Chris Huhne’s political demise is a tragedy all round

by Kevin Meagher

No-one should take any pleasure in witnessing Chris Huhne’s public defenestration. A sequence of events that clearly spun out of control has cost a cabinet minister and plausible contender to succeed Nick Clegg his career, his seat and just possibly his liberty.

His resignation from parliament as he awaits sentencing for perverting the course of justice is not just a humiliating end to his political life but a personal tragedy. All the more so for his children and family, doubly victims given the disputatious end of his marriage to Vicky Pryce. But British politics has two abiding characteristics which are up in neon lighting for all to see today: there is little sympathy for the fallen and attention immediately focuses on who benefits from another’s misfortune.

So talk turns to the pending Eastleigh by-election, the prospects of UKIP’s Nigel Farage if he chooses to stand and the implications for the coalition if the Conservatives mount a full throttle campaign to snatch the seat. But there are other consequences our rubber-necking politicians and hacks should pause and reflect on.

The career path of a growing number of our parliamentarians now ends in the most brutal ignominy; a public shaming in court and a custodial sentence. On a human level, this is awful for anyone. Collectively, it scuttles public trust in our governing class.

“All political careers end in failure” remarked Enoch Powell, but there is something of a difference between failing to reach the cabinet and spending your time in a ten foot by eight foot cell, as a growing list of former parliamentarians can attest.

David Chaytor, Elliot Morley, Jim Devine, Eric Illsley and Margaret Moran were convicted of fraud relating to their expenses. Denis MacShane awaits his fate from a fresh police investigation after the parliamentary standards committee excoriated him over his expenses, forcing him to quit his Rotherham seat last November.

Meanwhile former immigration minister Phil Woolas was stripped of his Oldham seat for breaches of the Representation of the People Act in 2010 after a bruising re-election campaign against his Lib Dem opponent. All of them were mainstream figures, yet most found themselves ostracised by former colleagues who were simply glad it wasn’t them in the eye of the storm.

But who’s to say it won’t be them next time?

Those convicted during the expenses scandal in 2009 had hooky paperwork which incriminated them. Yet, scores of other MPs who trousered far bigger payments for equally morally dubious claims got away with paying something back and moving on, or simply quit at the last election.

If a moral philosopher rather than an investigating police officer had run the rule over MPs claims, HMP Pentonville would have been bulging at the seams.

Despite this, today’s class of politicians are no worse than previous generations. Most in fact are a good deal better. All are fallible. Some even deserve our sympathy – even at just a human level – for the messes that they get themselves in.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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14 Responses to “Chris Huhne’s political demise is a tragedy all round”

  1. Nick says:

    No-one should take any pleasure in witnessing Chris Huhne’s public defenestration.


    Why not? Just look at the harm he’s done to people as a politician?

    Spend people’s retirement money and put them into poverty and you should be in jail for life.

    There’s no difference between MPs and Bernie Maddoff. Both are running massive Ponzi scams that are going to hurt people.

    The saving grace for Maddoff, was he targeted the rich.

    Huhne and MPs are targeting the poor.

  2. Felix says:

    I shan’t be shedding a single tear

  3. Nick says:

    Yet, scores of other MPs who trousered far bigger payments for equally morally dubious claims got away with paying something back and moving on,

    That’s because the high levels of the Police and the CPS decided hat 52% of their paymasters in Jail, would result in them losing their jobs.

    Lets put your excuse for the thieves in Context.

    Hunhe says you can’t prosecute me because you didn’t go for all the MP fraudsters.

    Hmmm, Yorkshire ripper says you can’t go for me, because you haven’t caught Jack the ripper.

    Same flawed logic.

  4. Labour Gain.

    Why ever not? Of course, it would depend on the candidate.

    As for UKIP, Nigel Farage would look as if he were running scared if he did not stand.

    Yet he would never again be taken seriously if he stood but did not win, which he would not.

    This could be the end of three parties.

