The Vicky Pryce/Chris Huhne tale shows the destruction that only love can wreak

When women feel as let down as Pryce did, there are few weapons available to them. I think every woman would feel a small shred of sympathy for her

Share

Men go to war to avenge love and loss of love.

On a more basic level, they thump the man who took their girl. Women, on the other hand, do other things to exact revenge. They cut up Savile Row suits, donate a priceless wine collection to bemused villagers. They also expose their erring partners in the press just as Vicky Pryce has done.

We’ve seen all it before – the hurt, the betrayal, the shattered dreams, all played out in front of a public audience. Pryce lashed out in the only way she knew how to, and it had disastrous consequences. Her family lies destroyed, her reputation shattered. And yet I don’t think there is a woman out there who doesn’t have a small shred of sympathy for her.

She is a woman of great stature, a fine brain, steely ambition. She has five children whom she obviously loves. She should have been able to stand tall and proud. But it turned out her husband, Chris Huhne, was a lying wimp.

Let’s put this into context. Huhne, her husband of more than two decades, rang her and told her their marriage was over while she was at a football match with their son. That in itself almost beggars belief. Then, for all the time he protested his innocence vis à vis the speeding points fiasco, he was lying. All those times he told friends, family, the press, the public, etc he was innocent, he was lying. He cost the legal system the thousands of pounds that it is now trying to claim back.

I am not surprised that this enraged his former wife. Her ex-husband, who had left her for another woman whom she also trusted (a double whammy) stood in front of the people who voted for him, in front of the tax-paying public in general, and knowingly lied. Pryce says she wanted to show us who Chris Huhne really was – a man lacking in any moral fibre. Why should he escape unscathed? If he could have wriggled his way out of the situation, he would have done. So she told someone about the speeding points and that was the little spade of earth that she put in to the ground.

So who is to blame here? When women feel as horribly let down as Pryce did, there are only a few weapons available to them – anger, hurt, rage. We’ve all felt it at some point. It’s what being human is about. Betrayal gets into places we never even knew existed.

’Twas ever thus. People go to war over love (witness the Trojan War), they kill each other, vow to avenge their lover’s deaths, drag love rivals round the gates attached to a chariot. This is the point of it. Love, the search for love, the desire for it, the excruciating pain at the loss of it is more powerful than money, power, ambition. It’s the stuff of soap operas and yet it has been part of the world since Adam and Eve. It is what makes us human. Our logical brains, our well-ordered lives, the happiness we so rely on – all this is meaningless when faced with the power, the terror, the glories of love.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt that swoon of love, those first moments of absolute passion and then … hopefully, that settling down, a sense of commitment. We maybe make a home, have children. We build up a life of love and trust. This is what Vicky Pryce thought she and Chris Huhne had achieved. She had obviously already had heartbreak. She had two children and a broken-down marriage when she met Huhne. She had hope but then she got dealt a bad hand.

When my last relationship broke up, all I wanted was for the Number Whatever bus to go out of control and mow my ex down. Someone asked me, at the time, what would make me happy. “A hitman,” I replied. And I meant it. My ex has also admitted that he truly wished an aeroplane would fall from the sky and obliterate me.

We feel shocked about that now, more than a year on. But back then, for both of us, we were so horrifically angry with each other that neither of us could think particularly logically. Our families and our friends meant nothing. We just wanted the other one to go away for ever and then we wouldn’t have to deal with anything.

For a while, I was filled with fire, a belly full of fire. I felt I was a gorgon, able to annihilate people with the intense white heat in the fury of my gaze. This is how Pryce felt. She wanted to expose the man who had so horribly let her down.

The public nature of it all is what doomed her, especially when it came to the children. Should Pryce have revealed Huhne to be a liar? Yet if people behave badly on a continual basis, why should someone not reveal that?

Pryce’s children are also old enough to make their own assumptions and decisions about their father. It is important to separate the issues here. Just because Pryce took the points, just because she is an intelligent woman, doesn’t mean to say she wasn’t coerced. Everyone makes sacrifices in a marriage. Sometimes, when being badgered by a persuasive, highly ambitious husband, it is, eventually, the easier path to give in – to submit to your duty to “be in this together”.

This is not excusing Pryce – or Huhne for that matter – over the nightmare that their children have been through. But it seems that one small admission started a boulder rolling down a hill gathering moss. But don’t we all understand this madness? Isn’t this what makes Pryce human? That even two people as intelligent, as savvy, as together as the Huhnes can totally destroy themselves through love and all its off-shoots. What’s amazing – reassuring, even – is that we, as humans, can act in this way. The Vicky Pryce-Chris Huhne affair is about exactly those incredible human qualities Shakespeare wrote of; love, hate, passion, loathing, anger, malice, order vs chaos.

None of us is above any of them and none of us best forget that, ever.

Lucy Cavendish’s novels include ‘Samantha Smythe’s Modern Family Journal’

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Co-Ordinator - FF&E

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior FF&E Project Co-ordinator is re...

Recruitment Genius: Part Time Carer / Support Worker plus Bank Support

£10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A delightful, 11 year old boy who lives in t...

Recruitment Genius: Office Furniture Installer / Driver

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Furniture Installer /...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - North West - OTE £40k

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron and Ed Miliband officially launched their election campaigns yesterday after Parliament was dissolved  

All-or-nothing simplicities are going to blight this election

John Rentoul
 

If I Were Prime Minister: Every civil servant would be held accountable by their own civilian 'buddy'

Julia Hobsbawm
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor