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

  • 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 Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station  

General Election 2015: Despite all the seeming cynicism, our political system works

Ian Birrell
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk