Chris Huhne: Whatever you think of his past, these texts between a father and son are heart-breaking

Putting Huhne's catalogue of deceit to the side, we can still feel empathy for a man who had such personal opprobrium heaped on him, and then had it seen by the public

Share
Related Topics

He called his son “Tiger”, his son called him “a fat piece of s***”.

He wished his son "Happy Christmas", his son replied with "I hate you, so f*** off". He tells his son that he's proud of him, and back comes: "Don't contact me again, you make me sick." And so it goes on. The text messages between Chris Huhne and his son Peter, who is now 20 years old, are truly heart-breaking to read, whether you happen to be a parent or not.

And of all facets of the multi-layered catastrophe that represents the downfall of a man who was once a whisker away from proper political power, it is the exchanges between father and son that turn this story from one of shattered ambition into something altogether more complex and human.

The driving offences, the lies, the jilted wife, the cover-up,
and a career in the knacker's yard - in my eyes, they are all dwarfed in resonance by the tragic dislocation of Huhne's relationship with his then teenaged son, which was exposed in court by the disclosure of the text message trail between the two.

It was all too easy to imagine the pain felt by Huhne, and relate to his predicament. He sends a text to his son, proffering a hand in reconciliation, or sending a message of support, or simply expressing paternal love. A few minutes later, his mobile pings, and for a brief moment his heart lifts, hopeful for what has been delivered.  But then he opens the text to reveal an implacably hostile response. Again and again, over the course of a year, Huhne put himself through the same gut-wrenching process.

Every effort he made to try and repair the relationship was firmly rebuffed, sometimes with a direct and coarse two-word response.  Whatever else we think of Huhne and his catalogue of deceit, and however badly he has behaved towards his family, we can still feel empathy for a man who had such personal opprobrium heaped on him through this impersonal channel, and then had it placed before the voyeuristic gaze of a censorious public.

I wonder how this story would have played out 20-odd years ago, in an era before text messaging became the common currency of inter-personal communication.  Huhne and his son would have had to talk to each other. Peter may have put down the phone on his dad, but maybe, just maybe, hearing each other's voices could have been enough to defuse the situation. The tone of voice, a nuanced expression of affection, a joke even, may have been enough to soften Peter's 18-year-old heart.

Possibly not, but it is undoubtedly the case that text messaging is no way to resolve an argument. In fact, it's the coward's way out. We are much braver when we are punching out words on a mobile phone than when we are addressing the recipient face-to-face. And the harshest of sentiments have more power and permanence - as we have clearly seen in this case - when they are delivered in a text. And long after we've forgotten the speeding points, and the who-did-what-to-whom, we shall remember the shocking messages delivered by son to father, and we shall feel sorry for Chris Huhne.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

Business Analyst (Systems/ Incident Analyst)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Business Analyst r...

SAP GRC Architect / Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently looking for a PERMANENT S...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Believe me, I said, there’s nothing rural about this urban borough’s attempt at a country fair

John Walsh
Tony and Cherie Blair on the day he was elected  

The intensity of the adulation for Blair ought to concern Labour’s ‘new’ man

Steve Richards
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor