Daily Mail: ‘The woman who is a stripogram, kissogram and a Lib Dem councillor’

And it’s causing ructions in Bideford Town Council in Devon. The full Mail story is here, while the North Devon Gazette’s report is here.

Putting aside the faux-outrage of the Mail’s typical nudge-nudge coverage – complete with large, provocative photos – there are some interesting issues here:

– should the fact that Cllr Bushell operates a sex-line from home preclude her from standing for elected office under the Lib Dem banner?
– did she tell her local party about these activities before seeking election as a Lib Dem?
– how did the Bushells get elected as Lib Dems when not (it seems) members of the party?

This is something of a liberal dilemma – Cllr Bushell is, let’s remember, doing nothing illegal. Yet how comfortable would many local parties be in fielding her as a Lib Dem candidate, knowing it would leave them exposed to such negative publicity?

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41 Comments

  • Geoffrey Payne 26th Jul '07 - 7:46pm

    The difficulty for Liberals with regard to the sex trade is where to draw the line between exhibitionalism and exploitation.
    Sexual exhibitionalism has been an integral part of our culture for a very long time, and as attitudes have changed the exhibitionalist has had to go to greater lengths to shock. Some are more than happy to do so.
    On the other hand, the commercial porn industry are exploitating the poor in the third world, and whilst it is tempting to joke about an article like this, it is nonetheless a shocking industry.
    So put in this context, we would on the one hand want to defend – in the name of freedom – the activities of Cllr Bushell, which includes of course her right to be a Lib Dem cllr, but not support the terrible exploitable of the commercial sex industry. It is a difficult balance, and after our pornography debate a number of years ago, it is not something we are allowed to debate today at our conference.
    Despite the fact the the sex industry is enormous and taking over our culture more and more for every generation.

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 26th Jul '07 - 9:12pm

    What a storm in tea cup. She hasn’t done anything of any harm to anyone.

  • “Cllr Bushell is, let’s remember, doing nothing illegal”

    Nor was Mark Oaten, nor was John Profumo, nor was Cecil Parkinson – though Lord Lambton did smoke pot in Mrs Levy’s bed.

    One the one hand, we shouldn’t penalise people for engaging in lawful activities. On the other, those who enter public life are constrained in ways that ordinary citizens are not.

    I think it would have been courteous for Mrs Bushell to tell the Bideford party what she did for a living, and it would be reasonable if that party had a rule requiring her to do so.

    I am reminded of the case of Gerald Hannon, a college lecturer in Toronto who was fired from his job for (1) moonlighting as a male prostitute (he entertained clients on the floor beneath his fridge), and (2) participating in a pornographic film with a minor (though he did not actually have sexual connection with the minor).

    Hannon lost his job, not because of what he did, but because he insisted on talking about it (at great length) to the media.

    The same is true of Mark Oaten. It was not so much what Oaten did, it was his insistence on talking about it in public that demonstrated his flawed character.

    I hope Mrs Bushell keeps her trap firmly shut.

    The point about the criminal character of much of the sex industry is well made. One could argue that exposing an unexploited sex worker – like Gerald Hannon, or Mrs Bushell – to this kind of prurient/sensationalist publicity gives a false and misleading impression of what is generally a vile and evil trade.

  • Good luck to her. I doubt her electorate (and esp those who voted for her) care one jot about this. Time to stand up to the Daily Mail and tell them that we won’t back down in the face of their unrepresentative moralising.

  • Maybe she should move to Lewes.

  • Hywel Morgan 26th Jul '07 - 10:37pm

    What a pile of rubbish

    A woman has a job in which no laws are broken and in which it is doubtful that anyone is even offended.

    There is the legal sex industry and the illegal sex industry. It is perfectly legal to run a “sex shop”. Would such a person be unsuitable to represent the party? What about a newsagent who sells porn mags?

  • Agree 100% with Hywel. This woman has done nothing wrong and it is only because our society remains somewhat prudish (particularly when reflected through the eyes of the Daily (Hate)Mail) that we’re even talking about this at all.

    I can think of other, perfectly legal, lines of work which I would find far more objectionable than what this lady does for a living. But as a Liberal, I don’t think we should ban even journalists, to take one particularly heinous example, from being our elected representatives.

  • So… the headline is “Two years ago, a woman had a fully legal job”.

