As the MPs expenses affair wound down, and the dust settled after the 2010 General Election, a 48 year old man fetched up at London’s Victoria station one evening and made his way to the Gatwick Express platforms. As an incoming train drew into Platform 13, he threw himself underneath it. Only by sheer good fortune did he escape with nothing more serious than cuts and bruises.
The man was Tory MP David Ruffley, who has represented Bury St Edmunds since 1997. He suffered from bouts of depression, and had clearly been in a very dark place for some months, after being accused of abusing the expenses regime, along with the news that he had been passed over for a ministerial post. He was worried that he might face a serious challenge at the following election.
The incident at Victoria station did not go unnoticed: the Mail ran an extensive story on Ruffley, the Telegraph followed suit, as did the Sun. Westminster watchers chipped in: Iain Dale posted on the affair, and Ruffley’s political adversary but fellow depressive Alastair Campbell sent his best wishes and hoped he would get the support he needed in the coming months.
One might also think that, after going for the sympathy vote in his recent fawning Guardian profile (telling that his wife had “some pretty awful Mondays in the office” and on one occasion “she closed the door and cried” after unfavourable comment on his activities), the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog would be equally mindful of others’ mental states.
But that thought would be misplaced, as the Fawkes blog yesterday launched a typically prurient assault on Ruffley, telling scare stories about his supposed bad temper and encouraging his former research assistants to come forward and dish the dirt on the MP. Sixteen of them are named – that any were contacted before the naming is doubtful – and working for Ruffley called “Westminster’s toughest job”.
Ruffley is then castigated as “obnoxious” (this from a blog run by the same person who was caught on camera aggressively effing and blinding outside London Bridge station last year), and it is alleged that “things have become so ‘shouty’ recently that Ruffley has been reported to party whips over his behaviour”. That’s in addition to those things that “Guido hears reports of ... apparently”.
It’s one thing to engage in banter and the odd verbal exchange, but quite another to deliberately pick on someone with a worrying record of severe depression, and for no other reason than for a group of sneering boo-boys to get a cheap thrill out of the whole thing. Ruffley’s recent history is well enough known, and the Fawkes rabble has no excuse for such vicious and deliberate cruelty.
This is the behaviour of a bunch of utter shits. Another fine mess, once again.