Betting Scandal

4 July 2024

Betting Scandal

Where is the sex?

By Robert Kilconner

I must say that this betting business is very disappointing. No, I am not making some moral comment about Conservative MPs and party officials. Every party has its share of ‘likely lads’ and that has always been the case. What upsets me is the low quality of the scandal. There is no sex in it, for a start. Time was when Conservative or Liberal scandals were about sex and Labour scandals were about money but to these basics a piquant sauce was often added. In the case of Profumo there was a Russian spy and an impossibly grand swimming pool. In the case of the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe allegations of homosexual relations were spiced up with the shooting of a dog and a trial for attempted murder. But a row about whether bets were laid on the basis of inside information? Pathetic; how politics has gone downhill.

Things would be better if the protagonists were more amusing. If only Boris or Nigel Farage were involved, one could look forward to the occasional bon mot. But alas, the whole affair is as dull and humourless as the election campaign itself. And that surely is a low bar. Those self-flagellants who sat through the BBC’s election debate between the party leaders were treated to a masterclass in humourless pomposity and stupidity; no, not on the part of Messrs Sunak and Starmer but rather on the part of those members of the audience who asked the questions and the BBC which selected them. Take this witless garbage as an example:

“Are you two really the best we’ve got for the next Prime Minister?”

Cunning, you see, by care in the community standards. Answer “yes” and you go down as arrogant. Answer “no” and someone else should be standing in your place.  In fact both party leaders evaded the question (perhaps replying to the rudeness of the senile is just not their thing) and talked about what they would do in office. There were other questions about what the respective parties would do for the young and for women which were just as anodyne.

All right, all right. One cannot expect TV audiences to be very bright but how did the BBC make such an asinine selection? How indeed did they select the man who asked the question set out above for comments after the event? Is it some weird social programme designed to comfort the viewers with the thought that they are not right at the bottom of the intellectual pile or is it that the BBC personnel are of the same calibre? God knows! Lord Reith would turn in his grave. But what a shame that neither leader used this half volley of a question to inject some humour or humanity into the debate with a “well this is what you’ve got” response and perhaps a joke to go with it. But no, the apparatchiks have told them that the public doesn’t like humour; a special adviser wouldn’t see humour if he fell over it in the street.

Politically speaking I have no sympathy with Nigel Farage but I have to confess to a sneaking hope that he gets elected just because it will inject some much needed colour into our politics. Once upon a time we had much more of that and since I have bored the reader by discussing the appalling television debate it is only fair that I should end this article with an anecdote.

Those with long memories will recall Horatio Bottomley, a Liberal politician, orator, entrepreneur, newspaper proprietor, patriot and fraudster, who flourished in the early part of the 20th century. When he was serving seven years penal servitude for his frauds, the Home Secretary, who was visiting the prison, looked into his cell where he was sewing mailbags.

“Sewing, Bottomley?” the visitor asked.

“No, reaping,” Bottomley replied.

Surely we need one or two with this sort of wit in the House of Commons

tile photo: by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

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