    Wow, this really must have been a slow news day. She’s free to do whatever legal work she likes, and she’s free to stand as a Lib Dem Councillor if selected. Should it have been disclosed in advance? *Maybe*, but only because she’d already talked to the press about it, if she hadn’t then it would have been an entirely private part of her private life. It’s for her electorate, not the prudish papers, to make any judgement.

  • Was there not a lady in the Birmingham area who was prevented from becoming a Labour Parliamentary candidate because she had once worked as a prostitute in Paris many years earlier? The fact that she was unrepentant didn’t exactly help her case.

  • Her right to be a councillor comes from a combination of eligibity to stand, and the votes of the people.
    Her right to be a Liberal Democrat councillor comes from being a member of the party and joining the Liberal Democrat group.
    Neither of these is necessarily compromised by her ‘colourful’ job.

  • Gosh, big deal. Councillor in “entirely legal job” shocker. I wonder how many people out there would rather be represented by a strip-o-gram who brings smiles to people’s faces, over an arms dealer who brings shrapnel to people’s faces? Well, Daily Mail readers would probably prefer the arms dealer, which is why so many Tory politicians are in that trade I guess…

    There may well be an issue here of whether she told the local party of her job and why she apparently isnt a member, but neither of those are resigning issues for other cllrs, and I suspect that there is a personality clash at work under this.

    If the Lib Dems cant break this kind of ground in British politics then nobody can, which I would find disappointing.

    As for people ranting about the sex trade, the reason the sex trade is largely a nasty exploitative business is because most of it is underground and run by gangsters. What the trade needs is more regulation, union recognition, and more scrutiny – rather than more sneering.

  • Why is this even an issue? This sort of thing on the much more enlightened continent has been going on for years, and at much higher levels than a parish councillor – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilona_Staller

  • I just read in the Telegraph that three LibDem cllrs have resigned because of this. How sad. One would have thought that being a Liberal Democrat involved being a liberal.

  • “One would have thought that being a Liberal Democrat involved being a liberal.”

    And what planet are you on?Lib Dems will take anyone.I know one Lib Dem Councillor who jumped on the bandwagon opposing a shop selling adult toys with the usual cliches about ‘dirty old men’ etc.Buy a clue…

  • Hywel Morgan 27th Jul '07 - 5:44pm

    “solicitors having to steer clear of planning controversies”

    But we don’t say no solicitors should be Lib Dem councillors, In any case that is a different situation because of the problem that the conflict of interests would create over being seen to put the public interest first.

    The problem comes in defining which jobs “make public service tricky”

    After all, didn’t David Steel have his 10th anniversary as leader bash at Stringfellows nightclub back in the 80s? 🙂

  • She speaks dirty to men (I presume it’s men) who are happy to pay for the privilege. She gets what she wants (money) and they get what they want (some pleasure). No-one gets hurt.

    She isn’t selling missiles, cigarettes, fatty food aimed at children, or SUVs. In each of those cases, someone may well get hurt, but presumably the media wouldn’t care if she was involved in those.

    This is all prudishness. And people need to grow up.

  • David Morton 27th Jul '07 - 7:20pm

    On the available evidence I’d rather have her than the 3 who have jumped ship. Being an anorak i’m more bothered we fielded a non member as a candidate than someone with a perfectly legal job who is harming no one.

  • Last year, a Labour councillor in Ealing (no, won’t name him) was caught downloading hardcore porn on to his council computer. In fact, the silly eejit took the machine into to the Town Hall for repair because the processor had basically ground to a halt. And no wonder! So many dirty pictures had he downloaded that there was virtually no hard-drive space left. The Police had to comb through each individual image (at much public expense). Thankfully, none was of a child.

    The councillor in question was suspended from the Labour Group and had to resign all his posts. At the ensuing election, his constituents gave their verdict.

    I rake this up because this particular councillor had a habit of shouting his mouth off about standards of decorum and anti-social behaviour – his favourite word for miscreants was “scum”.

    Now, if Mrs Bushell was prone to lecturing us on our morals (like Duncan Sandys, say), we could dismiss her as a hypocrite. But I see no evidence that this is so.

    And unlike the Ealing councillor, there is no reason to believe that Mrs Bushell is using Council facilities to assist her business activities.

    The two points at issue, I think, are (1) her non-membership of the party, and (2) her failure to make full, relevant disclosure.

  • “And unlike the Ealing councillor, there is no reason to believe that Mrs Bushell is using Council facilities to assist her business activities.”

