Huhne affair signals end of Lib Dem moral superiority

Little more than five weeks since the formation of the coalition government a second Cabinet Minister is about to have his private life trawled over in the media as a result of his actions.

The political editor at the Sunday People is trailing tomorrow’s edition’s main headline, that the Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, has left his wife for another woman.  That other woman seems to be Lib Dem Publicity Consultant, Carina Trimingham given that Huhne has been quoted by Nigel Nelson as saying:

“I am in a serious relationship with Carina Trimingham”

It wasn’t fast work, as the People will reveal Chris Huhne has been cheating on his wife, Vicky, for over a year.

The news is certainly going to attract some publicity, so maybe it’s job done for Ms Trimingham, but it’s probably not the kind of publicity the morally superior Lib Dems would have wanted – especially after the David Laws affair.  It is probably not the kind of publicity Ms Trimingham’s other employers, Amnesty International and the Electoral Reform Society, want either.  That probably explains why her Twitter page (where in her few contributions she mainly retweeted Chris Huhne’s tweets) has been deleted and her Facebook page has been deactivated.

The emerging story has already been briefly picked over by ConservativeHome, with its co-editor Tim Montgomerie publishing an editorial seeking to tell readers how a grown up society should react to such events.  Tim refers readers back to a two-year-old editorial on his site that asked and answered the following questions:

Does a politician’s private life matter? Yes.

Should a questionable private life prevent a politician from achieving high office? No.

We agree on question one.  But there are obvious circumstances when a questionable private life should prevent a politician from achieving high office – and Chris Huhne’s apparent extramarital affair is an example of one.  Behaviour in politician’s private life that suggests he or she has a questionable character or a propensity to deceit or deception should preclude them from high office.  If the public cannot rely upon the politician to be honourable and truthful then that person has no place in government.

I have every sympathy for anyone whose relationship has broken down.  We are only human after all and sometimes things and people change.  But I have no sympathy for someone who remains in their relationship and establishes one with another person behind the back of their partner.  That is deceit, a lie, a betrayal of trust.  When a politician has the capacity to do that to the person closest to them they clearly have the capacity to be equally deceitful to an electorate of strangers.  Huhne has broken a trust and cannot be relied upon to be honest or honourable.  In short, he has no place in government.

The only surprise for some people is that in a government comprising Conservative and Lib Dem ministers, the dishonest and sleazy exposés  that have twice undermined it have concerned the minority Lib Dem partners.  Given the moral superiority frequently displayed by the Lib Dems, having two of their five cabinet members dragged over the coals for sleaze in the first six weeks of the administration’s life points to existence of hypocrisy of the highest order.

Perhaps now the Lib Dems have made it into the greenhouse they will stop throwing stones and portraying themselves as somehow more reliable than their political rivals.  As for Huhne, he should resign.  A man who casually lies and cheats in his personal life is more than capable of doing the same in his professional one.  This country deserves better.  After all the talk of a new politics let’s see it made real with the removal of an untrustworthy man from office.

Update: This might seem a minor story when set against issues such as Afghanistan, the economy and numerous other major topics.  But if this country is ever to move beyond political pygmies and to enjoy honest and responsible government, liars and cheats like Huhne need to be weeded out of positions of responsibility.

10 Responses to “Huhne affair signals end of Lib Dem moral superiority”

  1. 1 WitteringsfromWitney 19/06/2010 at 6:22 pm

    Going to disagree with you to a certain extent on this AM.

    Providing there has been no impropriety with the use of public money, then I see no problem.

    I accept your point about deceit and trust, however I believe there are far more important issues that the media can and should concentrate on.

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 19/06/2010 at 6:28 pm

    Since your comment WfW I’ve added a final paragraph to reinforce my point. I don’t know if that changes your view, but if nothing else it clarifies what I was driving at.

  3. 3 Senior 19/06/2010 at 6:32 pm

    Chris Huhne has already been dishonest to his constituents, by not telling them about the affair until after the general election. He cannot be trusted and he should lose his seat.

  4. 4 JS 19/06/2010 at 9:30 pm

    I trust no climate alarmist, and he is one.

  5. 5 PaulH from Scotland 19/06/2010 at 10:27 pm

    Disagree with you on this one AM. There is no black and white in a relationship breakdown.

    Lost a wee bit respect for you in not being aware of that.

    Other than that, keep up the good work.

  6. 6 middleengland 20/06/2010 at 1:14 am

    Firstly he has betrayed his wife of 26 years. Secondly he has betrayed his 5 children and 1 grandchild. Thirdly he has betrayed his constituents. Fourthly he has betrayed his party. Fifthly he has betrayed his party leader Nick Clegg (who he kept in the dark about his affair), Sixthly he has betrayed the government that promised an end to sleaze and dubious morals. Seventhly, there needs to be an investigation of the money he paid her as his PR flack during the General Election campaign and before to see if he has paid her any public funds.

  7. 7 Autonomous Mind 20/06/2010 at 11:19 am

    Debate and disagreement is what it’s all about PaulH. Unlike most politicians I am prepared to express a clear personal view which is what I’ve done here, and I expected that not everyone will agree with my view.

    As a divorced man myself I know all about relationship breakdown and that there are grey areas. Having an affair doesn’t deal with a relationship that is failing and it breaks the promise made when marrying. I wanted out, but I didn’t get involved with anyone else until I had legally separated and moved out of the marital home. For me it was a matter of honour, however old fashioned that might sound.

    I would have had nothing but sympathy and respect for Huhne if he had separated from his wife, with no other party involved, because the relationship had broken down. I would have been happy for him if he had then embarked on a new relationship with Ms Trimingham or any one else. But Huhne went behind his wife’s back for more than a year – a have your cake and eat it pattern of behaviour – and for me that is dishonest. But I respect your differing outlook on this, Paul and thank you for your encouragement.

  8. 8 JohnRS 20/06/2010 at 12:52 pm

    If even his wife can’t trust him why should the rest of us?

  9. 9 Grumpy Old man 20/06/2010 at 5:46 pm

    This is a seriously difficult question. Is he just a bed hopper – incapable of keeping his word – or was his marriage already on the rocks when he met his new love? Yes, people do get divorced, leave marriages, partnerships but it does not mean that they are necessarily immoral or untrustworthy. You have to look at the whole circumstances and that we cannot do. Better to judge his performance in office. To call nuclear energy old fashioned and then want to build windmills shows a very disturbed mind.

  10. 10 Nigel 20/06/2010 at 10:23 pm

    Isn’t deceit the “stock-in-trade” of almost all modern politicians ?

    Doesn’t integrity automatically disqualify the individual from a career in politics ?

    Somebody votes these people in, and it isn’t me….

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