Brooks Newmark yesterday became the latest politician to be made to fall on his sword when it was revealed he had sent an explicit photograph of himself to an undercover reporter posing as a female party activist.
But all is not quite as it seems – and now a number of unexpected people are questioning whether, at the start of the 21st century, such an indiscretion should really be resigning matter. Here’s why:
Newmark was the victim of a tabloid sting. It was the same sting that set out to entrap a whole number of Tory MPs. The journalist posed as “Sophie Wittams”, supposedly an early 20s Conservative-supporting PR girl living in London. Her Twitter profile pic was deliberately provocative – long blond hair, big blue eyes – and the minimum of clothing to make it decent. Others MPs including Dan Byles, Charlie Elphicke, Rob Jenrick, Gavin Barwell and even Mark Reckless were also targeted. Unfortunately for Newmark he was the only MP foolish enough to fall for Sohpie’s amorous advances.
Newmark did not break any laws. What he did may have been distasteful but has nothing to do with his ability to do his job as Minister for Civil Society. Ministers should be made to resign for being bad ministers – not for being a bit sleazy. Newmark has a lot to explain to his wife and she may not forgive him – but that’s a private matter not a resigning matter.
Plenty of politicians in history have gone much further than Newmark and actually consummated their desires. Lloyd George was infamous while in more recent times Paddy Ashdown, Bill Clinton and Robin Cook are just three examples of politicians who had extra-marital affairs and got away with it. And there will be many who weren’t caught.
Then there is Boris Johnson: the Tory darling and favourite to take over from Cameron should the Tories lose the next election. He’s had at least two extra-marital affairs – and one love child. But that doesn’t seem to have damaged him.
Even some of the Tories most ardent critics don’t think he should have been forced out. As the left wing commentator and general hater of all things Tory Owen Jones put it: “A male journo sent Brooks Newmark explicit pics of who knows who as part of a sting operation. Gutter stuff. Shouldn't be resigning issue.”Reuse content