Paul Staines, William Hague and questions for bloggers

Allegations have recently been posted on Paul Staines’ blog Order Order (where he blogs under the pseudonym Guido Fawkes) about a relationship between William Hague and one of his special advisors, Christopher Myers.

These allegations have led to Myers resigning from his post and to the Hague’s releasing a full and frank statement which include revalations they would, I’m sure, have rather remained private about the problems they’ve had in their attempts to start a family.  The allegations have been categorically denied by William Hague.

We at Lib Dem Voice wish both the Hagues and Christopher Myers well.

Claims are often made for the superiority of the blogosphere over the mainstream media – not least by Paul Staines himself.

None of us are perfect, and none of us meets the standards we’d like to every time.  This may be a good opportunity for political bloggers to reflect on where we’re falling short of those standards and how we can improve.

We frequently criticise poor journalism.  With people’s private lives and careers now hanging  in the balance, poor blogging should surely face the same scrutiny.

Update: my colleague Stephen Tall has a slightly different take on this story that should be read.

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36 Comments

  • Actually, this is an excellent result thanks to good blogging. Myers was going to pocket 30 grand for services rendered when good public servants face cuts in pay or unemployment thanks to your government.

  • Surely the real issue is – with Hague having to take responsibility for 25%-40% cuts in the FCO budget – hundreds (thousands?) of properly qualified public servants will shortly be made redundant, through no fault of their own.

    In that light, “minor” misjudgements like recruiting unqualified acquaintances to the public payroll should be exposed for what they are. Hague’s statement is astonishing, and I cannot help feeling it’s a bit of misdirection – along with the timing of it all,it being Blair’s Book day.

    More power to Guido’s elbow.

  • Criticism over Myers role is fine, although I have not enough information to know if it is merited or not.

    The insinuations of homosexuality and marriage trouble based on that is just gutter press of the lowest kind, based on absolutely nothing.

  • Their sexual orientation isn’t the point at all – and this entire story is at risk of being drowned in the sex scandal side without real attention being paid to the part that matters.

    The real point here is – did Hague hire a completely unqualified driver (whatever relationship they had – friends, lovers, etc) to work as a special advisor to the foreign office? *This* is the point that was barely addressed in this statement – his denial of what is essentially a side point about them having sexual relations almost seems like it’s being used as a smokescreen.

    I have no reason to doubt Hague’s claims of their problems conceiving, and I wish them the best of luck in that respect, but people need to stop focussing on the sex scandal side of this story and start asking questions about how Myers got that job in the first place. At a time when the entire country is being told to tighten their belt, an accusation that Hague is hiring unqualified friends to work at taxpayers expense is a serious one and should be examined further.

  • Of course your Con Dem Nation Government was right to spend £30,000 a year on Mr Myers. Poor old William who could not afford his own bedroom despite the books, lectures and cabinet salary

  • One Laws for one, one law for another.

  • @Chris

    100% agreed. Just as with the Laws issue, homosexuality is being used as a smokescreen. New politics my derriere. No surprise that LibDems, now in office, defend the indefensible.

  • I wonder if some of those commenting above have visited Staines’s blog to check how much of his blogging addressed the professional suitability of Myers to his role, and how much was tittle-tattling insinuation regarding sexuality?

  • The issue has been blown by Guido and the press as being one of Hague’s alleged bisexuality. Those who post claiming this is used as a smokescreen are wilfully forgetting this.

  • #dom “Hague appointed him because spads are political positions and the rules clearly allowed hague to appoint him”

    The expenses rules allowed for MPs to claim for duckhouses and moat-cleaning. Doesn’t mean these things were morally justified.

    Likewise at a time of 700,000+ public service redundancies coming down the road, Ministers must be brought to book for appointing unqualified acquantances (of any sexualty or gender, or whatever the nature of their relationship) at public expense.

  • paul barker 1st Sep '10 - 8:42pm

    Comments 2,3,5 & 6 are a great illustration of why I dont wish Labour well. Scatch beneath the PC surface & New Labour are just like Old Labour, a bunch of thugs & bigots.

  • @paul barker

    One day you will wake-up, and realise that the LibDems have gotten into bed with the biggest bunch of bigots. Remind me again what Glegg used to say about the Tories EU partners.

  • My post seems to have been moderated out! Apologies for blowing my top. Id like to repeat the bit where I said that its high time someone started rooting through staines’ bins. Sergio – your clear hatred of homosexuals isn’t even veiled!

  • Paul Barker what a lot of nonsense, every pun there intended there. But come on now, your being a bit of a drama queen with your final comments.

  • What this shows is that the gutter press — and, more and more, the mainstream press — have found that the best way to give play to stories that are really about the completely irrelevant private lives of politicians is to dress them up with an alleged financial scandal or other impropriety which creates the impression that this muck-snuffling has something to do with the Public Good, rather than being an indecent rummaging around in other folks’ drawers.

    I have no interest in knowing about Hague’s relations with his wife, or his drivers, any more than I care to count the fingers and toes of David Cameron’s latest offspring. These matters are irrelevant to politics. If people want their fill of real or made-up scandals about private lives, they have soap operas and the Royal Family.

    At least I have not had to hear any nonsense about David Laws’ private life for a while. The one thing I would like to know about him, however is: when is he coming back to government?

  • When Labour supporters start to applaud right-wing blogs (whose followers think Labour supporters are less than pondlife), it’s indeed a strange world.

    As a reminder: threads on either Guido’s or Dale’s blog (forget which) recently contained some really vile comments about Sally Bercow.

