Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Labour is mired in sex and sleaze on an unprecedented scale

But, unlike during the John Major years when the media unremittingly homed in on and cruelly isolated each individual minister, the BBC is content to blame the political system. At least that is the inference from Nick Robinson.

It is not ministers or their partners who are immoral, but the inadequate procedure which permits them to claim £20 for pornographic films and 88p for a bath plug.

One wonders why Nick Robinson did not apply this impeccable logic to the ‘Tory sleaze’ of John Major’s era, and blame ‘cash for questions’ on the easy availability of brown bags.

Cranmer is a little irritated by a claim against the taxpayer for pornography, but he is rather more irked by the incredible level of pedantic pettiness which is evidenced in an 88p claim for a bath plug. The Home Secretary earns £120,000 per annum plus £116,000 for her ‘second home’ and at least all that again in ‘expenses’. Last year her expenses claim was £33,000 more than that of the Prime Minister. So, she owns two houses, lives with her sister, and purchases sinks, plugs, washing machines, dryers, camp beds... cuddly toy, fondue set. And she also employs her husband as a ‘parliamentary assistant’ at a cost of £40,000 per annum.

And they have the audacity to claim 88p from the taxpayer for a bath plug.

There is something distastefully dishonourable about this sort of small-mindedness which begins to tarnish all politicians. The claim of 88p for a bath plug is every bit as immoral as the pornography. Like all senior government ministers, the Home Secretary has a grace and favour house in Belgravia, of which she has decided not to avail herself because she could not thereby enrich her family. If she were to buy a bath plug for her Belgravia abode, she would be perfectly entitled to reclaim the cost of it from the taxpayer. But, importantly for her, when she ceased being Home Secretary she would not own the plug; the taxpayer would. Her little sordid scam is rather neat, for it has not only enriched her and her husband, but also her sister, with whom she apparently resides in London on more nights than she spends with her husband and children in Redditch.

This is possibly, of course, why he needs the pornography.

This episode is not only sleazy: it is squalid, perverse and a gross abuse of the taxpayer at a time of unprecedented financial hardship.

The Home Secretary should be a credible figure on the world stage. In the week of the G20 summit and the coming of the Messiah President Obama, her energies should be focused on issues of communication, security and policing. But she is distracted by pornography and diverted by counting how many nights she has spent at her sister's house.

The Prime Minister is not above all this (except, of course, in Nick Robinson’s mind). For he has stated that the pornography viewed by the Jacqui Smith’s husband is ‘a private matter’.

No, Prime Minister, it is not.

Perhaps what he was doing while he was watching the films is a private matter. But the moment an expenses claim was made and Cranmer was expected to pay for it, the ‘matter’ ceased to be private. And it is not sufficient for the Home Secretary to plead ignorance or blame her husband, for she had to sign her claim personally to declare that the expenses were ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily’ incurred for her duties as an MP.

Perhaps politics and pornography are both egotistically perverse. Politics is arguably more harmful, but pornography is a symptom of a deeper problem. What does it say about the Home Secretary that her husband has to resort to amusing himself with it?

Is she content that he is prepared to support the perception of ‘women as sexual objects’? This would be a little hypocritical, since she has taken a tough stance against the sex industry with a pledge to crack down on ‘lap dancing’ clubs.

She appears to assert that she spends more time with her sister than her children. Is she neglecting her family? Does she work such long hours that she is failing in her marital duties to her husband? Or is she withholding her body from him for other reasons?

Do not those who feel the need to watch pornography lead to deep-seated psycho-sexual problems? It has been called ‘the new crack cocaine’, leading to ‘addiction, misogyny, paedophilia, boob jobs and erectile dysfunction’. Pornography addicts ‘have a more difficult time recovering from their addiction than cocaine addicts, since coke users can get the drug out of their system, but pornographic images stay in the brain forever’. It is also asserted that ‘pornography often leads to more harmful sexually addictive behaviour; eg, compulsive masturbation, fantasy, promiscuity, exhibitionism, soliciting prostitutes and rape. It isolates an individual – making him more intent on satisfying selfish needs even at the expense of his marriage, family, financial stability, and career.’

