Animalistic Immorality of Politics

How in politics, be it British, American, Australian or Indian, the world has witnessed the ruckus occurred due to sex scandals. In the past also, the world had become a spectator to many such cases which had turned the picture of politics upside down

By Geeta Singh
  • Last year Australian politics was also engulfed by sex scandals that had shaken the Parliament
  • Many in France used to say Former President Francois Hollande’s sex appeal was as low as his public opinion ratings
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor turned Governor of California, was found to have a love child of 14 years, outside his marriage
  • Eliot Spitzer was the Democratic governor of New York state and had patronized a prostitution ring called Emperors Club

THE United Kingdom government is the latest example where sex scandal has rocked British politics and consumed Boris Johnson’s cabinet, Boris will be an acting PM until coming October while in the meantime, his Conservative Party will choose a new leader. The UK PM had to resign after sex scandals in the Conservative party triggered the mass resignation of his ministers. 

The first two of his top ministers, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid resigned, expressing a lack of confidence in his leadership, which was followed by junior ministers and aides. This whole friction happened because Johnson govt chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris Pincher, 52-year-old MP was accused of sexual misconduct at the Carlton Club in London’s Piccadilly on 29 June. He was accused by two men of drunkenly groping them. After the matter was reported, Pincher resigned. After that last July, other sexual harassment allegations against Pincher emerged. These accusations were followed by six more cases of alleged sexual assault of Pincher in recent years. 

As per the Independent report, Pincher is a serial offender. The politician had acquired a degree of notoriety among his colleagues. And this misconduct is the newest in a row of scandals about the behaviour of MPs in Westminster. It’s worth remembering that Pincher is the fifth Conservative MP to be accused of some form of sexual misconduct since July 2020. And that nearly 9 per cent of all MPs are reported to be under investigation for sexual misconduct.

TORIES’ TANGO

Though many controversies came into the news in recent years some ashamed the Conservative party prominently. Last year Rob Roberts, the Conservative MP for Delyn in north Wales, was found by Parliament’s Independent expert panel to have made “significant” repeated unwanted sexual advances towards a former member of staff, as well as inappropriate comments of a sexual nature. He was suspended for 12 weeks by the Conservatives but allowed to rejoin the party in October 2021.

The disgraced former Conservative MP, Charlie Elphicke,  who represented the Kent constituency of Dover from 2010 until 2019, was released halfway through his sentence earlier this year, having been jailed for two years in September 2020. He was also ordered to pay £35,000 within a year towards the costs of the prosecution. Elphicke was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against two women.  

This year in April David Warburton, the Conservative MP for Somerton and Frome was suspended from the Tory parliamentary party after a series of allegations relating to sexual harassment and cocaine use. An investigation by Westminster’s independent complaints and grievance scheme is still ongoing.

Last year Former President Bill Clinton, recollected the sex scandal, in a documentary series, ‘Hillary’, produced by HULU, that led to his impeachment in 1998. He said that his extramarital affair with Monica S Lewinsky was a way of “managing my anxieties”

Imran Ahmad Khan, another Conservative MP for Wakefield, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008. He resigned as an MP on 28 April 2022, his incident also triggered a by-election that Labour Party won on 23 June. This year in May as per news reports an unnamed Conservative MP was arrested on suspicion of rape and other sexual offences related to offences alleged to have been committed between 2002 and 2009. The MP, who has not been publicly named, has been ordered to stay away from Westminster while under investigation by the Metropolitan police. 

LABOUR PARTY’S DISGRACE

Keith Vaz, Britain’s longest serving Indian-origin MP from Leicester, was embroiled in a sex scandal in 2016 after The Sunday Mirror claimed he had paid for male prostitutes. The Labour MP, who is a father of two, paid for two East European male prostitutes to visit him at his flat that he owned in London. He even offered to pay for cocaine if it was brought to his flat. There were also allegations that Vaz might have connived in breaching security as the man who paid for his male escorts, Daniel Dragusin, was granted a pass to the House of Lords. Dragusin, local reports said, left large portions of the application form blank. Allegations about him receiving money and gifts and his evident wealth are now doing the rounds. Vaz is lying low for the moment, perhaps comforted by the fact that his wife said she will stand by him, but his political career is probably over.

AUSTRALIAN WRONGDOING

Similarly last year Australian politics was also engulfed by sex scandals that had shaken the highest levels of office – Parliament, in the country and brought the anger of the public to the streets. In February 2021, a former government staff member Brittany Higgins filed a police complaint alleging she was raped by a colleague nearly two years ago. 

Since then, four other women have come forward with similar claims. The country’s top law official identified himself as the subject of a rape allegation dating back three decades, which he has strenuously denied. Thousands of women took to the streets in protest across Australian cities. 

