The fall out from the jailing of former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife government economist Vicky Pryce is almost too absurd to behold.
Acres of press coverage is being given to the plight of the pair with Fleet Street’s finest excelling themselves on the unfair treatment of the unfortunate duo now residing at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in Wandsworth and Holloway gaols.
In my view this sad and tragic affair had a just and proportionate outcome. Yes, it is wrong for someone to be jailed for taking someone else’s penalty points. But it is not wrong to be jailed, whoever you are, for perverting the course of justice to try to cover it up.
Chris Huhne who lied from the outset and cost the taxpayer a lot of wasted money knew the consequences. And Vicky Pryce, the woman scorned, who tried to revive an outdated medieval defence as a “clever, clever ” device to exact revenge on her husband.
Both are highly intelligent people and it is a tragedy for politics and Whitehall that we have lost two capable people who do contribute, whatever your views, to public life. It looks like a personal and public tragedy for their children.
But some of the comments have been off the wall. Simon Jenkins piece in The Guardian yesterday. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/12/huhne-pryce-jailing-inability-punish-public-failings) where he described the jailing as a sort of mob rule revenge to appease the working classes was almost off the Richter scale in its perversity. If you don’t like Huhne’s grasp of politics, you punish him at the ballot box not in the courts. Then there was last night’s Evening Standard article – a portrait of Vicky Pryce (http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/friends-of-vicky-pryce-fear-for-her-health-shes-not-a-hardbitten-monster-prison-could-break-her-8532385.html) where the author quoted people saying the judge was a misogynist for suggesting that Vicky Pryce had been manipulative in organising her revenge through the Sunday Times.
Then they were the Guardian and Channel Four ” mea culpa” interviews with Chris Huhne – one given according to the Standard to the journalist best man at his wedding. What next? The creation of a Huhne concerto by piano playing Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger to commemorate the event or an Anna Wintour fashion show to raise cash for Vicky Pryce’s convalescence.
Obviously there is a craving among the chattering classes to follow this soap opera. May I suggest that some budding dramatist puts all this to rest. Perhaps Nicholas Hytner should get the National Theatre to commission a contemporary play contrasting the hubris of Westminster life with the downfall over a speeding ticket. It is has got everything – sex, power, a scorned woman, and macho driving.. It would be better than putting all this energy into a brilliant production of a revived 1930s German comedy, Captain Kopenik, which is rather irrelevant to modern British society. And Anthony Sher might make a good Chris Huhne.
No matter. My main point is that this is a distraction. While all these goes on thousands of people are being forced to move house because of cruel government policies, there is an epidemic of unsolved child abuse cases and the NHS appears to have let patients die unnecessarily on an epic scale.
Literally While Huhne fiddles Britain burns.