It was that way for John Major’s Tory Government in the 90s. It wasn’t his affair with Edwina Currie or David Mellor’s sexual escapades in a Chelsea strip that did for them. It was their extolling of family values and ‘back to basics’ pronouncements, when many were clearly living and behaving vastly differently.
To err is human, and that applies to politicians as it does to every walk of life. Relationships, drink and other behaviours afflict many. There are some issues that cross a line and others that are really frankly no one else’s business other than the parties affected.
I’ve always preferred more continental-style politics where people’s private lives are largely ignored. The classic example, perhaps, being President Francois Mitterrand who not only had an affair while in office but a daughter born from the relationship.
So what, seemed to be the view of the French media and much of French society. Hear, hear say I. For me, he was a formidable Socialist president, and criticisms relate to his previous incarnations and actions whether with Vichy France or in Algeria which are far more dubious.
But this country’s sadly different, though again politicians have to bear some of the blame for the cross they bear.
What’s doing for the SNP at the moment aren’t the particular actions of Patrick Grady but the position they took as the party that was whiter than white. No party was purer than that led by the Snow Queen.
Not a speck of dirt could land upon her, misbehaviour would be rooted out and, as Ian Blackford trumpeted, “sexual harassment” wouldn’t be tolerated. But it was, as has been exposed. And it’s the hypocrisy that’s now doing for the SNP.
What’s clear to the public is that they’ve been saying one thing and doing the other. To be fair, most SNP elected members just lead normal lives and are both quiet-living and very honourable. But despite the attempts, from the First Minister down, to position the party as a paragon of virtue, they’re actually no different from the others.
All parties have individuals who err, though it has to be said that Boris Johnson’s Tories are doing their best to plumb new depths. It’s why it’s all a bit rich to see the outrage from opposition parties. Look in the mirror.
Patrick Grady’s actions were wrong, and he has been rightly censured. It’ll be for him, his local party and the electorate what he does next. It was the manner of how it was dealt with within the party, if it was dealt with at all, and the public profile of hounding out such abuse, while tolerating it and covering it up within their own party.
Mark McDonald was politically crucified for “inappropriate” behaviour he’d thought was “humorous” or “friendly”. Alex Salmond was denounced and yet acquitted on every charge. But Derek McKay and Patrick Grady were, initially at least, privately supported. I recall a chat with an SNP MP who accepted that the treatment of McDonald was wrong and shameful. Did he speak out? No, instead he’s been fast-tracked forward.
Grady's behaviour was unacceptable, but the SNP's self-righteous hypocrisy is sickening.