On 14 November, 2004, Andrew Porter and Nicholas Hellen wrote an article in the Sunday Times. The subject was Boris Johnson, who had been sacked by Michael Howard from his position on the opposition front bench for lying about an extra-marital affair. When questioned about accounts of his activities in the tabloid press, Johnson described them as ‘an inverted pyramid of piffle’.
Johnson is not the first, and will not be the last politician to come unstuck as a result of sexual peccadillos. Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister for six years in the middle of the prudish 19th century, was known as ‘Lord Cupid’ because of his amorous adventures; Sir John Major, who followed Margaret Thatcher into No 10, famously enjoyed romps with Edwina Currie (immortalized in a wonderful cartoon by Gerald Scarfe). I would add that adultery is a sufficiently common and damaging temptation, that even Moses, more than 3,000 years ago, found it necessary to devote one of his commandments to an edict forbidding it.
The issue was that Johnson lied about it to his boss. Michael Howard, was potentially the Prime Minister of this country, and Johnson would have been a minister in his government.
It is said that John Profumo’s greatest sin, which made his resignation and disgrace inevitable, was not so much having sex with Christine Keeler who was also sleeping with a Russian diplomat, but lying about it to Parliament. Our entire justice system would collapse if it could not be assured that the majority of people would tell the truth in court, when called to do so.
Boris may be an amusing person, a clever scholar and lively and interesting writer, but how, given his track record, can he possibly be trusted to run the country?
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs