Huhne – human frailty and the family

It’s been quite a day. The news from Southwark Crown Court this morning was breathtaking.

Having interviewed Chris Huhne with other bloggers when he was striving for the Lib Dem leadership, I found him to be a good Liberal and a clever, well-read man. I campaigned for him.

But today I couldn’t help think of a few things in connection with his sad political demise – which probably qualifies as a “tragedy”, given that it seems to have been brought about by some personal weakness on his part.

The first thing which sprang to my mind was the motto I try to live my life by, repeated many times by my father, who also lived by it:

Honesty is the best policy

The corollary to that being:

Beware your lies will find you out

Also, my grandmother’s admonition springs to mind:

You’re so sharp, you’ll cut yourself one day.

I have also been reminded of the startling paralells between the cases of Chris Huhne and Jonathan Aitken (although without the “simple sword of truth” in the former case).

I recall (as someone who, about ten years ago, was on nine points on my licence) some advice from a good friend:

If you don’t want to lose your licence then don’t break the speed limit.

-Startingly simple advice, but wise all the same. I took it.

But we can all be smug and wise after the event.

What we have here basically is a tragedy which has caused enormous hurt and distress to people close to Chris Huhne, his family.

I have great sympathy for them all. But there are certainly lessons we can all learn here. And many of them are the sorts of lessons we heard from our parents and grandparents.

As legal proceedings are currently taking place, personal comments about either Vicky or Chris won’t be published at least until the trial has concluded and then only if they’re in accordance with our published comments policy.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Roger Roberts 4th Feb '13 - 5:49pm

    He/She who seeks revenge must dig two graves.

  • Helen Dudden 4th Feb '13 - 6:23pm

    I agree a very sad day for all in the family. It is always easy after the event, never during it. That too, is something we all have to learn.

  • Stuart Mitchell 4th Feb '13 - 6:24pm

    Wise words. On the subject of the original ofence, it is worth noting that Huhne had far less reason to fear losing his license than most of us do. No worries about being unable to do his job or get about- we all know how wealthy Huhne is, and employing a driver for a few months would have been a minor inconvenience to him. One can only marvel at the hubris which led him to make the decisions he did.

  • Stuart Mitchell 4th Feb '13 - 6:27pm

    “I agree a very sad day for all in the family.”

    I’m sure they are all very sad. But given what we are learning now about his son’s text messages, it seems likely that at least some of them are probably feeling rather relieved that Huhne has come clean at last.

  • I don’t think it is sad for Huhne himself. I feel lied to, as should anyone who trusted him. It is another nail in the coffin lid of the perception of a trustworthy Parliament, and for that he owes significant apologies to those hard working MP’s of all parties who are honest.

    He broke the law and was caught. It wasn’t a huge criminal issue, it was a resigning matter and should have been admitted at the earliest opportunity. Instead he cost the country thousands in preparing a prosecution whilst still wriggling to avoid justice. He may in time make the sort of apology that warrants an element of pity – it hasn’t been made yet.

  • Kevin Colwill 4th Feb '13 - 10:41pm

    Today’s admission has shown Huhne to be a self serving liar. The fact that you might like his stance on this or that political policy should be neither here nor there.

    He’s not the first politician to be shown up as slightly grubby and well overdue some harsh lessons in humility and he won’t be the last. He’s just another tiny rust spot on a badly tarnished political system.

    I don’t feel any sorrow for Huhne. I just pity the poor sods who go out on the doorsteps and try to portray the Lib Dems as somehow morally superior to the other parties… if they didn’t need a new script before they’ll certainly need one now.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Feb '13 - 10:49pm

    It’s such a common story – politician does something personally embarrassing, tries to cover it up by telling lies, and then tells deeper lies to cover up the first lies. The result is that what would have been something that could have been lived with and probably almost forgotten in months becomes a huge career-ending thing. If the man had any sense at all, he ought to have realised it was bound to end up like this, but he’s hardly the first.

