Huhne and Pryce: Eastenders for the chattering classes

Chris Huhne: Picture courtesy telegraph blogs

Chris Huhne: Picture courtesy telegraph blogs

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 And Vicky Pryce, the woman scorned, who tried to revive an outdated medieval defence as a  “clever, clever ” device to exact revenge on her  husband.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. (  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 ( 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.

Vicky Pryce: picture courtesy Guardian

Vicky Pryce: picture courtesy Guardian

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.

7 thoughts on “Huhne and Pryce: Eastenders for the chattering classes

  1. Huhne and Pryce have received everything they deserve for attempting to pervert the course of justice, and Pryce clearly was wrong to try to justify her actions with a plea of marital coercion, but to say this plea is medieval and outdated overlooks the fact that women in some circumstances are more likely to be subject to intimidation by abusive partners. There is a real, and often rather unpleasant world out there, beyond Westminster, and ‘the chattering classes’, you know …


    • Yes Mrs A you are right about the unpleasant world out there. The point I was making – and obviously didn’t make it clear enough – was that the defence she used dated back to medieval law and I understand is going to be scrapped as a defence. It can easily be replaced by violance or threatening behaviour etc.


  2. yes, well, some of our fundamental rights in law probably date back to the medieval era, and inequality between the sexes, and the greater vulnerability of women, is a horrible truth that still needs to be addressed.


  3. This is a sorry saga of not very bad people doing unprincipled things and being punished – rightly – for their scheming and lies. It is also, as you say, a middle class soap opera in which the privileged media access of Huhne & Pryce’s friends can keep the storyline running. So why no mention of the other villain in this bath of grubby suds? Isabel Oakeshott behaved like any good journalist today would, which may be part of the reason why journalists are almost as distrusted as politicians.


    • Yasmin
      I did mention Pryce using the Sunday Times for revenge which was a reference to Isabel Oakeshott’s emails with her. I agree with you on the surface it does look like she was encouraged by Oakeshott. Perhaps I should have been more blunt but it looked to me that Vicky Pryce was pretty determined anyawy.


      • I was making a slightly different point really. You know better than I do that journalists sit on all sorts of information, and that it isn’t simply a pure matter of pursuing any legitimate story that happens to arise. I was particularly struck by this when listening to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the Today prog defending Pryce. It made me think of YA-B’s ill-advised and excruciating piece on the collapse of her own marriage in, I think, Marxism Today. Some things are best not exposed to public view, and a woman’s grief at the end of a relationship is one of them. I’m not inclined to believe in marital coercion in this case, but I do believe that otherwise intelligent women can become unhinged by grief.


      • Yasmin -Understood. what you mean is that some journalists might have decided that such distressing allegations made at a time of grief at a break up of marriage might be better to remain private.


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