Men who need to indulge in pornography manifest the underlying problem of an addiction to ‘high intensity pleasure’. They have ceased to find deep and meaningful fulfilment in their personal relationships, and have forgotten (if ever they knew) how to experience pleasure from everyday, ordinary-life situations. They are invariably lonely, even if they do not know it. Quality time with the family is neglected; intimate honesty with one’s wife becomes infrequent. This leads inexorably to emotional suppression the inability to be honest.

The Home Secretary ought to resign – in order to ‘spend more time with her family’.


Blogger The Lakelander said...

Whilst the fact that the Home Secretary's husband, Richard Timney, was watching blue movies adds a certain spice to the story, The Daily Telegraph was right to say, yesterday, that it wouldn't make any difference if he was watching Bambi - it was being shamelessly billed to the taxpayer.

Still, from what I read about Richard Timney, that sofa bed looks like it's going to come in handy for the next few weeks.

31 March 2009 at 07:57  
Anonymous len said...

I believe God is exposing the true nature of the society we live in, and the corruption and the hypocrisy of those who govern us,whether this is government, religious ,or financial circles.
While joe public struggles to survive the'elite' have their snouts firmly in the trough.
The whole rotten system is doing to come down like a house of cards.

31 March 2009 at 08:20  
Blogger Gnostic said...

This story caused more than a little ribaldry in the blogosphere over the weekend. Not so much because the gentleman concerned is suspected of indulging in a little hand relief but because his onanistic pleasures were state subsidised. The audacity is breathtaking.

What actually amuses me is the hunt for the so called "Tory" mole blowing the whistle on these (ahem) abuses. Are the New Labourites so united in this sleazy, snouts in troughs pillaging that it has become unthinkable one of their own should be pricked by a guity conscience or be outraged by such blatant fraudulence?

I think we should be told...

31 March 2009 at 08:23  
Blogger Ann said...

I was amused when the expenses story broke. My attitude was to laugh and think 'it couldn't happen to a nicer person'. By contrast what absolutely infuriated me were the other expenses - especially the 88p for the plug. As a family we are considerably less well paid than the Smith/Timneys but we still regard ourselves as affluent. I would be embarassed to claim 88p for a plug, let alone furnish my family home at my employer's expense.
The woman deserves every bit of obloquy that is coming her way.

31 March 2009 at 08:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Honed in' ? 'Honed in' ! Good grief, Archbishop; your English isn't as good as it used to be.

31 March 2009 at 09:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you were not dead good sir, I would be concerned. Why? Well, how could you possibly know so much about me!

31 March 2009 at 09:56  
Blogger Theo said...

" But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God"
2 Tim 3:1-4 (ANIV)

The whole tenor of public life seems to shout that this prophecy is being fulfilled in our time.

31 March 2009 at 10:08  
Anonymous Joshua Whan Khin said...

There is an old Chinese proverb which says:

Man with hand in pocket feels cocky all day

But there is an interesting observation to made from this situation. These pornographic movies are now widely available and easily accessed by anyone, and also perfectly legal. Had the said master bated his desires by watching the Sound of Music, would there have been as much as a raised eyebrow?

But it can be quite easily seen that there is a large element of shame being both suggested and felt by everyone concerned. So is it not time to question the morality of these movies and their availability, or if not, then do some soul searching here and ask what it is that people have found so objectionable? There will be communicants who already know the answers here, but why is such an obvious paradox of profiteering from such amorality, exploitation and filth, which clearly is not acceptable in the eyes of decency, allowed to continue as a legal exploit, when it can cause such level of 'personal issues' to those who are discovered red handed as it were?

31 March 2009 at 10:15  
OpenID jobtwenteewun1to3 said...

His Grace wrote:
"The Home Secretary earns £120,000 per annum plus £116,000 for her ‘second home’ and at least all that again in ‘expenses’. Last year her expenses claim was £33,000 more than that of the Prime Minister. So, she owns two houses, lives with her sister, and purchases sinks, plugs, washing machines, dryers, camp beds... cuddly toy, fondue set. And she also employs her husband as a ‘parliamentary assistant’ at a cost of £40,000 per annum."

