So yesterday, Foreign Secretary William ‘Ague moved to quash rumours over his sexuality, and put the innuendo away for good. And did he succeed? Well, for a few hours, maybe he did. But on my reckoning he is now in a far weaker position than before, with the possibility of the press pushing the nuclear button yet higher.
Last weekend, with rumours suggesting that maybe two national newspapers were about to splash Master ‘Ague all over their front covers, a statement emerged from a “Senior Cabinet Minister” suggesting that legal action was likely to follow publication. No story appeared, but it was rather obvious that ‘Ague was the minister concerned.
Everything went quiet – well, for a day or so. But then, hackery and blogosphere were soon at it again, the situation for the Foreign Secretary not helped when the special advisor at the centre of the storm, Christopher Myers, resigned, citing media intrusion into his family life.
Only after this did Master ‘Ague make his statement, telling of his wife’s many miscarriages, that he was fed up with the rumours, and telling that he had never had a physical relationship with “any man”. Some were sympathetic, although it was generally agreed that sharing a hotel room with Myers was not one of ‘Ague’s wisest moves.
Young Dave has given ‘Ague his support, but that will not survive a suitably well researched attack by one of the Sundays. Consider these three points:
One, Myers’ resignation appears strange, if there has been no impropriety.
Two, the threat of legal action has been shown to be baseless.
Three, now that ‘Ague has categorically denied any homosexual activity, the incentive for the press includes the additional potential of demonstrating dishonesty.
Which papers might be on his case? Of the Sundays – and it’s a Sundays kind of story – the Screws, Mail On Sunday, and Maily Telegraph On Sunday are the obvious suspects. If any or all of them has a decently researched file of material, together with a few sworn affidavits, the temptation for their editors to press the Fire button and send their lethal missile on its way may prove overwhelming.
The Fourth Estate is not inclined towards sympathy or sentimentality towards those that Robin Day memorably – and rightly – described as “here today and gone tomorrow politicians”. It was thus with so many Tory politicians in the 90s. If Master ‘Ague has been less than totally honest with party and electorate, it will be the same with him.