Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Is there (political) life after scandal?

Liberal England, Quaequam Blog! and Iain Dale have all been discussing reports that Mark Oaten is trying to rehabilitate himself by giving interviews about the scandal that engulfed him earlier this year. His wife is also going to write an article in Hello!.

He can't be to blame this time!All are in agreement that this is an absurd course of action and I have to agree. Oaten's leadership bid had already collapsed before the scandal originally broke - he had only managed to attract the support of one MP, the backing of death that is Lembit Öpik. An even worse backing of death came with the rumours that Charles Kennedy was discretely trying to drum up support for Oaten to stop Sir Menzies Campbell, and this failed to secure any more public endorsements. Since the previous leader had been brought down by his lack of support amongst his MPs it was a rather embarrassing position to be in when claiming to be able to unite the party and take it forward and so Oaten had been forced out of the contest already.

He performed acts that are too depraved to write aboutThen came the revelations that despite Oaten's attempts to portray himself as a family man, he had engaged in acts that even The News of the World felt were too disgusting to detail. Does the public, especially Oaten's constituents, really want to be reminded of all this? Do the Liberal Democrats really want to have to put up with cat calls of "coprophilliac"? Rather than bringing all this back into the public eye, Oaten would do better to put his nose down to his constituency work and only pop up in the media when standing up for his constituents. Or perhaps he could follow the example of John Profumo and seek redemption through philanthropic work.

Humiliating scandals have engulfed many a politician but no-one is beyond redemption and some, such as Cecil Parkinson, have returned to front line politics so it's not as though a return is unprecedented. But all went through a period of obscurity first, usually waiting until after another general election before returning to the front line. The sole notable exception was Peter Mandelson who came back so fast that he had time to resign again in that Parliament. Who wants to be like Peter Mandelson?

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