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Saturday 4 September 2010

The Cabinet Minister, His Aide And The Media.

I came home from holiday on Tuesday and stumbled into the back end of a "news" story about the British Foreign Secretary and one of his aides.
I can't pretend to know the full details of this story, which apparently started on the Internet and then found it's way into the national newspapers. But, it seems to centre around the fact that the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, had shared a twin bedded room with his male aide, during the general election campaign earlier this year.
The aide, who is considerably younger than William Hague, has since resigned from his position.

Now, for anyone not familiar with this news item, you might be forgiven for thinking "where's the story here and why has the aide resigned?"

Well, the "story", such as it is, is that William Hague has been married for a number of years now and still doesn't have any children. And we all know what that must mean don't we, boys and girls?

The insinuation is that if you've been married for many, childless, years and you share a bedroom with a young male colleague, well then you must be.... gay. Shock, horror!

These insinuations and rumours circulated so much that William Hague felt that he needed to issue a statement denying that he was gay, or had ever had a relationship with a man.
Worse than that, in my eyes anyway, he felt compelled to tell the world exactly why he and his wife had not yet had any children.
His wife has apparently suffered a number of miscarraiges during their marraige. The latest one being earlier this year, i believe.

I'm sure that i'm not alone in feeling a great deal of sympathy for Mr Hague and his wife, for feeling that he had to divulge this, very personal, information. I'm also a little dumbstruck as to why he felt that he needed to say as much as he did.
After all, do we really need to know such personal details?

I guess this raises a number of issues?

The first, for me, is the way that the press will often put two and two together and make several hundred. And all in the "interests" of column inches and increased sales.

A supposed sex scandal, involving a cabinet minister, will always attract attention and lead to a rise in the sales of your newspaper. The poor victim of the story then has to defend themselves, even if there is no real evidence of any wrong doing in the first place.
If they do not say anything, they are then presumed as "gulity" and if they do say something, that can just help the story to rumble on and on.
It seems a little ironic to me that since Mr Hague's very personal statement, the story seems to have died a death and has been quietly forgotten by the very media that created it in the first place.
It's a pity that Mr Hague doesn't feel that he can persue these false accusations in the courts. But, being a current cabinet minister probably stops him from feeling that he can do that.

Secondly. I find it rather unsettling that there is still a real preoccupation with whether certain people are gay, or not. I thought we'd moved on from those bad old days where people felt that they needed to, or had to, hide their sexuality?
The media's, especially the press', willingness to endlessly persue any supposed story with a gay angle, is something that i find hard to take. Being gay is not a crime anymore and the press and media need to wake up and fully realise that fact.
I'm sure that if these accusations had concerned a female employee, the handling of the story would have been completely different. The general tone would have been along the lines of "well done mate, get in there".

I happened to mention in a Tweet this morning, that maybe William Hague was actually trying to save the country and us taxpayers some money, by sharing a room with a colleague? And when you consider the amount of column inches devoted to the MP's expenses scandal, earlier this year, you can see why he may have felt that way. MP's have probably become rather paranoid about spending any public money on themselves.
Even if this is not the explanation for his actions that night, maybe it should become government policy, wherever possible? After all, i'm sure not everyone really needs a single room?

During the ensuing Twitter conversation that i had about this subject. I happened to mention that i had shared a room with many men over the years and have even shared a room with a gay man before. Now, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever accused me of being gay. So, why should this happen to an MP?

If the press and the media generally are going to make these insinuations about a persons sexuality anytime something like this happens. Is it any wonder that ordinary citizens may not wish to become MP's in the first place?

Just think of the many talented, potential MP's we could be losing because of this antiquated attitude of the media. We need the right people to run this country for us and we need to make sure that those people are able to do their job without, improper, interference.

Many spy scandals in the past have been caused, at least partially, because of a persons sexuality and the problems that may be caused if that persons sexuality was revealed.
As i said before, being gay is not now against the law. But, you wouldn't know that sometimes.

Surely the safety, security, economy and future of this country is more important than a persons sexuality?
If it isn't, then maybe i should just close the door on my way out?


  1. Of course, had he and the aide each taken separate rooms on that trip, the news would have been about how he had squandered public funds paying for a luxury junket instead of doubling up like any civilian would have on such a trip.

    And, I believe, I may have shared a hotel room or two with you in the past... What will people say?!

  2. Keep quiet Ken, or else they'll all start talking about us as well. Grown men sharing a room together, whatever next? ;)