Rod Liddle

If Damian Green lied I don’t blame him

The berserk climate in which we live now leaves anyone facing this sort of charge no option

If Damian Green lied I don’t blame him
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I first viewed pornography at the age of 12, when a school friend showed me a magazine called, I think, Razzle. The centrefold was a naked lady with what appeared to be a large and potentially ferocious rodent between her legs — a coypu, perhaps, or a capybara. I had never seen anything like that before. ‘Look at that flunge!’ my friend enthused. I had never heard the word before, either — I think it was a kind of portmanteau of ‘clunge’ and ‘flange’, both words with which I was familiar. ‘I bet your gimmer hasn’t got one like that,’ he added, spitefully. Gimmer is rural Teesside slang for a girlfriend — derived, I think, from the Scottish word for a young female sheep.

I had a sort of girlfriend at the time and I fervently hoped she didn’t have a snarling coypu up her skirt, or, if she did, then would be minded to keep it to herself. The porno-graphy left me a bit cold, and thus worried me briefly that maybe I was gay, as my friend would not have put it. I thought the photograph hideous and rather menacing. I feel the same about porn today — the stuff I’ve seen, out of curiosity or by chance — a roommate had a stash of what he called ‘tug mags’ which he left lying around the house — seems to me every bit as vile and degrading as the feminists insist. There is malice and subjugation in it, a coarseness and a cheapness, and you get the feeling, too, that it is more about power and violence than sex. Given the vices I do have, it is rather gratifying to take, on this occasion, the moral high ground. But each to their own, I suppose.

The roommate I mentioned earlier would sometimes lock his door and when I tried to come in would shout: ‘Go away. I’m having a mastodon. I’ll be done in three minutes.’ He always called it ‘a mastodon’. He was otherwise a delightful companion. And so I do wonder if the moral high ground I occupy hasn’t been gained by principle and volition, but through a quirk of nature: I am one of the very few men who doesn’t enjoy porn, a weirdo. Because everyone else is up to it — porn is easily the most widely accessed material on the internet. It wouldn’t surprise me if most of the General Synod were regularly accessing sites called Haitian Dog Witch and vigorously bashing the bishop.

I don’t know what sites Damian Green accessed, although some sneaky ex-rozzer has suggested it was ‘extreme’ porn — perhaps Diane Abbott in chain mail brandishing a tub of lube. Green denies having visited any porno sites on his computer (nearly ten years ago!) and I suppose he could be telling the truth — but I don’t believe him. I think the berserk climate in which we live leaves anyone in public office facing this sort of charge no option but to obfuscate, prevaricate — in short, to lie. I don’t blame him one bit. There is not the slightest suggestion that he did anything illegal. It is none of the police’s business and none of the business of the whips’ office or, indeed, ours. If we are going to remove from public office everyone who has looked at pornography in their lives, we’ll be left under the sole charge of Baroness Ashton and Tim Farron (oh, and maybe me, ha ha).

What is happening to Green is a disgrace. He was under investigation for having been pleasant to a young Tory woman, Kate Maltby, whom he might — and might not, she can’t be clear — have touched fleetingly on the knee. Get out of here, Maltby, with your pathetic #metoo whining: learn what sexual harassment is really about by talking to some women who have actually experienced it. And have some spine, you Tories. The coppers who released this information about Green should be prosecuted under the data protection act immediately. It is an outrageous invasion of privacy and deeply, needlessly cruel to both Damian Green and his family.

How did the Conservative party get itself into the position that it could sacrifice one of its more able politicians on the say-so of some toff airhead princess and the self-important (and to my mind illegal) accusations of some retired copper? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Have we, in this moronic inferno, dispensed with that notion altogether?

Even worse is the case of the former whip and Conservative MP for Dover, Charlie Elphicke. Suspended from his party more than a month ago, he has yet to be told — by the police, or indeed by his own former whips’ office — exactly why he has been cast out. Five, six, weeks have passed and the coppers still won’t tell him the nature of the allegations made against him, the stuff which has destroyed his career.

Some Tory MPs have said that there is an air of ‘Salem’ about this latest raft of allegations. Salem? Hell, at least the women of Salem knew what they were being done for: being witches. Elphicke doesn’t even have that consolation. Just knows that there are allegations and the police are handling them. And so he has to rouse his kids one night and inform his wife that the ten o’clock news will be telling the world that he is being booted out for ectoplasmic reasons nobody has the remotest clue about. Just that thing: something to do with sex. A smear, then. A besmirchment. And the Conservative party goes along with it all? This isn’t Salem, this is Kafka’s The Trial. What happened to the old-fashioned idea of ‘evidence’?

I know neither man, by the way. And I’m not a Tory. In fact I’m less a Tory now, because of this idiocy (and the continuing existence of Justine Greening), than I’ve ever been. And less likely to trust the police, too.