If we could chuck in a cuddly toy at the end of the list, Brucie would say "Didn't she do well????"

31 March 2009 at 10:24  
OpenID jobtwenteewun1to3 said...

doh........ His Grace has beaten me to it re: teddy bear!!!! Note to self: I must read more carefully !!!!!!

Brucie would be proud

31 March 2009 at 10:26  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Citizen Smith’s husband could only have indulged in pornography and (or) masturbation if he has lost faith in the institution of marriage.

The fundamental distinction between male and female and that they shall become one flesh goes back to Genesis. The very definition of marriage flows from that. The prohibitions against adultery, incest, homosexuality, masturbation, abortion and pornography etc. flow from that exclusive union for procreation.

Once that fundamental distinction is erased upon what basis can sexual perversion, for example man boy love, be condemned?

What is interesting about evil is that it feeds on good, by imitating or destroying. For example, Civil Partnerships presume heterosexual marriage.

The destruction of traditional sexual norms is accelerating. In The Brussels Journal it was reported recently that in Holland a man has contracted to marry two lesbians. Homosexuals have been quick to condemn it claiming that Dutch law does not recognise it. Dutch law must recognise a contract based upon Dutch contractual law principles.

Next? A king and two queens?

31 March 2009 at 10:47  
Anonymous Joshua said...

Or, a pair of Queens and a Queen. Or would that be three Kings? Its getting complicated now!

31 March 2009 at 10:52  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Hone/home - His Grace was adopting the vernacular, once again. He is content to amend to 'home in on'

According to one recent conversation:

Question: “For most of my life, the common usage here in the USA was to home in on something. Recently however, I increasingly notice the usage of hone in on instead. I know that English usage changes over time, but it seems that the latter phrase has almost completely replaced the former in a short while. I would appreciate your views on the subject.”

Response: It’s an interesting shift, one so far largely confined to the US, but one we’re actually able to watch as it happens.

The original is from early aeronautics. Pilots were guided to their destinations and back to their home bases by radio beacons. In the jargon of the time — the early 1920s — they were said to home on the beacons. This was clearly taken from the somewhat older expression homing pigeons. In later years, beacons were fitted to aircraft so one could home on another. By this time — around 1940 — home had lost much of its literal association with going home and had taken on the figurative idea of “guiding an aircraft to its target or destination by means of a radio signal”.

The exact expression to home in on began to appear during World War Two. American researcher Ben Zimmer has discovered the earliest known example in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1944: “The Oahu radio was coming in strong. They had left the station on all night so we could ‘home in’ on its frequency.” After the war, people began to use it in the current figurative sense of focusing one’s attention on a single matter.

That’s now the only situation in which most people encounter it. It’s hardly obvious to somebody who hasn’t come across it before or who doesn’t know the background. Why home? This lack of context makes it easy for speakers to change the word into something that seems to be more appropriate or make more sense. Hone in on is a classic example of the type of word shift that has become known in recent years among linguists as an eggcorn: a change in word form due to error or misunderstanding.

In this case, it seems to be the figurative sense of the verb to hone, meaning to sharpen a tool, that has led to the change, since it’s widely used to mean making something work better, for example when we say somebody is “honing her skills”. If you are honing in on a topic, you can imagine people thinking, then you’re improving your understanding of it.

It came to public attention and gained some notoriety when George Bush used it in the presidential campaign of 1980 — he spoke of “honing in on the issues”. He wasn’t the earliest user: George Plimpton wrote about his time with the Detroit Lions football team in Paper Lion, published in 1965; in that book he described a player “looking back for the ball honing in to intercept his line of sight”.

You’re correct in your comment that the shift from home to hone has now gone so far that the latter is on the verge of becoming the usual form, at least in the USA. Some people even assume that the home form is a misprint. There seems little doubt that hone will eventually take over, though it’s impossible to say whether it will spread to other English-speaking countries.

31 March 2009 at 10:56  
Blogger Botogol said...

excellent piece, your grace.