A high-profile investigation into sexual harassment and bullying in Australia’s Parliament has found widespread “sexist culture”, with an investigation finding that half of the parliamentary employees had experienced bullying, harassment or sexual assault. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised to a former staffer who said she was raped in the Parliament House. The government-backed report – released after a seven-month investigation – said one in three people currently working at the Parliament “have experienced some form of sexual harassment while working there”. “Aspiring male politicians who thought nothing of, in one case, picking you up, kissing you on the lips, lifting you up, touching you, pats on the bottom, comments about appearance, you know, the usual… the culture allowed it,” said one of the report’s 1,700 interviewees. The report made 28 recommendations, including a formal statement of acknowledgement by political leaders, targets to increase gender diversity and “a proactive focus on safety and wellbeing”.

AMERICAN SCANDALS 

In the US politics too, a number of sex scandals have hit the headlines while some quietly sank into oblivion. Barack Obama’s case was on point. He is seen as the quintessential family man deeply committed to wife Michelle and his two daughters, widely regarded as somebody who would never look at another woman. But the National Enquirer dropped a bombshell within 15 months of Obama coming to power. The paper claimed that Vera Baker, a former aide to Obama who had helped mobilise millions of dollars for his election campaign, had spent the night with him at the Hotel George in Washington DC. The reporter who did the story came up with this information after talking to the driver of the limousine that had dropped off Baker at the Hotel George. The White House was able to kill the story before it got around; nevertheless, it was all over on the net. The London Daily Mail came up with a slightly different story on Oct. 11, 2008, exactly three weeks before the Presidential elections. It was about an Afro-American woman having intimate relations with Obama. When Michelle Obama got wind of the affair, she had Baker kicked out of Obama’s core team

THE MOST INFAMOUS 

Last year Former President Bill Clinton, recollected the sex scandal, in a documentary series, ‘Hillary’, produced by HULU, that led to his impeachment in 1998. He said that his extramarital affair with Monica S Lewinsky was a way of “managing my anxieties.” Notwithstanding, Clinton’s sexual adventures with a young woman intern, Monica Lewinsky cost him the presidency of the United States over 24 years ago. When the story broke in 1998 that President Bill Clinton had carried out an affair with young former White House intern Monica, the media eagerly prepared to make Lewinsky the face of the scandal. In newspapers and on cable news and talk shows she became a slut, an innocent victim, a liberated woman, someone sexy, someone fat, someone feminine, someone unwomanly. Her name became synonymous with a sex act. Her humiliation became a national spectacle.

The book Crisis of Character by former secret service officer Gary Byrne who served in the White House during the Clinton years, did more damage. “The affair was passionate, they were always looking for places in the White House where they could get together. We wondered how he got any work done and joked that he would have been better at running a brothel in a red-light district than the White House,” Byrne wrote. Lewinsky had his number – the ‘secret number’ that enabled her to dial his direct line without going through anyone. The number was one few people had. In an interview to Time magazine in 1999, Lewinsky admitted their relationship was “definitely inappropriate. And the way he was flirting with me was inappropriate. So I think it was eye contact. And the way he looks at women he’s attracted to. He undresses you with his eyes.”

A cursory glance through Berlusconi’s record is mind boggling: The trials and allegations against him range from abuse of office to extortion, perjury, collusion with the criminal mafia, witness tampering and bribery in addition to the sexual abuse charges

The affair ended in 1997 when a sexual harassment case filed by a former Clinton worker Paula Jones, got underway. Unfortunately for Lewinsky (and Clinton), she had confided all the details (nine sexual encounters) to a co-worker Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded every detail and handed them over to investigators. When legal proceedings to impeach Clinton got underway, Lewinsky denied everything. But Tripp’s revelations exposed her lie. As for Clinton, after that infamous lie: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” he later admitted on nationwide television to “inappropriate intimate contact” with the intern.

Eliot Spitzer was the Democratic governor of New York state and posed himself as a ‘future of the party.’ However, in March 2008, The New York Times reported that Spitzer had patronized a prostitution ring called Emperors Club. From there, Spitzer’s hold on public office quickly unravelled. Within two weeks he had resigned, and was replaced by Lieutenant Governor David Paterson. Since then, Spitzer has made inroads as a political commentator and hosts his own show, In The Arena, on CNN.

In 2017 former President Donald John Trump said to reporters, “women are very special. I think it’s a very special time, a lot of things are coming out and I think that’s good for our society and I think it’s very, very good for women and I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out. I’m very happy it’s being exposed.” Then, Trump was, vociferously, had taken aim at accused Democrats, while apparently giving a pass to Republicans. 

Moreover, it was only a year ago that similar accusations against Trump dominated the headlines, with more than a dozen women accusing Trump of improper conduct or sexual assault. Many of the accusations surfaced after the release of a 2005 tape of Trump speaking graphically about kissing and groping women uninvited. 

The Fact Checker first detailed some of the accusations against Trump during the 2016 campaign. It also detailed the witnesses who backed up claims of sexual accusations against former president Bill Clinton — who, like Trump, insisted the women accusing him were not telling the truth. More than 17 women come forward publicly with claims that Trump had physically touched them inappropriately in some way, and the witnesses they provided. 

