Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 4 February 2013

Chris Huhne's demise is literally tragic

There's not much more I can add to the comments I have read across the blogosphere regarding the end of Chris Huhne's political career. But I'll have a go.

It strikes me that this is a literal example of a tragedy. I wanted to believe Huhne, really I did. I have followed his career with interest for many years and when I met him a few years back at conference he was as friendly and enthusiastic as he had always come across in the media. I wasn't a party member back in 2007 but if I had have been I'd have voted for him. But the circumstantial evidence all seemed to be pointing in the direction of him being guilty. Still, he was so adamant he was innocent and was so determined to push it all the way to a full trial that I had almost convinced myself there must have been some "rabbit out of a hat" that he was going to be able to produce to prove his innocence.

Sadly it wasn't to be. He pushed it to the wire and at the last minute pleaded guilty. That's why this is tragic. Because it's now clear that a strong character trait in Huhne is hubris. That was very useful in getting him a long way up the greasy pole. It probably helped him in his earlier career as an economist and journalist. It will have helped him in the tortuous process of getting selected and then elected as first an MEP and then an MP. It certainly served him very well in cabinet. By all accounts he was a tenacious minister who was respected and somewhat feared by his colleagues, even the Conservatives. But it is this very hubris that has been his downfall. He thought he could brazen it out and somehow cheat justice. It was only when he stared into the abyss and he must have realised the game was up that he capitulated and confessed.

There's not much more to say. His career is now over. He will likely go to prison for a time and I cannot argue that should not be the case. He deserves it. I thought that with Jeffrey Archer, I thought it with Jonathan Aitken and I think it with Chris Huhne. The mere fact I am typing his name in the same sentence as those two notorious names of yesteryear is galling, but he is now in the same category as them. Today's resignation in disgrace is what he will be remembered for. Anything else he achieved will be a footnote.

I just hope now that we can retain Eastleigh whenever the by-election is called. It will be a tough fight and Huhne has put us in a dreadful position but it is there for us to win. A win would help to quell the fears about a potential "meltdown" in 2015. A loss would... Well, lets worry about a loss if it happens.

One last thing. John Minard in the comments on Caron's blogpost suggested that this might be a good opportunity for a Lib Dem open primary in Eastleigh. This sounds like a very interesting idea and could help to ensure the candidate we choose has broad support across the constituency.


Tom Mein said...

So all the money that he has cost the taxpayer counts for nothing?
He only pleaded guilty because of the publication of his OWN son's e-mail and you are his apologist. You are a joke.
I really hope that you are wiped out in the coming by-election for your treachery with the 'boundaries' vote and condemning the UK to another labour government.

Nick said...

I think an open primary would be a bad idea. I'm not a huge fan of them anyway, but I remember the Tories using one before the Bedford mayoral by-election in 2009. The expected winner was beaten by an outsider, who brought in a lot of their friends etc to vote for them in the primary. This then alienated the party's activist base, and the candidate's supporters were interested in voting for him, but not doing the campaign work. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems were unified behind Dave Hodgson, and he went on to win amidst Tory infighting. An open primary so close to a by-election merely encourages people to air dirty laundry in public, and would damage the campaign, IMO.

Mark Thompson said...

@Tom: I never said the money he has cost counts for nothing. He's going to go to prison and deservedly so, as I said. There is no higher punishment that can be given in this country. I guess you'd want him flogged through the streets though by your tone so maybe you should campaign for that elsewhere.

I am not his apologist. I'm not sure how much clearer I could have been. Maybe this will help:

He. Deserves. To. Go. To. Prison.

Oh and if we get wiped out that makes a Labour majority government much, much more likely so be careful what you wish for.

Mark Thompson said...

@Nick: I am not a huge fan of them myself and would much prefer STV which effectively has the primary selection as part of the actual vote. But we are a million miles away from getting that.

So in its absence I think having an open selection could be good both for the party and the constituency. I understand there is a risk that someone well organised could swoop in and win the selection but if we use AV (or round by round elimination like was used here in Bracknell by the Tories) that is less likely to happen. Also, it's a bit dodgy to decry someone for being well organised. If candidates want to beat someone who can do that they need to be better organised themselves!

Putting my evil Machiavellian hat on for a minute, having an open selection has a chance of making the by-election less about the conduct of Huhne and more about the Lib Dems being open regarding the candidate. Slim chance I accept but anything that helps move us on is worth considering.

Tom Mein said...

Flogged, not at all, but stripped of every penny that he has received from the taxpayers of the UK. I am sick to death of seeing my hard earned money squandered.
He even received 17,000 when he resigned ffs.
Fail to see how you being wiped out will make a labour government more likely, but I can see that by your actions the labour party have an in-built 20 seat majority going into the next election.
The good thing going into the next election will be that the people on the left will hate you for getting into bed with the Conservatives, while the people on the right will hate you for your treachery on the Boundary changes.

Tom Mein said...

SHAMED Chris Huhne has delivered a final insult to the taxpayer — by slapping a £600 iPad on his expenses.

The former Lib Dem Cabinet minister bought the tablet just weeks ago — and can hold on to it despite quitting Parliament on Monday in disgrace.

The resigning MP stunned Westminster by admitting perverting justice just as his trial for shuffling speeding points was about to begin.

The judge told him to expect to go to jail — where he is tipped to face a sentence of around two years.

On top of the iPad, the ex-Energy Secretary is expected to walk away from the Commons with a £70,000 severance package, also footed by taxpayers.

The millionaire former City financier could trouser £17,207 — or three months of his taxpayer-funded salary — for quitting Cabinet.

Huhne, 58 — who was MP for Eastleigh, Hants — can also claim up to £53,150 for winding up his MP’s office.

All that is on top of the cost of his prosecution — thought to be more than £150,000 — and the estimated £100,000 police bill for their long investigation.

Under the rules of MPs’ expenses watchdog IPSA, he will not be chased to return the iPad because the cost of hiring bailiffs is “disproportionate to the benefit”.

But TaxPayers’ Alliance chief Matthew Sinclair said: “The timing of this claim appears utterly cynical.

“He can’t dodge the bill for this expensive gadget like he tried to dodge his speeding points.”

From Tom Mein
He is only a multi-millionaire so he obviously needs taxpayers money

Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur said...

He appears to combine the worst qualities of Cecil Parkinson and Jeffrey Archer.

A sef-centred, egregious spiv who may (although I wouldn't bet on it) emerge from this a better person