How many times did David Cameron have sex with a (dead) pig’s head? I ask the question to see if we can get into perspective Michael Gove’s revelation yesterday that he took cocaine several times when he was “a young journalist”. (See what Michael did there? No, not take another snort, Virginia. He implicitly raised the question of the drug-taking habits of the journalists who’d be questioning him.)
Gove ‘s not the only one of the Tory leadership contenders who’ve had a go at mind-altering substances. Rory Stewart said he had a bit of opium, but the people in Afghanistan who gave it to him were very poor so there probably wasn’t much of the drug in the pipe. Jeremy Hunt says he had cannabis when he was back-packing in India, although I don’t think he has said how long he was in India or how much cannabis he ingested. Boris Johnson he snorted cocaine and smoked dope when he was a teenager.
The assumption is that Michael, Rory, Jeremy and Boris have all now given up their drug stuff and that David has transferred his sexual favours to more appealing partners than a pig’s head.
All good (largely) clean fun and none of which should have any bearing on their chances of becoming the top Tory boy. Despite Gove’s cocaine thing heading the news this morning, drug-taking and even a dalliance with part of a pig, this sex and drugs (and maybe even rock and roll) have nothing to do with the ability of any of them to be good Tory leaders. (With the possible exception of Stewart, I believe they’ll all prove to be stinkers at leading the Tory party, but that’s not the point.)
The point is that it’s time we stopped this foolishness of applying misplaced criteria. Drug-taking or hog-humping decades ago have nothing to do with political ability today. Not that I’m advocating snorting or smoking or pig-congress: it’s just that I think the correct criteria should be applied when someone’s applying for or doing a job.
There was a similar absurdity in the media world recently. Writer Gareth Roberts was dropping from a Doctor Who anthology on the grounds that he’d written offensive transphobic tweets. Roberts in the past has written for several TV series, including episodes for David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. So he’s clearly a writer of some talent. But in 2017 he wrote “I love how trannies choose names like Munroe, Paris and Chelsea. It’s never Julie or Bev, is it?” Roberts says he was merely engaging in a bit of “cheerful vulgarity”. You might think it was undesirable or even offensive to transgender people. But it still has 100% of nothing to do with his ability as a writer, which is what he should be judged on in this case.
Not that it has the slightest relevance but we’re told in reports on the matter that Roberts himself is gay.