The list did not include claims that were made only through Facebook posts or other social media, or in lawsuits that subsequently were withdrawn and the accounts of former beauty contestants who say Trump walked in on them when they were half nude because there were no allegations of touching. As a candidate, Donald Trump vowed to sue the slew of women accusing him of sexual misconduct. But,  that never happened. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said to the Politico magazine, that the flurry of civil lawsuits could be more threatening to Trump than the Russia probe. 

But Donald Trump’s sexual improprieties has had no visible impact on his popularity as a politician. Because he has persuaded his supporters that he truly is a victim of “fake news.” 

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the muscle-man turned actor turned Governor of California, was found to have a love child of 14 years, outside his marriage. Apparently, he was involved with the housekeeper and they had a son, who came to light only in 2011 when Schwarzenegger came out and addressed the world about his infidelity. He and his wife Maria split the same year.

In March 2021, reports surfaced of a federal investigation into allegations that Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2019. The New York Times reported that Gaetz was being investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ), and investigators were examining whether he had violated federal sex trafficking laws. Whereas, Gaetz denied any wrongdoing, asserting he and his family were “victims of an organised criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million.

RETURN OF CASANOVA

“I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone.”  Silvio Berlusconi has defied rivals, prosecutors and sex scandals through a series of comebacks. Now 85, when most people his age would be putting their feet up, Italy’s former Prime Minister has decided to stand for elections this year. This year Berlusconi would be in the position of Kingmaker. However, he is the junior partner in a right-wing alliance with Giorgia Meloni’s conservative and right-wing populist political party in Italy – Brothers of Italy and Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration League. Though his position is far reduced from his glory days of 2008, when his party took 37 percent of the vote. His political party is currently polling at around 8 percent. But together, the right-wing alliance parties are expected to take about 45 percent of the vote, which should be enough for a majority in Parliament.

Former President Francois Hollande’s affair with Gayet began in 2011 when he was well past middle age (around 56-57) and she would have been in her late thirties. The affair continued after he moved into the Elysee Palace the next year with his then “official” companion Valerie Trierweiler in her late 40s

Berlusconi hit the headlines with his “Bunga Bunga” parties, an euphemism for bashes that he threw featuring young women in costumes disrobing themselves to the rapturous applause of guests (mostly men). His supporters say he is a much-maligned man. Lawyer Annalisa Amicucci argues that Berlusconi has every right to hold whatever types of private parties he wants and “neither journalists nor magistrates should try to stop that.” According to her, Berlusconi “gives gifts to women because he is generous, he is generous with everybody. Women adore him, including me, for the man he is, for what he has achieved and does for our country. He does not need to pay for sex.” But his long-suffering second wife of many years had had enough, divorcing him in 2009 for “consorting with minors”. It wasn’t long before the law caught up with Berlusconi. A cursory glance through Berlusconi’s record is mind-boggling: The trials and allegations against him range from abuse of office to extortion, perjury, collusion with the criminal mafia, witness tampering and bribery (in addition to the sexual abuse charges). 

Berlusconi was found guilty of having sex with a Moroccan belly dancer in 2013. During that time the belly dancer was 17 years old. However, Berlusconi appealed to the High Court, after which this trial is going on. The buzz is he wanted to escape further scrutiny about his personal life by the public and press. Clearly, as long as there is a Berlusconi, Bunga Bunga and all the rest will continue.

FRENCH AFFAIRE

Many in France used to say Former President Francois Hollande’s sex appeal was as low as his public opinion ratings. He was described as “flanby” (after a wobbly dessert) and “pere” (granddaddy). But something about Francois Hollande drew actress Julie Gayet to him, to the extent that her paramour would sneak out of the Elysee Palace at night, get on a moped and ride to a love nest nearby minus security.

Donald Trump’s sexual improprieties has had no visible impact on his popularity as a politician. Because he has persuaded his supporters that he truly is a victim of “fake news”

According to the French celebrity tracking magazine Closer, Hollande’s affair with Gayet began in 2011 when he was well past middle age (around 56-57) and she would have been in her late thirties. The affair continued after he moved into the Elysee Palace the next year with his then “official” companion Valerie Trierweiler in her late 40s. They separated in 2014 after the affair became public knowledge. Mind you, before the women mentioned above there was Segolene Royal, his companion of 30 years with whom he has four children. Hollande appointed her minister for environment shortly after the relationship with Trierweiler ended.But it’s important to note that Hollande is not an adulterer, because he never married. An article in the Spectator said: “That gives him, you’d think, a bit of leeway on the sexual front; the fact he’s never made any vows to anyone and so hasn’t broken any.” Gayet lifted some of the mystery about her relationship with Hollande in her biography- Une Intermittente à l’Elysée released in 2016.

Geeta Singh

Geeta Singh has spent 20 years covering cinema, music, and society giving new dimensions to feature writing. She has to her credit the editorship of a film magazine. She is also engaged in exploring the socio-economic diversity of Indian politics. She is the co-founder of Parliamentarian.

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