Happily, the U.S. isn’t the only country where hypocrisy in public office rules, as a current embarrassing scandal swirling around England’s Smoke right now underscores.
This particular example originates from London and features the unlikely adventures of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, a Conservative, and Sally, his self-proclaimed ambitious wife.
Last week, Mrs. Bercow, 40, said she planned to go into politics, but revealed that she used to be a binge-drinker in college who enjoyed casual sex with strangers.
After the disclosure, her husband, 46, became embroiled in a controversy of his own regarding whether he penned a very embarrassing and chauvinistic guide to picking up women that recommends a pick-up line involving naming breasts.
A spokesman for the Speaker at first implied that Bercow was the author of the piece, which appeared 1986 in Armageddon, a low-budget conservative magazine said to have a “tiny circulation.”
“This article appeared in a magazine that specialized in being both funny and provocative. It in no way reflects the Speaker’s views today,” the spokesman said, in no way denying Bercow's authorship.
However, Bercow is now contradicting his spokesman’s statements, insisting that he was not the author of a guide that provided methods to lure drunken women into bed, entitled, “The John Bercow Guide to Understanding Women.” Instead, he now maintains that it had been a parody of him written at a time when he was also Tory councilor (chairman) of the Federation of Conservative Students.
"There has been some confusion in media reports about the so-called John Bercow Sex Guide," he said in a written statement. "This article was not written by me but about me, mocking the fact that I was the last person likely to express the sentiments cited in the piece. I made this clear when the story first surfaced in the South London press 23 years ago and am doing again now."
Armageddon is a magazine for young Tories. In the “guide” Bercow reportedly offered a variety of advice on how to pick up drunk girls, how to pick up virgins, and how to get rid of a girl after sex, and included the valuable tip that, "women will settle for anything that breathes and has a credit card."
The further insulting pick-up line was: "If you're free later maybe we could go back to your place and name your breasts."
The guide went on to opine that when a man wanted to be rid of the desperate dipsomaniac, just say: "Don't move, I have just broken a test tube filled with the AIDS virus." Even in the Eighties, when no one understood much about the deadly disease, that “joke” must have been very, very uncomfortable.
Mrs. Bercow’s remarks about long-ago binge drinking and one-night stands appeared in an interview she gave to the London Evening Standard. It has been suggested that her hand might have been forced, that there may have been someone in the background with something incriminating.
However, she has said that the reason she gave the revealing interview was because she's already been accused of being untruthful about her resume – an accusation she denies – and that she's hoping there are no "skeletons" to be revealed that might damage her political ambitions. London pundits have said that her remarks would not have received so much attention if her husband was not hugely unpopular with his Tory colleagues.
Mrs. Bercow said that when she was an Oxford student she drank a lot (“I had no stop button”), and that she continued drinking a lot as a young woman working in advertising in London (bottle at lunch, bottle at dinner, sometimes fell off things).
She said that sometimes in her 20’s she went to bed with men she had only just met at a bar (“I’d think, why not? I liked the excitement of not knowing how a night was going to end”). Occasionally she fell asleep — all that alcohol — and missed her stop on the Tube (underground subway.) She said she, “smoked like a trooper,” and took unlicensed minicabs.
Mrs. Bercow said she stopped drinking entirely in 2000, after a couple of visits to Alcoholics Anonymous, “because it wasn’t fun any more,” and has adjusted her other questionable behavior patterns since.
She added that she wouldn't recommend any of it to her daughters – she'd warn them off using unlicensed minicabs as well, she said.
Astoundingly, Mr. Bercow was sharply criticized by his own party for “allowing her” to give the interview.
--- The Curator