31 March 2009 at 10:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the English language. It allows for such headlines as:

Brown gets Darling to cover Balls with Straw.

31 March 2009 at 11:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your apologia for the use of 'hone in' would be more convincing were it not for your persistent (and refreshingly proper) use of 'shall' rather than the coarse vernacular, 'will'. I admire that correctness, and so was disappointed to see your lapse into the stupid and meaningless 'hone', which is the usage of the ignorant.

31 March 2009 at 11:45  
Blogger ProudGeordie said...

If I were a newspaper editor I would have gone with the headline...

Richard Timney is a W***er!!

Sue me, you would have to prove me wrong!! Does the Schmuck not know you can get much better quality porn over the taxpayer funded Broadband line? He could even have subscribed using his personal credit card so no-one but the bank would ever see the dirty deed occured.

These people are supposed to be running the country? They couldn't run for a bus.

31 March 2009 at 13:07  
Anonymous miserable sinner said...

My ex-husband was addicted to "high-intensity pleasure" and was NEVER satisfied with ANYTHING. Expensive purchases delighted him for a few days or perhaps a week or two in the case of a new car, but he had a deep dissatisfaction with life that could not be remedied.

I think that those with inner emptiness are drawn to pornography, adultery, gambling, extreme sports, overspending, and "family budgeting" that causes their "wants" to be paid for now, while the "wants AND needs" of the spouse and children are endlessly postponed. The void in their soul leads to the pornography rather than the other way around.

31 March 2009 at 18:13  
Blogger ZZMike said...

At last - a chance to comment of something completely irrelevant to the original post!

I refer, of course, to "home in / hone in".

"Home in on" is an obvious usage. From pilots homing in on a beacon, to the drunk after "last call" homing in on his front door, it all makes sense.

"Hone in" clearly does not make sense, and is quite obviously a misunderstanding of the other - a simple case of sloppy language (like many other malapropisms).

anonymous (11:45): "... for your persistent (and refreshingly proper) use of 'shall' rather than the coarse vernacular, 'will'."

"Shall" is in the imperative case ("you shall do this" (or else)); "will" in the simple future tense ("you will go to the store tomorrow" (or perhaps not)).

31 March 2009 at 19:01  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
The really worrying thing to come out of the shenanigans of the past week or so, sink plug et al is that none of the contestants in 'rip off the taxpayer' has had the decency to resign & that the quiz master in No10 hasn't the moral fibre to utter the immortal words "you are the weakest link" or even as Mr Sugar would say,"you're fired!" the desperate clinging on to jobs from Brown down is I'm afraid a sign of the moral bankruptcy of the times. These people are not expected to be perfect, but they should at least feel responsible to set an example, but then on reflection I suppose they are doing so; a bad one.

31 March 2009 at 19:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I predict the image of the 88p bath plug will come to haunt Mrs Timney and crowns will pursue her brandishing same and chanting 'time to pull the plug on you.'
Or at least I hope they will.

31 March 2009 at 20:29  
Blogger Ben said...

I feel strongly that in the interests of fairness, all hardworking families should be entitled to claim a free bath plug from the government.

In fact, the government could set up a department for purchasing bath plugs for distribution to the said hardworking families, which should bring down the unit cost to the taxpayer significantly; or maybe not, depending on the cost of running the department and whether or not it was fit for purpose.

I've submitted a petition to No 10 for a bill to be introduced to provide free bath plugs. I've not yet heard back from them.

31 March 2009 at 21:01  
Anonymous len said...

There is a saying " all but the kitchen sink"
Apparently in the government it could now be "all including the plug!

31 March 2009 at 21:50  
Anonymous judith said...

Ben - your proposal is appallingly discriminatory, as those with shower-cubicles only will not be able to benefit.

Therefore, there would have to be a facility to claim for something similar: may I suggest Government-funded earplugs for those who cannot use a bathplug?

I suggest this because it is the RIGHT thing to do, and I am advising my fellow Leaders to set up a world-wide Bathplug Regulatory System, unlike the Conservatives, who are a Do Nothing Shower.

31 March 2009 at 23:53  

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