  • Steve Walsh 4th Feb '13 - 10:54pm

    When will we learn that you can’t do what you want to. You can pull together as much as you like but the electorate won’t like falsehoods which is what we’re selling them

  • Ed Shepherd 4th Feb '13 - 11:01pm

    I just don’t get it. People like Chris Huhne and David Laws get these fabulously expensive educations. They get all sorts of doors opened for them and they get ushered into jobs that will never be available to the vast majority of people. We get told that the incredible fortunes they make in business mean that they are the masters of the universe and that we should elect them. Then they get themselves embroiled in lies that are obviously going to come out in the end. They fall out with their families and make fools of their supporters. Are these people really clever? Are they really deserving of our votes? Is it time to start electing the kind of politicians that used to be around when I was a kid: manual workers, ex-military types (like the ship’s stoker who got made prime minister), the odd aristocrat? Remember the days that are now scorned as “beer and sandwiches at Number 10”? Maybe those days were better than the days now where we have politicians who are so steeped in living the high life that there seems to be no lie they won’t tell in order to hang onto power?

  • Ed
    Those politicians you speak about lacked vision and Britain went into economic decline as a result.
    It is necessary to have people of the highest integrity at all levels in society.It is not just a question of
    having more good blokes (and blokesses) but getting back to something that has been lost
    in the sporting arena and in other areas of our national life, gentlemanly conduct is now an alien concept.

  • Manfarang – are you really trying to say that Chris Huhne, David Laws, and others in other parties have more or better vision than some before them? Are you saying that Britain is not “in decline” now?? And anyway, there were various MPs who were dishonest in the 60s and 70s. What is needed is an end to the “Greed is good” Thatcher / Mandelson philosophy, so that it can be seen and identified clearly that such behaviour is unacceptable.

  • I feel sorry for the kids. Ok I know the text messages from his son Peter became part of the prosecutions case and once read out became a matter of public record. But I do wish the media would stop trawling over them constantly.

    The Children where innocent bystanders in all this, caught up in a sordid state of affairs between their parents. That must have been extremely emotionally difficult for his son Peter. It is never nice to see a parent/child relationship crack in this way. I do not think it is necessary for the media to keep gloating over that side of the story.

    Huhne is the wrongdoer in all this and the buck should stop with him for which he must face the consequences

  • Matt

    Yes absolutely agree with you.

    “the text messages from his son Peter became part of the prosecutions case and once read out became a matter of public record”

    On Radio 4 this morning, they discussed this issue. Apparently Huhne could have asked the judge to keep the text messages secret to protect his son’s privacy or at least to only release the texts which were relevant and not some of the others which in my opinion, should have remained private. Yes they may be ‘very interesting ‘ to some but I don’t think those later texts were in the public interest and made uncomfortable reading.

    I think Huhne was too distracted by his own fate to think about asking the judge for this privacy. Even had it been refused, it would have shown that Huhne had his son’s welfare on his mind. Sadly I have never felt that he has considered his children at all and that is one if the most disappointing things about him.

  • Old Codger Chris 5th Feb '13 - 11:13am

    I agree with Ed Shepherd’s comment except where he writes that “they get themselves embroiled in lies that are obviously going to come out in the end”. We only learn about the lies which do come out. Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken almost got away with it. Perhaps Huhne’s biggest mistake was walking out on his wife and family.

  • “Perhaps Huhne’s biggest mistake was walking out on his wife and family.”

    Or maybe it wasn’t what he did but the way in which he did it.

    That also applies to how he dealt with the accusations – if he’d just held his hands up right at the outset and said ‘I was an idiot but I ‘m not going to lie. I did something stupid’ I think he would probably have retained many people’s sympathy.

  • Helen Dudden 5th Feb '13 - 9:26pm

    It is obvious to anyone that has dealings with a relationship breakdown and the fallout in such matters. The family are very unhappy, and should not be dragged into the limelight.

    Relationships breakdown for what ever reason. If he was your next door neighbor it would not be the same. The newspapers are being simply unfair, to those concerned.

    Speeding, and making a foolish decision, that is what this it about.

  • Helen Dudden 10th Feb '13 - 12:03pm

    A totally destroyed family unit, I am surprised by the outcome, and very saddened for the son who has been so upset by the revelations.

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