Grace Dent: Check your closet for skeletons, Rufus Hound. Britain likes its politicians squeakier than squeaky clean

I'm amazed that Rufus is considering swapping celebrity for politics

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The Independent Online

I applaud Rufus Hound – the jolly nice actor-comedian type you may have seen in 8 Out of 10 Cats or in his starring role in One Man, Two Guvnors – for his aim to become a politician. He’s very het up about Jeremy Hunt and the NHS and, in his words, “did not want to become one of those people who whinge on and on, wringing hands and asking, ‘but why isn’t someone doing something?’”

Twitter is full to the brim of people whinging on and on and on. I’ve never noticed Rufus as one of those people, but there are a dozens of other sanctimonious Twitter blowhards and terminal curmudgeons who spend all day broadcasting their political mantra and examples of societal woe and injustice  while I inwardly chunter: “Why don’t you actually run for Parliament and do something constructive instead of bleating on, beating your chest and lapping up your retweets. It’s not like you’re busy. You’re on here all day tweeting links to the New Statesman.”

It’s a very different matter to come away from your keyboard and your role as an amateur anarchist or righter of wrongs and to try to become an official mouthpiece with power. I am amazed Rufus is doing this, because, firstly, being a celebrity is a cushy life of artistic and cerebral stimulation. A life of paid-for taxis, and having your face made up to look its best, in a squishy chair, while a make-up artist gossips about who is and isn’t a tit. In contrast, being a Member of Parliament looks to me like being in one eternal episode of Ever Decreasing Circles, with Richard Briers, where it takes them 28 meetings to decide what day they should hold the cul-de-sac’s pumpkin competition, resulting in everyone falling out and there being no competition at all. This is why Russell Brand – whom you may remember was instigating a revolution via Twitter late last year – does not stand for Parliament, despite his fury at British democracy and the marginalisation of youth and so on, but prefers instead to fart around in a yoga singlet achieving nothing but hot air.

The second, less obvious, reason that keyboard warriors rarely stand for Parliament or even push themselves to be the chief unofficial ombudsmen on a subject is that it is perilously exposing. The British are not ready to take advice from anyone who is less than flawless, historically perfect, and has lived without hypocrisy, but love to moan about the genre of human being – Jeremy Hunt, for instance – who had to the mettle to become an MP or great changer of “how we live”.


The ex-footballer Stan Collymore popped up last week to “do something” about  the question of racism, and to point out that in this day and age his being called a nigger or a coon or any other of the bleak racist terms that we put in the bin in 1970  is fundamentally wrong. Collymore spoke on numerous TV and radio forums,  calmly and vehemently, clearly not wanting to be one of those people “who whinge on and on” and instead making a stand. But Collymore was involved in a domestic violence incident more than 14 years  ago. How dare he – the response came  over social media –  remind us racism that  is unacceptable? The nerve! How dare he “do something” for future generations of young black men. By the evening, Collymore’s historical indiscretion was page one of a tabloid. Collymore feels about racism as Hound feels about the NHS. What Collymore was told here was  that there is no room for action if you  have erred in the past. No room for repentance. No room for growth and  no “second acts”.

This is Great Britain in 2014. I hope Rufus Hound spent his youth locked in an attic leafing through the Giles annual and drinking weak Robinsons lemon barley. Because when you take the talking stick, it’s the British way to grab it from your hands and beat you with it.

Not even a single gay in the village

Of course, the Mayor of Sochi, Anatoly Pakhomov, won’t have any semantic dilemmas over whether to call his same-sex friends’ weddings “gay” or “equal” because he has no gay friends. This is due to there being no gay people in Sochi. None. Zero.

Mr Pakhomov was adamant about this during John Sweeney’s Panorama interview for the BBC which aired last night. And yes, I’m as surprised as you are by this.  But let us remember that Mr Pakhomov  is a man of considerable power and the Mayor of a city that the Olympic committee felt non-medieval enough to host the Winter Olympics. We must, therefore,  heed his word. “I went to a gay bar last night,” said Sweeney. But Mr Pakhomov was, on this matter, just like so many others, deaf.