Terence Blacker: Why politicians have problems with sex

Social Studies: Every interview, walkabout or chat-show appearance is part of a process of seduction

Share
Related Topics

It is the time of the year when, in a mood of post-holiday seriousness, we are all supposed to be considering matters of moment in international politics and economics. Unfortunately, as a result of the misbehaviour of a few political leaders, bizarre and inappropriate cameos tend to break the mood, as if Inspector Clouseau keeps blundering on to the set of an Ingmar Bergman film.

There is the prime minister of Italy with 11 women queuing outside his bedroom. "I only managed to do eight of them, I couldn't manage any more," he confided in a telephone conversation, which happens to have been taped. Then, still lingering unpleasantly in the mind, there is an image from the Sofitel Hotel in New York: a burly man in his 60s barrelling, naked and priapic, out of the bathroom in the direction of a maid, like a Playboy cartoon.

Nearer home, the Mayor of London – apparently "one of Britain's most accomplished Lotharios" – has been portrayed in a new biography following his mistress of the moment down the King's Road, hanging back a few yards behind her and wearing a beanie hat in a feeble attempt to throw the press off the track. "He makes the rest of the world disappear," explained an admirer.

Finally, the President of the United States is described in another new book as being at the centre of an all-male elite, suspicious and ill-at-ease with women. "I felt like a piece of meat," one high-ranking woman within the administration complained. "The president has a real woman problem," said another.

When all these acts of gender inappropriateness – too friendly, not friendly enough – are put together, one has to admit that the home team emerge with some credit. All that Boris Johnson was doing, if his biographer is to be believed, was putting himself about a bit, in spite of being married.

Incomparably more embarrassing is the behaviour of little Berlusconi who now seems to be indulging a ludicrous Hugh Hefner-like public fantasy. Anyone who not only boasts of paying for sex but counts his conquests is clearly in need of help for his feelings of inadequacy.

Creepiest of all is Dominique Strauss-Kahn who, even as he pleaded his innocence on French TV, somehow confirmed the view of him which has been so widely publicised: a smooth, bullying man not afraid to use his position to get his own way. There have been few less convincing promises than DSK's solemn pronouncement that, having reflected over the past few months, he has now lost his légèreté – his thoughtlessness – forever.

These adventures, and the way they have influenced the careers of the thrusting public figures at the centre of them, confirm an uncomfortable fact. Politics is closely allied to sex and erotic conquest. In public life, every interview, walkabout or chat-show appearance is part of a process of seduction. Potency and effectiveness in government are associated, in spite of all the scolding and head-shaking, with similar attributes in a person's private life.

Of the four political and economic leaders who have recently had "a real woman problem", it is not the randy and unzipped who are likely to be most severely punished by public opinion, but a President who has avoided scandal, but has allowed rather too much maleness at the White House to go unchecked.





The peril of too much talent



Few sights cause more intense, immediate pleasure to the armchair sportsman than a glaring gaffe by a professional sportsman – a muffed smash in tennis, a dolly dropped in a Test Match, a golfer missing the hole from a foot. So there has been much chortling in the press about the moment when one of the world's greatest strikers, Fernando Torres, contrived extraordinarily to pass the ball wide of an open net, having beaten the Manchester United goalkeeper on Sunday.

The fact that Torres is Spanish, brilliantly talented and not so long ago cost his club, Chelsea, £50m has added to the general air of amusement. It has been said, quite rightly, that a bog-standard English player would have scored in the same position – he would have been too surprised and terrified not to. The Spaniard missed because he was too relaxed, too confident in his own ability. We really don't like that in a player.





The Church's embarrassing fans



In the increasingly bitter war of words between belief and secularism, it seems quite possible that non-believers are using dirty tricks and subterfuge. How else can one explain some of the strange arguments for Christianity put forward by the comedian Frank Skinner in a recent public conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury?

As a Christian, Skinner objects to being associated with Cliff Richard, while atheism is "all about sitting on leather chairs in gentlemen's clubs with Dawkins and Bertrand Russell". He points out, quite rightly, that sneering at belief has become an easy comic routine for alternative comedians.

Yet some of the arguments presented by born-again Frank seem distinctly bizarre. There was too much apologising for the magic in religion – the virgin birth, the resurrection, miracles, the parting of the Red Sea, angels. "Don't give in to them," he told the Archbishop. "If you believe in God, why shouldn't there be angels?"

Dr Williams, a saintly and thoughtful man, must have felt like burying his great bearded face in his hands at this point. Talking to a TV comic was presumably meant to make Christianity relevant and modern. Instead, nightmarishly, he gets miracles and the virgin birth – not what today's Church of England stands for at all.



www.terenceblacker.com

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence