“Bankers, wankers, or spankers?” would be the crude though appropriate response when members of George Osborne’s press office pick up the phone to answer enquiries these days.
The last of these is my tacky reference to the re-surfacing of allegations by a former dominatrix Natalie Rowe that she snorted cocaine with the current Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was 22 back in 1994. The two are pictured in the now-notorious photo which heads this post.
Osborne has vehemently denied the drug-taking accusation since it emerged in 2005 when he was masterminding David Cameron’s campaign for leadership of the Conservative Party.
More recent embellishment of the story has dragged in elements of the phone hacking scandal and the role of Andy Coulson, first as editor of the News of the World and later as Cameron’s communications chief.
The British finance minister – either directly or through friends – holds the whole controversy a smear and a pack of lies.
Mistress Pain – as Rowe once titled herself – is piqued that her phone may have been hacked (a law suit is pending) and that Osborne denies the nature of their acquaintance nearly 20 years ago.
Whatever the truth Osborne has had no alternative but to deny the allegations. If true and he admitted to the fact it would have likely killed his political ambitions stone dead.
The wider issue is whether a youthful indiscretion – albeit one in which a banned substance was inhaled – should alone bar anyone from seeking high political office.
Established politicians seem to weather the storm when they are caught wandering from the marital bed and only a handful have been severely punished for fiddling their expenses when MPs have done so in their hundreds.
Certainly incompetence doesn’t seem to be an obstacle nor does a cavalier approach to the truth. I wonder how many of our best brains are lost to politics altogether because of a particular skeleton they would prefer kept in their cupboard.
It’s no wonder that the crop of new MPs is for the most part an anonymous bunch, the selection process having weeded out any individuals.
Of course there are some offences which are unforgivable and might be summed up as behaviour harmful to others. But when the damage is to oneself as in drug-taking, the miscreant’s age and subsequent repentance should be regarded as character building and not necessarily an irredeemable flaw.