadly disappointed.

Grow up and pay attention to issues that really matter. This is a complete non-story.

Future History of England said...

http://order-order.com/2010/06/19/huhne-april-to-june/

Chris says one thing, and does another. Its politics in general.

Whats wrong with expecting those who tell you to do one thing, actually doing it themselves?

David said...

Huhne should be sacked because of his advocacy of the absurd global warming myth.

neilmack said...

Divorce stats - got truncated last time :

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/relationships/article3635729.ece

Colin said...

Future History of England: remind me where and when Chris Huhne told us all not to have extra-marital affairs? I must have missed that particular policy proposal.

Simon Gardner said...

@John R said...
“Cutting through the verbiage, one question:

If even his wife can't trust him, why should the rest of us?”


Cutting through the verbiage. It you apply those sorts of standards, there will be nobody qualified to run the country.

HampsteadOwl said...

Iain

I am really struggling to understand you apparent view that James Gray was a copper-bottomed s**t because his wife had cancer when he left her, but Huhne's betrayal is no big deal because "as far as I know [his] wife has no medical condition".

On that basis can I ask how sick a woman has to be in your view before her husband deserting her for his mistress becomes reprehensible? Nosebleed? Diabetes? Left leg amputated below the knee?

Also, if you really thought this was a non-story you would have turned the MoS down for that reason, not because you were too busy to write the article.

Jabba the Cat said...

For all those trying to minimise Huhne's behaviour as merely relevant to his wife and mistress, overlook, or choose to ignore, that at the centre of this episode is deceit exercised by Huhne, which in my mind goes to the core of his character and does not portray him well.

Peter said...

I honestly don't care what Huhne does in his private life.
What is important is that the government gets on and sorts out this bloody mess left by Brown.
We have already lost one good minister in ridiculous circumstances lets not loose another.

no longer anonymous said...

"What a bunch of sanctimonious windbags you people are."

Sorry but even those of us who are not Christian can understand the importance of "thou shalt not commit adultery".

As far as I'm aware most people do not cheat on their spouses and such behaviour is understandably frowned upon due to the pain it causes.

Lord Blagger said...

If you lie and decieve your wife, what hope for the poor tax payer funding his expensive living.

Nick

Dave said...

He's about par for the course as far as most voters are concerned.
Politicians?
They lie.
It's what they do.

I bet he won't be supporting any plans to push through a law giving the electorate the right to recall their MP. (Neither, I expect will the member for Kirkaldy, who is drawing an MP's wage while writing his memoirs, and hasn't been seen in Westminster since the election.

I won't be sorry to see Huhne go if he is forced out of the Government. Maybe we'll get a minister who is a bit more realistic about our future energy needs. At the moment our only hope in keeping warm beyond 2020 is to stand in front of these bloody windmills flapping our arms and blowing like crazy in an effort to get them to turn.

tapestry said...

On the one hand Dale is right. But why did Huhne present himself as a paragon of married virtue at election time, when he already knew his marriage was past its sell by date? That is not deceiving his wife. That's deceiving his voters. And in rather a crass way. His great intelligence (alleged) obviously doesn't extend to realising that such deception is likely to undermine his credibility.

We spent 15 years hearing how intelligent Gordon Brown was. Is Chris Huhne to be the next version of 'highly intelligent politician'?

I see.

Barbara Martin said...

There are lies and 'lies'. Politicians, and most other people, routinely tell 'lies' because often they are necessary. But lies, especially to one's spouse about fidelity are in a category of their own. What has he been telling her for the past 2 years, during which he did indeed eulogise the institution of marriage? Of course marriages fail but these sort of failures seem to say 'I'll stick with you until I meet someone better'. For a man to behave like this to his wife and family, for let us not forget his children, shows a degree of underhandedness and lack of moral judgement that I do not wish to see in anyone. I've never met the man and hope never to do so because I might just tell him what I think of him. Oh, I forgot, he's a politician, that's a different moral planet isn't it so my opinion wouldn't matter?

Libertarian said...

@Simon Gardiner

"Cutting through the verbiage. It you apply those sorts of standards, there will be nobody qualified to run the country."

That would fully explain the mess we are in then, as none of the last lot where qualified to run anything as they so dramatically proved.



Maybe the answer is that there are just far far far too many people trying to run the country without the necessary qualifications, which are:

Common sense, honesty, trust, transparency, leadership and listening skills

LEE said...

Iain take a step back from the Westminster village and see Huhne for what he is, namely a sanctimonious pontificating lying fornicating hypocrite whose lying over his affair helped him to hold on to his seat.Is there really such a dearth of talent that people like this are in the government?I think he makes Bill Clinton's behaviour look quite mild.

Johnny Norfolk said...

The passive acceptance of behavour like this is what has led this country into the mess we are in. I do not want to be led by double dealing untrustworthy peope with no morals or ethics.This would be the perfect chance to have a by election and let his voters decide.

Rebel Saint said...

Talent is not in short demand, character and integrity is.

georgek said...

@no longer anonymous
"Sorry but even those of us who are not Christian can understand the importance of "thou shalt not commit adultery"."

Jesus gave strict teaching on adultery, but his strongest attacks were on those who were judgemental.

I think even those who are not Christians can understand: "judge not that you be not judged."

Jimmy said...

It's not as if he was a member of a government which boasts it can promote the institution of marriage by bunging Joe Public far smaller sums then come with Huhne's promotion.

Libertarian said...

To all saying it's a private matter

I take it you weren't one's who screamed for John Terry the England captain to be sacked for allegedly ( both parties deny it happened, no evidence offered) having an affair.

Or are we saying that being captain of the England football team is far more important a job than being a secretary of state.


Double standards as always. Isn't it strange that footballers are portrayed as being, thick, selfish venal people, but they get sacked for misdemeanour's whereas the people that run the country can lie, cheat, steel and commit adultery with impunity .

pedro the lion said...

As Guido points out Huhne campaigned as a family man - his leaflet said 'family matters so much. Where would we be without them?' with accompanying photos. Huhne didn't just deceive his wife AND kids but everyone in his constituency. If he can lie to those closest to him, then why not the rest of us? At a time when political trust is so low, this is obviously extremely relevant. I'm surprised you don't get it Iain.