    Sorry, it should read: “assist her personal, ie, non-council activities”.

    “his constituents gave their verdict.”

    I should add: “(he was out)”.

  • “his constituents gave their verdict.”

    I should add: “(he was out)”.

    There was no need to worry, Angus, we were probably all assuming that their verdict was that they were happy for him to download porn on his Council laptop!!!

  • Whoops! Now I have to do it! I meant to say WEREN’T, not were – but I am guessing you would all assume… oh, I give up!

  • Bedd Gelert 28th Jul '07 - 8:53pm

    “I hope Mrs Bushell keeps her trap firmly shut.”

    Hmm… Isn’t she being paid £ 1.50 a minute NOT to keep her trap firmly shut ? It’s a nice idea, but I can’t exactly see it happening.

    Good to know that her website emphasises the point that her type of entertainment is not intended to ‘humiliate’ anyone. Apart from one’s political colleagues it would appear.

    I think she should be encouraged to become an MP – it would make a change from Lynne Featherstone on the Westminster Hour.

  • Angus conveniently forgets that in his one term as a Councillor he was embarrasingly revealed as having written a hardcore porn book, which he loudly defended. No question then of “keeping his trap shut”. We had to deselect him in order to help restore our local credibility.

  • Kieron is a liar. I did not write a hard porn book. If I had, I would have been prosecuted. I wasn’t even interviewed by the Police. And the book wasn’t banned from anywhere – not one bookshop, not one public library. Not in any country of the world. No embarrassment, Kieron, just good publicity. (Oh thanks for that publicity, Kieron, it was very welcome.)

    Perhaps Kieron and his chums should look at the average book published in this country and see what it contains. There are Nobel Prize winners who have been far more explicit.

    But plenty of embarrassment for your party, Kieron, when Councillor Bernadette Devine was convicted for her part in a £10 million VAT fraud. Typical Tory activitiy, eh, Kieron?

    (Oh, the fact that Kieron doesn’t give his real name proves he is a coward. Plenty of those in the Tory Party.)

  • By the way. Unlike a certain former Ealing Committee Chair and Parliamentary candidate, I have not a single pornographic image on my hard drive. 2,000 images of Kent, 1,500 of Surrey, 1,300 of Dorset, etc, all of which would have graced Mrs Whitehouse’s mantelpiece.

    Those pictures on that council computer, however. The policeman said they were so disgusting he could hardly look at them – and he had to spend several days at public expense trawling through every single one.

    Usually, Council staff would have covered up for someone so senior. It just so happened in this case, though, that the councillor in question had been a prime mover in the sacking of the Chief Executive. A final act of revenge!

  • Oh, also, Kieron. No-one deselected me. Lie No 2.

  • I love the sign of the times from Stuart that means it is now more socially acceptable to be running a phone sex line than be a second hand car dealer.

    Having known a couple of second hand car dealers that were out and out crooks, this is not before time.. although I still think it would make for amusing dinner party conversation..
    “And what do you do?”
    “Well, I used to sell 4x4s, but now…”

    I am also perplexed about the male prostitute alluded to above who entertained men on the floor below the fridge.. Truly, the mind boggles..

    Also good to see all this brotherly love in the Lib Dems – perhaps they chose it so that they wouldn’t be burdened with the responsibility of ever being in charge of anything.

  • “I am also perplexed about the male prostitute alluded to above who entertained men on the floor below the fridge”

    Perhaps I should have said “in front of his fridge”.

    But “below the cliff” is on the foreshore, isn’t it, not somewhere stuffed into the rock?

    Try this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Hannon

  • Yes re wb above. I note that the comments have stopped after the last response. Are you all so stupid that you only believe what you read in the papers. Someone – wb knows the truth as others of us do. The local officers also know the truth. Was it all legal? No. Selling uncertified made to order videos is an offence. You Liberal Democrats or should I substitute Democrats for Dummies want to get a life and realise that you have been duped by selfish self promoting publicists. Wonder how much they have raked in? £1,000s while those with a bit of guts stand up and walk away from the sleaze. And if you want her for an MP you are welcome to it.

  • wont be voting lib dem in future, absolutely disgusting.

  • this cant have helped old ming could it ? lost control by the sounds of it.

  • 38. yeah right dickhead Tory

  • poor Ming – do you think thats why he retired. If I sse any more pious, poor little me articles I will need a sick bucket.

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