Part Two of The Spectator’s Guide to the Top 50 Political Scandals — counting down from No. 25 to No. 1
There is one word that frightens politicians more than any other: scandal.
They know that scandal can bring about personal ruin, cut short a promising career and even bring down a government.
The power of scandal is that it imprints itself on the public mind. Some are about sex, others about money, drugs or espionage.
The evening is laid out above the houses, behind Mr X’s head. Pinkish clouds collide then slide apart, exposing jigsaw shapes of darkening sky. A thumb smudge of moon appears over Westminster as Mr X gets to the point: ‘A new space age is about to begin,’ he says. ‘The question is not “will it happen?” — it will. The question is whether we want to be part of it.’ The light fades. The shadows on Mr X’s face deepen and his mood swings between elation and resignation.
David Kilcullen, the influential counter-insurgency strategist, seeks inspiration in Curzon’s experience as Viceroy of India to assess what Pakistan must do to deal with the extremist threat — and how Nato can help drive the ‘steamroller’Britain’s eyes this week are on southern Afghanistan. US Marines have doubled Coalition troop numbers in Helmand and are moving to clear Taleban base areas as part of Operation Khanjar.
The House of Commons is not, technically, the ‘mother of all parliaments’. This phrase was coined in 1865 by the radical MP John Bright, who was referring to England. She was, he said, the ancient country of parliaments: men had held these august gatherings for 600 uninterrupted years, even before the Conquest. So of course, he argued, the vote should be extended to the urban working class: anything that took greater account of English opinion would necessarily enrich our political system.
I wonder what Stephen Fry would write on Twitter shortly after he’d been hit very hard on the top of the head with a large spanner? Most likely nothing: the dead don’t Twitter — they probably use Facebook instead. But what if the blow didn’t quite kill? Give him a couple of hours and he’d be back. ‘Head hurts. Strange viscous fluid leaking onto the carpet out of my ears. Can’t see anything.
‘We have told the Greek ambassador that the reason we are holding you has nothing to do with Greece, which we respect as an old civilisation,’ my interrogator announced. ‘Even if it is now in the EU,’ he added, unable to resist a little dig.‘No, the reason you are here is because of the role you have played as a spy for England.’ Jasoos-e Inglis. English spy. By this time I had heard those words repeated over and over again.