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"we also learnt that he urinates on his compost heap to accelerate the decomposition process"

So not just the Party then...

we also learnt that he urinates on his compost heap to accelerate the decomposition process.

Urgh. That is just gross.
Waaaaay to much info, Francis.

Its a sick though...cant he be done for public exposure? Give him as ABSO and keep him away from all compost heaps in the country...Save Our Compost Heaps!

It's a measure of how old I must be that I find hypocrisy one of the very worst traits of politicians. It underlines just how much of what they say to us is complete bs, delivered solely to curry electoral favour- eg Prezza's appalling speech about morality at the 1996 Conference.

I won't mention any Tory politicians in case Ed moderates me.

Was thinking the same James. The neighbours must be shocked.

Editor: I know this is boring (and probably against blog etiquette) but I agree 100% with your comments. Both aspects of private behaviour matter--but need to be kept in proportion.

I'd be surprised if young Maude's neighbours can see into his garden. I mean, I hope he don't live in a ruddy suburban semi, eh?

I am more interested in Clarke allowing criminals back onto our streets.


Personally I would have added the point that adultery etc reflect badly on someone's character - something which we should have high standards for with people bestowed with so much responsibility, but the general analysis is astute.

Your propositions are excellently put. It is no good on the one hand for politicians to suggest their private lives are out of bounds - when they use their private lives as examples of how others should live theirs. If we are told that to receycle or indeed to be good neighbours is virtuous - then how an elected politician acts in such a situation is indeed relevant.

I am fascinated by the view that indifference is worse than hypocrisy. I too want politcians to care and to want to do the right thing, and its that kind of conviction that I think should be admired. For me I feel let down when politcians do the wrong thing - but can forgive them. I somehow feel less able to forgive those who time and time again seem to suggest do as I say and not as I do.

We certainly need to be proportionate in response to private failings - and I think this is a lesson the media could learn. Am I bothered that politicians have affairs - no in the sense that many people do - and why should we expect our legislators to be any less human. What does annoy me is when there is a perceived abuse of power, or indeed a repeated (and that's important) lack of judgement. Then I have to question is their judgement is so poor in that respect - what other aspects may it be failing in.

But Two S....s little peccadillo wasnt exactly private, was it. It seems M on S will reveal they indulged? in his office, used Gov property to s..g in, Ministerial car?? What else?? Woman's hour the other morning had Edwina Currie and another (forgotten - dont get old ) and they stated that the main aphrodisiac was power!! Hmmm! and heres me, thinking Prezzar was just a joke figure anyway

Thanks for that lovely mental image Annabel...theres any hope of a good night's sleep gone!

Everyone has their faults but there are many millions of people (Tony Blair for example) who DON'T commit adultery and do stay faithful to their wives or husbands. Indeed, those ruling over us should aspire to higher standards so as to set a good example. I don't expect perfection but there are certain standards below which politicians should not fall. No wonder they are held in such contempt.

It is notable during the Victorian period that hypocritical politicians were genuine ashamed of their hypocrisy and would agonise in their diaries about how they were betraying values they genuinely believed in.

Without wishing to be accused of prudery, may I suggest that our rulers start to behave themselves and abide by common standards of decency. Despite the advent of a more liberal society since the 1960s, opinion polls show that the majority of the public (the younger generation especially) believe that adultery is wrong.

Agree with Richard: ""I suggest that our rulers start to behave themselves and abide by common standards of decency.""
Besides, if a politician can betray his wife as readily and as long as Prescott evidently did, then what loyalty can the country at large expect?

Hrrrm, £100,000 is flashed and all of a sudden she comes up with lurid stories, sex in the office etc. What a surprise.

Of course, tabloids like the Mail have never bothered much about the truth. They're just as addicted to trash as the other comics masquerading as newspapers.

I think Francis Maude thought he was speaking the public's mood. But I'm not so sure he is. I think alot of people saw those pictures of John Prescott with his shirt half hanging off and thought, "hang on, is this how the Deputy Prime Minister should be behaving? And we're not even allowed to question this?"

