He gained the nickname 2 jags for driving 200 yards in a Jaguar, then 2 jabs for lashing out at a protestor who threw and egg at him. Now the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has been labelled ‘2 shags’ by the Daily Mirror, having admitted to having an affair. It turns out that Prescott – who is actually 67 (he actually looks younger) – was having an affair with his secretary in his Whitehall flat. The guy that the secretary currently lives with reacted as follows:
I feel sick. I can’t believe the woman I wanted to marry has slept with John Prescott. I’ve been betrayed by one of the most powerful men in the UK.
While it might be good for a chuckle about what the portly Deputy PM has been up to, it does nevertheless cast further doubt on the trustworthiness of politicians, and actually, you wonder about their sanity as a result. Allegations or proof of affairs seem to just follow politicians – it happened to Robin Cook, Alan Milburn, John Major – and it seems to be a common trait, as alluded to by Jeremy Paxman in his book The Political Animal – read some reviews of it here. Having seen what goes on in the European Parliament, especially during Strasbourg weeks during the time I worked there, this is something that happens right across politics.
The question I cannot answer is this: are politicians (normally males in their 50s and 60s) more likely to be caught with their trousers down than other people of a similar age? Or is it that politicians are supposed to act as role models and hence we are supposed to care more about it? Or is it that we hope our politicians are trustworthy, and if their wives cannot trust them, should we be able to?
Further, is all of this a particular concern in Britain? Having had four wives did not seem to be a problem for Gerhard Schröder – indeed not a year passed between each divorce and the subsequent marriage! Joschka Fischer has married a woman more than 25 years younger than him. Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson even managed to have a divorce while in office.