Scandal

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Spectator Editor and former Tory Shadow Minister for the Arts, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson MP (pictured above with unnamed friends), provided the Oz blogosphere with some light entertainment recently with a juicy sex scandal, in the finest traditions of British politics.

Now, in a bipartisan gesture, Home Secretary David Plunkett’s in trouble, over the ramifications of his affair with, wait for it, the publisher of the Spectator (working there is obviously more fun than reading the magazine…).

Writing in The Age, Peter Fry speculates that the return of the sleaze that mired the dying days of John Major’s government is a sign that Tony Blair’s New Labour is on its last legs. More important than the titillating aspects of the revelations about Blunkett, he argues, are the questions raised over the perception that ministers are happy to dish out favours to select citizens. One result of the Australian election was that a raft of commentators proclaimed that the great Aussie voter was disinterested in questions of accountability. Does the media coverage of these seemingly sordid and saucy shenanigans in the UK show that the Westminster system is actually in a healthier state in its home country than Downunder where the rule of “private lives are off limits” seems pretty much entrenched?

ELSEWHERE: The New York Times explains why British sex scandals get more coverage, even though politicians in other countries possibly also have sex occasionally.

Courtesy of Andrew Norton at Catallaxy, I’ve now learned that Boris has inspired some poetry.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

I don’t think it’s fair to say that private lives of politicians are off limits in Australia. To name a few incidents I can recall off the top of my head: PK and his failure to lodge tax returns three years running; Peter Reith and mobile phones; Bob Hawke and a heroin addict in the family; the Paddington Bear affair. Far from being off limits, the private lives of our politicians have been staple fare for our journos. Some (indeed many) of these intrusions are justifiable on the grounds that the incidents in the pollies private lives either impinged directly on their responsibilities or where relevant to the public assessment of their capacity to carry out their job.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks for that, Alex. I was more thinking of discussion of pollies’ intimate relationships.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

We do the exercise of the credit card, but not the genitals. Customs mistakes but not concubiscience. Paddington Bear but not Perdita bared.. and so on.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

OK, Mark, how about Gareth and Cheryl? Or Bartlett and booze?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Well, the Gareth and Cheryl thing certainly added nothing to the question of accountability. Even those who argue that it was in the public interest to know that their relationship was a factor in her joining the ALP, can’t I think really make out this case convincingly. I think Oakes really crossed a line on that one.

From recollection, I think we had a chat about this here:

http://troppoarmadillo.ubersportingpundit.com/archives/007739.html

As to Andrew Bartlett, that doesn’t seem to fall into the category of “intimate relationships”. There’s no way that his pushing Senator Ferris on camera in the Senate could not have made the papers. It does seem from what one read afterwards, that his drinking affected his public role. I have no doubt though that’s true of other MPs as well, but we don’t read about it. Bartlett was his own undoing in this case.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

But poking politicians are very prone to using executive power to favour the pokee; as appears to be the case in Blunkett’s case. Or consider Trish Draper at home.

Should the public have a right to know that an MP is a sleazeball? I think the private lives of MP’s are fair game given the power that they hold over us. It is curious that we’ve not had any coverage of Liberal party shenanigans, save Ross Cameron’s pecadillo, surely there must be more.