I am very concerned that this "private morality is private" stuff is actually just the quick road towards barbarism and the worst kind of amoral society.

While focusing political debate on (probably invented) sexual escapades is of course, entirely dignified. Trash culture is one of the worst aspects of modern Britain - sex is a private thing, and should remain so. This "story" is no different than publishing pornographic pictures on the front pages.

If his wife wants to leave him (and I hope she does), then that is her business alone. What conceivable hurt has been done to society by this possible end result? Abstracting and speculating on possible social harm is nothing more than collectivism by extention, attempting to justify individual prurience by rooting it in some imagined social order.

Interesting discussion.Personally I am strongly influenced by politicians character almost as much as I am by policy.The reason I loathe Tony Blair so much has more to do with the fact that he is a liar as much as any policy failings of his government.Conversely I find myself very sympathetic to Ken Clarke as I perceive him to be an honest man despite the fact that I wholly dislike his attitude to Europe.

This thread raises an even more fundemental set of questions about root causes of political issues and the futility of debating them if the root causes are not acknowledged. Many of those root causes result from Gvernment action and are not 'Acts of God'

What is the point of debating crime, violence, child poverty - if much of it results from a government inspired welfare and benefits culture.

What is the point of lamenting the erosion of individual responsibility when government interference hands regulation to the State.

What is the point about agonising about climate change and all the problems of declining resources-energy - water - road space etc - when government policy is to encourage massive population growth (largely through immigration)

Too much Government is now the problem , not the solution - and we should say it more often.

I agree with the editorial above. Politicians cannot have it both ways; if they want us to look up to them when it suits them, such as when they cycle to work or set up a charity, then they need to make sure their private life will bear up to scrutiny. "Never do in private what you would not be prepared to defend if it were made public", should be the way any public figure conducts himself.

I was sorry to read one contributor above who wished that Mrs Prescott would leave her husband. I do not share that, and I hope they will come through their present difficulty. We sometimes forget that they are human beings, not super-human. That said, he fell from grace and has to take the flack.

"Trash culture is one of the worst aspects of modern Britain - sex is a private thing, and should remain so. This "story" is no different than publishing pornographic pictures on the front pages."

Hear hear, although I too hope they work things out in their marriage. It's their business and not ours.

Some of England's greatest leaders have been utter scoundrels. Good government is what we should judge on; personal goodness is between them and God.

What we "should" judge politicians on is only your opinion, everyone will judge them in their own way. One thing that I do find distasteful is the check-book journalism and the propensity for ex-lovers to kiss and tell. The aggrieved partner usually comes out of the exercise just as damaged as the other partner. Loyalty seems to be a rarity these days, or is it that there have been many more affairs where discretion and loyalty have been maintained?

If Prescott goes can he still retain his position as Deputy Leader of the Labour party from the back benches?

Henry, he is the elected deputy leader, whereas his ministerial brief is distinct. But politically, if he resigns from the ODPM, he'd have to resign as deputy leader, surely.

There has to be a connection between a society where vices like adultery are as serious as ever and where the most powerful men in the country are not held to account for being unfaithful in their own affairs. Some group in society always needs to set an example, and if the governors of our nation can't do it, nobody can. John Prescott, and every other politician who has ever got in hot water for something like this, is telling people that unfaithful behaviour is acceptable and has no consequences, and conservatives everywhere (or anybody with any kind of conscience, conservative or not!) should be appalled by that.

It matters completely what politicians do in their private lives, because somebody has to set an example and in the absence of anyone in society who gives a damn any more, it is inevitably those who are most in the gaze of the media. Having an affair is not 'human frailty' - human frailty is something essentially good which makes us more compassionate than animal in the wild. Prescott's behaviour puts humankind right out there with the animals.

Let's not let kindness or the politician's right to privacy get in the way of what is right, because the failure of powerful people to set a good example of how to behave is one of the most emphatic reasons why our society has lost its way.

A good and brave post. Adultery is not a "private matter". It is the violation of the most public and profound promise that any of us will ever make.

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