Mark Oaten and a sewer rat named Murdoch
I cannot say that I was ever a fan of Mark Oaten. I felt that if he became leader, he along with his Orange Book pals would lead the Liberal Democrats further to the right. Now he has fallen from grace with his career shattered
I think that in his private life, Oaten has been foolish. He was not the first and he won't be the last. Why he put himself up for leader with such a skeleton in his cupboard is quite beyond me. Frankly, there was no way he could continue as Lib Dem spokesman on Home Affairs.
And yet, I feel a certain sympathy with Oaten. Flawed he clearly he is, but I sense a man with much human decency. I hope he is able to save his marriage and recover a decent family life. I hope there will be good times for him in the future.
For when I read the story on the internet yesterday, I was aware that there was a much bigger villain. Oaten had already stepped down as a candidate for his party leadership and rightly so, but he was still regarded as no more than a meal ticket for the staff of a newspaper who cared not about the lives of Oaten's daughters, girls whose innocent lives they had no constraints about destroying.
The News of the World, which as I posted a week ago, used entrapment to get a cheap story on the England football manager, in their article on Oaten which can be found on their site (I can't bring myself to link to it) used every salacious detail they could get their hands on. The fact that Oaten had had an affair with a male prostitute (the term 'rent boy' seems to imply something that is inappropriate given that the man in question is 23) was not enough for them. Every possible twist of the knife was given to the story. After all, to the News of the World proprietor Rupert Murdoch, sales to perverts who put more money in his bank, are so much more important than the tears of primary school girls. I had thought that Murdoch's papers had got as sick as it is possible to be but oh was I wrong!
Now back to calling the readers of the News of the World 'perverts', I guess that I ought to explain myself. This is a newspaper which has as its sole raison d'etre, a desire to enter the bedrooms of others, famous and unknown. The more intrusive the details, the hapier Murdoch and co are. Of course, they play the censorious role. Readers are encouraged to feel superior to those whose lives are destroyed on the altar of the dreadful Rupert whose influence on journalism has been that of a sewer rat. If the Pharisees of the Gospels were rather censorious, Murdoch's editors are the High Priests of moralising, sanctomonious hypocrisy!
A quick scan of the News of the World website can be guaranteed to offer opportunities to tut tut about the realtionships of others. This week, you can read of the low libido of a well known actress (well at least according to her former partner) and the explosive sexual appetite of a Celebrity Big Brother contestant ( again according to a former lover). Get it? If you have had a sexual realtionship with someone in the public eye, Rupert offers you the chance to get on the gravy train by sharing confidences about aomeone you once cared about, with a couple of million readers. This is the most shaming prostitution of all.
I can't help thinking that News of the World readers would be well advised to concentrate on their own relationships and love lives rather than looking through the keyhole at others. After all voyeurism has a habit of dragging its practitioners down. The very criticisms that are often made regarding gazing at pronography are also true of voyeurism, News of the World style. A depravity can easily ensue. And if that were not to be so, reading the News of the World can hardly be construed as a victimless crime. After all, it is the existence of readers that enables the destruction of lives as well as the self damage of feeling dirty.
Meanwhile our politicians behave like shivers lokking for a back bone to crawl up when it comes to Murdoch. They fear that they might be his next victims. Oh for someone to stand up to this runt of a man! Or will they forever prostrate themselves before the man who made two young girls cry?