Rachel Royce: I know from bitter experience why they're at it

These men are just like kiddies in a sweetshop


Edwina Currie once said that if a man wanted to avoid catching Aids, he should take his wife on business trips. Perhaps a similar catchphrase could be made up for politicians: if they want to avoid affairs they "regret", they should take their wives to parties. For there are many. And these men are like kiddies in a sweetshop.

The nation woke up this week to the sight of a jaunty Deputy Prime Minister cavorting at the Whitehall Christmas party with his diary secretary, Tracey Temple. It turned out she had been his mistress for at least two years. This is the man who was believed to have the happiest marriage in politics: forty-four years with his loyal wife Pauline.

She was said by her husband to be "devastated"; the news came as a shock to her, at least. But not, it seems, to political observers, who believe that Prescott may have had a string of affairs. Many politicians do, and so do political hangers-on, journalists, PR girls, Westminster secretaries et al. I should know. My adulterous husband (Rod Liddle) is a political columnist.

Such people hang out in a world where affairs are the norm, the subject of gossip but not condemnation. Illicit liaisons spark up in the fevered atmosphere of rooms full of people who believe they are doing something important while spouting something clever, miles away from mundane family life.

My marriage broke up after I discovered Rod was having an affair with the receptionist at The Spectator magazine. This revelation was quickly followed by the news that the magazine's editor, Boris Johnson, had been at it for years with one of his writers, Petronella Wyatt. Then there was the astonishing news that the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, was having an affair with the magazine's glamorous publisher, Kimberly Quinn.

People like Boris and all the disgraced MPs and Cabinet ministers who have gone before are "at it" all the time because they can. They have the opportunity like no other working person in Britain, with perhaps the exception of army officers and lap-dancers. Not once a year at the office party but three, four, five times a week at the many functions that make the world of Westminster spin around.

Cabinet ministers have pulling power, there is no question. They can indulge all their mistresses' fantasies about power, wealth and influence. Even backbench MPs have more opportunity than most for extramarital affairs. Their wives are often left in the constituency while they are in London, staying in their second home, subsidised on expenses.

Pauline wasn't at that Whitehall Christmas party when her husband was so affectionate with a woman young enough to be his daughter. Perhaps she felt she had better things to do. Or maybe she wasn't invited.

Rod often told me that spouses weren't welcome at many of his parties. I don't know to this day how true that was. I don't think I would have cramped his style, as a journalist myself, I'm pretty used to talking to anyone.

As the wife of someone whose job it is to go to parties, it would be a bore to go to every one, but the occasional invitation to the more glamorous events would have been welcome. When I wasn't invited to the Spectator Christmas party - having written two pieces that had made the front page - I began to suspect something was wrong.

Later I learnt that Rod had spent the evening snogging his mistress like a teenager. I felt sick. Pauline Prescott must feel similarly nauseous after seeing the photos of her husband. Supposing she wants to stay with him, then I suggest she picks out her tartiest frock and forces her way on to the party circuit - whether he likes it or not.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower