So on the flimsiest of evidence a young man loses his job and the Foreign Secretary and his wife are forced to issue the most personal of statements, detailing miscarriages and a declaration on the state of their marriage.
What have we come to?
For the record, here is William Hague's statement...
“I feel it is necessary to issue this personal statement in response to pressThis statement leaves no wriggle room. Look at the last sentence. Hague is not gay. Get it? Some of us never thought he was.
and internet speculation over the last ten days. Earlier this year a Sunday
newspaper began questioning whether my marriage to Ffion was in trouble, and
last week another media outlet asked whether there was a statement about our
supposed separation. This seemed to be linked to equally untrue speculation
surrounding the appointment of Christopher Myers as a Special Adviser.
Christopher Myers has demonstrated commitment and political talent over the last
eighteen months. He is easily qualified for the job he holds. Any suggestion
that his appointment was due to an improper relationship between us is utterly
false, as is any suggestion that I have ever been involved in a relationship
with any man.
This speculation seems to stem from the fact that whilst campaigning before the election we occasionally shared twin hotel rooms. Neither of us would have done so if we had thought that it in any way meant or implied something else. In hindsight I should have given greater consideration to what might have been made of that, but this is in itself no justification for allegations of this kind, which are untrue and deeply distressing to me, to Ffion and to Christopher.
He has now told me that, as a result of the pressure on his family from the untrue and malicious allegations made about him, he does not wish to continue in his position. It is a pity that a talented individual should feel that he needs to leave his job in this way. Ffion and I believe that everyone has a right to a private life.
However, we now feel it necessary to give some background to our marriage because we have had enough of this continued and hurtful speculation about us. I have made no secret of the fact that Ffion and I would love to start a family. For many years this has been our goal. Sadly this has proved more difficult for us than for most couples. We have encountered many difficulties and suffered multiple miscarriages, and indeed are still grieving for the loss of a pregnancy this summer. We are aware that the stress of infertility can often strain a marriage, but in our case, thankfully, it has only brought us closer together.
It has been an immensely traumatic and painful experience but our marriage is
strong and we will face whatever the future brings together. Several years ago
one Sunday paper reported that Ffion was three months pregnant, without ever
checking the story with us. This made even more difficult the fact that we had
only just experienced another disappointment. We have never made this
information public because of the distress it would cause to our families and
would not do so now were it not for the untrue rumours circulating which
repeatedly call our marriage into question. We wish everyone to know that we are
very happily married.
It is very regrettable to have to make this personal statement, but we have often said to each other ‘if only they knew the truth…’ Well, this is the straightforward truth. I will not be making any further comment on these matters.”
There are several consequences to this. The main one is that Christopher Myers has lost his job. The poor guy clearly felt unable to cope with the media maelstrom and decided to quit both for his own sanity and the sake of the Foreign Secretary's career. It's never good when an adviser becomes the story. I hope he recovers from this ghastly experience quickly and finds a good job soon.
The other main consequence is for those of us who have at least in part made our names through blogging. I remember my part in the John Prescott scandal and after that I decided that was not something I was comfortable in repeating. Since then I have tried (but admittedly not always succeeded) not to descend into the gutter. Would I have defended a Labour politican against such an onslaught? For those who doubt it, they forget (probably conveniently) that I spoke out against the bloggers who accused Gordon Brown of having mental problems. I freely admit that I don't get it right all the time, but when I get it wrong big time I try to hold my hands up and apologise. I hope that happens in this case. The fact that Guido Fawkes has printed the Hague statement with no added comment indicates a growing realisation (I hope) that he called this one wrong.
I am afraid that all of us who blog have been sullied by this experience, even though only one blog was making the insinuations. I said on Radio 4's PM that there was part of me tonight that is ashamed to call myself a political blogger this evening, and I meant it. That may sound a bit holier than thou, but it is how I feel.
I hope Mr Fawkes can look himself in the mirror tonight. Because I sure as hell couldn't.