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Williamson: Let's have some sleaze PLEASE!

Byline: Richard Williamson

THERE is something deeply satisfying when a handful of hot, steaming, scandal hits a smug celebrity with a resounding splat!

Of course, we all disapprove of such below-the-belt tactics when it comes to an election.

Yet I can already hear the gloopy sound of mud-slingers preparing their ammunition for this year's smear campaign.

The only problem is that there looks like being a chronic shortage of targets for a decent sleaze offensive.

This is reflected in the increasingly desperate pursuit of Keith Vaz and the re-opening of the assault on Coventry MP Geoffrey Robinson over an issue that is so boring most of us cannot even remember what it's all about.

Wee Willie Hague was himself rapped on the knuckles last week for claiming that his outside earnings were paid to a non-existent charitable trust. But on the scale of serious sins, this ranked alongside 'Please sir, the dog ate my homework'.

He may, however, be encouraged by opinion polls that suggest many people now consider Labour to be even sleazier than the Tories.


Really? Blair's mob may be smarmily self-satisfied and as slippery as a bucketful of eels but, compared with the Tories, they're rank amateurs in the sleaze game.

Who on the Labour benches can compete with jailbird Jonathan Aitken who put the 'con' into Conservative?

Jeffrey Archer is enough of an embarrassment to last any political party for a lifetime. But the Tories also have Neil Hamilton in reserve.

What about cash for questions, money in brown envelopes and all that?

Have we already forgotten that disgraced MP who faced prison for trying to fiddle his allocation of shares when the privatisation boom began?

When it comes to sex, it's definitely a case of Tories on top.

The Conservative Kama Sutra includes Cecil Parkinson and Sara Keays, David Mellor's 'sex in a Chelsea shirt' exploits, Steven Norris's multiple lovers and the peculiar bloke who claimed his teenage companion was exploring the possibility of a Young Conservative Lapdancer Club, or some such nonsense.


It's a fine pedigree that stretches all the way back to Stratford MP John Profumo and his dalliance with Christine Keeler.

But can we rely on a party full of dry Redwoods and weird Widdecombes to maintain the proud Tory tradition of being caught with their trousers down?

If not, where are we going to turn for our next public disgrace?

It could be that New Labourites are simply better at covering up their misdeeds, not to mention their mistresses. But I suspect they really are the bunch of coy, convent-school virgins they seem.

Unless the party spin doctors decide to make mountains out of molehills, it looks as if we might have to listen to Gordon Brown and Michael Portillo arguing over who's best at sums.

Who knows? We might even concentrate on the policies rather than the personalities for once.

But I suspect that scandal, shame and disgrace are lying in wait for someone.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 25, 2001
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