  5. Val Stevens says:

    What happened to Chris Huhne was not a tragedy. What he did may have tragic consequences for him and his family. He had choices as did the MP’s filling out dodgy claims forms. He was the architect of his own downfall. He did not have to have an affair, he did not have to speed in his car, he did not have to ask his wife to take the points and he did not have to lie about it all. People who want to be in the public eye have to take the consequences of their actions. if you want a private life have one but don’t go in to politics and expect to get away with lying about your misdemeanours.

  6. bob says:

    He’s a lair, tried to implicate his wife, who is claiming ‘marital coercion’ as a defense. You all pontificate on here about how awful domestic violence is, you are a hypocritical and shameful supporters of a political party that tacitly approves of this situation. The recent thread about domestic and sexual violence attracted very few posters except myself. If his co-defendant is acquitted, then she has been shown to have suffered psychological violence. i cannot remember a Labour MP speaking out to any extent on this subject in particular when it involves minority communities, the other parties are the same, there is no difference between them all, fearing being pushed off the gravy train.

    MPs have to be held to a higher standard of proberty, than the man in the street, as they are lawmakers, who would immediately say ‘how awful, why isn’t he/she not in prison’. Many Labour MPs have been found guilty of misconduct in public office and theft, many more on all sides could and should be held to account, if they were investigated deeply enough. Only the arrogant or stupid were caught, rightly serving time at Her Majesties fun houses. One notes, the former leader Blair had his expenses claims mysteriously shredded.

    Huhne is an arrogant insufferable fool, who never believed he would be caught and tried all ways to have the court throw out the charges. I will raise a glass tonight to the police and CPS in salute in dragging this man before the courts, and him finally admitting his guilt, I suspect Clegg will be doing the same.

  7. swatantra says:

    All poitical careersend in failure, said Enoch, and he should know, the carpet bagger without principles. But not much luck for Eastleigh then, yet another MP ending their career in disgrace. Last time it was a Tory who was found dead within an orange stuck in his mouth and wearing tights! yes it was man .
    So Chris has joined the club. Just proves MPs are human, but in reality we really expect better from them, because theyt do tend to pontificate on our behalf, endlessly..

  8. Andy says:

    He is a liar and a philanderer. He is absolutely no loss to politics at all. He is trash.

  9. Kevin says:

    You’ve convinced me. Let’s build the scaffold. Or is hanging too good for him?

  10. McCurry says:

    Not a lot of people seem to agree with you on this one, Kevin.

    By the way, you do realise Vicky Price is likely to go to jail as well? His admission is evidence against her. In fact, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    Personally, I think the judge will have a sleepless night, then then send her to Holloway for three months. The problem for His Honour is that everyone is watching. He can’t show mercy on this one. An example must be made.

  11. bob says:

    Andy: does that include Blair and Brown, Mandleson and the rest, all shown to have bent the truth more than a little, also included in that Johnathon Aitkin and Neil Hamilton.

    Maybe we should have a recall rule, or just a little ‘waterboarding’ before we let them stand.

  12. G Wilson says:

    “Despite this, today’s class of politicians are no worse than previous generations. ”

    That generalised statement does not appear to be substantiated by evidence. I could equally say that “today’s class of politicians” are careerist managers without the sense of public service that was more typical of MP’s in the days of mass party memberships.

  13. Andy says:

    @Bob – Blair should appear before the Hague, Mandelson directly cost several thousand people round here their jobs by his actions while Trade Commissioner at the EU, Brown should be charged with Malfeasance at the very least. Atkin and Hamilton were rightly ‘banged up’. Margaret Moran (you missed her) is little more than a coward to add to being a thief.

    Huhne – in case it has escaped your attention – has deliberately lied to the Police in the course of their investigations and lied in Court. He has attempted to coerce other people to lie on his behalf. He is no loss and he is trash.

  14. bob says:

    I would love to see Blair at the Hague and even though you hate the concept, sent to Gittmo for life. As for being ‘banged up’ so was Jeffery Archer, Margaret Moran was adjudged to be ill, but so was Ernest Saunders who recovered from Alzheimers disease, a world first.

    I have also posted on Labour List on a different subject, but unlike here they do not like to have their failings, having the spot light of truth shone upon them.

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