    Or how about a couple of years back, when Staines was running that “is Gordon Brown bonkers?” thing? (Which was grossly offensive to anyone on the autistic spectrum, apart from anything else).

  • @Cassie

    But these are the type of people that you have gotten into bed with. I detest the likes of Staines and his ilk. But I must admit I do like the odd bit of schadenfrude, whatever the source.

  • >But these are the type of people that you have gotten into bed with.

    Never in a million years. Any more than David Milliband is in bed with Dennis Skinner. I was dreading the thought of a Tory government with a big majority (or a continuation of Labour).

    These are the types of people I’m hoping a Lib Dem- ‘wet’ Tory coalition can marginalise. Which we couldn’t do in opposition. (OK, we didn’t get the number of MPs we needed to do it as well as I’d like, but that’s electorates for you).

    I reckon the reason Cameron was so keen to do a deal with us was so that he could ignore his right wing.
    The fact his line on Europe isn’t the nutter-appeasing one it had to be when he needed their support would seem to be evidence of that.

    The fact the Tory right are picking on Hague is probably down to him not being ‘their sort of Tory’.

  • @Cassie

    You don’t seem to get it. Cameron is only a front. Those with the real power and influence like to be in the shadows. I would question the role of someone like Aschroft in this. I would hazard a guess that his relationship with Hague is not as good as before Ashcroft’s Non-Dom status was revealed.

  • allentaylorhoad 2nd Sep '10 - 12:09am

    “When Labour supporters start to applaud right-wing blogs (whose followers think Labour supporters are less than pondlife), it’s indeed a strange world.”

    “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” (Old Chinese and Arab proverb)

  • It is amazing to see how much support there is for a fellow con lib colleague. I agree, the question is not the sexual preferences of a person, as this is no problem or should not be for anyone. The question is to ask why a driver suddenly becomes an extra expert paid for my the cuts in pensions and welfare payments. The same problem existed with david laws. It was not his sexuality that was the issue,but the question of alleged fraud in claiming expenses. Do not let the message get lost. People cannot do savage cuts and then spend wildly.

  • @ Pat Roche

    Just a minor quibble, being gay isn’t a “preference”. This term “sexual preference” implies you have a choice, which gay people don’t – they are attracted only to the same sex.

    MInor linguistic quibbles aside, what about the fact that Laws didn’t benefit financially from concealing his relationship and could have claimed more had he been open about it? That was the key point, but it was deliberately ignored. This, I believe points to the homophobic nature of the treatment he received. The substance of the issue – whether he lied about his circumstances in order to maximise his payments, which he didn’t – was deliberately sidelined.

  • I am not sure anyone should be taking lessons from Labour about the amount of money spent on Special Advisors.

    Does anyone remember who Margaret Beckett had has her SPAD when she was Foreign Secretary. I imagine a lot of posters positions would have been reversed.

  • robert c. Thanks yes you are right in your challege of my use of the word preference. Thanks for that. I agree. With regard to the second point, the only way to have made it ok would be if laws had charged the taxpayer nothing. Then nothing would have been said. i agree it is a shame that people feel they have to hide however that is not the issue

  • But Pat, he WAS entitled to claim even more than he did, if only he had had the courage to declare his relationship with his partner. So to say the only way it would have been OK is to claim nothing is NOT true. You are just plain wrong there.

    He could have registered his partner and claimed even more. But he didn’t. That is the point.

  • Those questioning the suitability of Myers to the role seem to have no idea what sort of people end up being Special Advisors in the first place. David Cameron was only 26 when he became a Spad, I know of a number of people who became SpAds shortly after university. Experience and Technical knowledge are provided by the civil service, not Special Advisors who offer ideological purity and loyalty.

    So while some will try to dodge accusations of homophobia by trying to claim that Myers was unsuitable to the role, any fair scrutiny of that position will prove it lacking. Those pretending their crusade against Hague is anything more than a petty spat fuelled by homophobia are either liars, ignorant, or easily manipulated.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Sep '10 - 12:25pm

    Baal

    Surely the only question that really matters is whether one believes Hague’s denial.

    If one does, then obviously it follows that this is all a despicable smear and so on and so forth.

    If one doesn’t, then he’s guilty of serious misconduct and he’s not entitled to immunity from the consequences because the alleged affair was with another man and it would therefore be “homophobic” to criticise him.

    I still don’t understand why on earth he is supposed to have shared a hotel room with Myers – especially after listening to Tim Montgomerie on Newsnight last night, going on about how much he had suffered as a result of years of rumours about his sexuality. He really must have suffered a “moment of madness” when he booked the room.

    And I must say it’s a bit rich for Hague’s apologists to cry “homophobia”! Am I really the only one who remembers Hague’s homophobic gibes against the then government when he was leader of the opposition? He who lives by the sword, and all that …

  • @Robert C

    It is a falsehood to claim that Laws could have claimed more. A falsehood perpetuated by LibDems, in the hope that they can fool us, in order to ease his return.

    Under the rules MPs were not allowed to pay a partner for accommodation. This is what Laws did, and this is the reason he was forced to resign. His sexuality was not the issue. It was only made an issue by his supporters, in order to elicit sympathy.

  • @jayu, yes but if he has put his name on the mortgage for the property with his partner then he could have claimed the mortgage interest and that would have been more than he did claim. So he claimed less in order not to have to have to do this, yes he did it in the wrong way and against the rules but it was certainly NOT done to make more money.

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