It is interesting, following decades of public pleading that our stiff-mannered, silver-spoon-sucking MPs should behave like “real people”, that when everyday types such as Labour MP Simon Danczuk and his wife, Karen, push themselves forward, well, we’re not too keen on it.
I say “wife”. Ardent political spectators will be aware the Danczuks are now estranged. Karen, the women with the boob-selfie fixation, publicised her abject tristesse over the break-up by putting on a tiny leopard-skin bikini, driving to a beach and whisking through a number of activities for waiting cameras. Volleyball, sunbathing, juddering about with a ping-pong bat. Point made, Karen then took to Twitter to spill the beans on Simon who she claims – according to tweets sent to 62,000 followers – is an #arrogant #alcoholic.
Simon replied by tweeting one of those laboured “Look at me, I’m out with boys down the pub being 100 per cent fine!”-style of photos, which recently dumped people are seemingly powerless but to inflict on their ex-partners. Simon says she’s shagging her personal trainer anyway. Karen says she was in a sexless marriage.
I watched beguiled, hoping for dignity, just not before I’ve finished my popcorn. But then, oh joy, Karen’s personal trainer chipped in, tweeting to point out that as he is separated from his wife, um, leaving Karen’s house at 5am is not as bad as it might appear.
So yes, Simon and Karen are roaringly, eye-wateringly real people. They’re a perfect snapshot of modern, 4G-smartphone-wielding Britain. In fact, they behave exactly like the sort of awful couple one meets at the school gate or on a package holiday who instantly add you on Facebook before treating you – drip-feed-style – to the dirty washing-basket of their private life via social media.
It’s not often one longs for the era of sexless political robots like John Major, but it’s worth noting that when he transpired to have been something of a secret shagger, Norma hadn’t breathed a word of it in 20 years. I’ll guess Norma punished John in other ways – a sort of death by a thousand paper-cuts – but she didn’t leak photos of herself on Margate beach oiling her boobs and playing Frisbee. But politicians are changing. Oh we laughed when Lembit Opik paired up with Gabriela from the Cheeky Girls. We’re not laughing now – compared to the Danczuks they were a snoozily serene pairing.
Social media is really no place for political people. It exposes them as silly, self-obsessed and flawed, but they’ve not quite worked that out yet, so we can only grit our teeth and hope it doesn’t kill their chances of any future shot at power.
Like when Labour candidate Amran Hussain traipsed down to the beach at Sousse last week with his selfie stick to grab a snap in front of beach loungers they’d only removed bodies from days earlier. “Selfies are not banned,” he said, in response to the nose-wrinkling at his naffness. “I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
And Hussain is absolutely right, selfies at scenes of recent mass bloodshed are not banned. Help yourself mate. It’s just there was a point in time – not that far back – when only a crass and senseless dunderhead would think to try and take one. And certainly not a Westminster hopeful.
Likewise, Karen Danczuk’s obsession with selfies – typically taken in her living room, or in her bedroom, featuring her undulous bosom hoisted and with an expression normally seen in a copy of Razzle – are frankly weird in a political setting.
And yes, Karen, there is no law that says “MPs’ wives should not provide a never-ending and imaginative supply of masturbation material for anonymous internet thrappers”. But, the thing is, there shouldn’t need to be a law. Just don’t do it. It is grasping, desperate and a bit sad. I’m not sure I’d vote for anyone with a wife who is clearly lost in a desperate solipsistic fug. It doesn’t present a great picture of a person with his eye on the ball.
Still, the Danczuk sideshow continues. “I won’t play a victim nor use my boys to play hero in the press. Im [sic] a mum, my only priority is to privately protect them,” Karen tweeted on Sunday night, accompanied by a posed photo of her child’s hand.
There would be little point, I guess, in explaining to Karen that she just did, by default, “use” her boys as weapons against her ex. Y’know, just then? In the tweet where she claimed she wouldn’t? And definitely no point in saying that in these rapidly downward-spiralling circumstances it would be better to stop tweeting altogether.
Because when real people are trapped in this sort of cycle, suggesting to them that they “have a little break” from the internet is like suggesting you both go outdoors and harness the moon with a fishing net. It’s unthinkable, bewildering and an enormous ask. One they’ll only consider once they’ve finished telling “their side of the story” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and wailing as the universal electronic hive mind tweets back its two cents.
One thing real people on the internet do very often is mistake their follower count for friends or fans, when in fact they’re just looky-loos enjoying the car-crash. It must be tempting for political sorts to Tweet freely about their personal lives, their vinyl collections, their bugbears and their bad days, observe gleefuly that their Twitter followers are growing and feel they’re really reaching out. Surely this must translate into scalps for election-time?
In a sad twist, Simon appeared on yesterday’s World At One on Radio 4 to announce he is seeing a psychiatrist, has been drinking too much and his work has taken “a toll on his marriage”. Honest? Certainly. Winning? I’m not sure.
Britain, thankfully, actually seems to prefer quiet dignity and a sense of getting the job done.Reuse content