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8:36am on Monday, 23rd January, 2006:
The Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman, Mark Oaten, resigned over the weekend after revelations that he had a six-month relationship with a rent boy at £80 a session. It's too tempting not to refer to him as the Liberal Democrat Homosexual Affairs spokesman, so I'll do it for you just this once.
Anyway, in The Independent today there's an article on the subject with two nice quotes in it.
First, we have Mr Oaten himself calling his actions "an error of judgment". This makes it sound as if he made a considered decision to engage on a six-month relationship with a rent boy but that now, with the benefit of hindsight, is willing to accept that he perhaps made a mistake.
Actually, his error of judgment was his decision, after examining the pros and cons, looking at all the angles, and balancing all the issues, that he could do this without being found out. OK, so paying for sex isn't illegal and deceiving your wife as to your sexuality isn't either, so he won't be going to jail for his moments of fun. However, neither will he be re-elected next time round.
The second quote is from gay activist Peter Tatchell, who said, "Mark Oaten is not the only Liberal Democrat MP who has had sex with men. We are disappointed that so few Lib Dem MPs have chosen to come out".
Gee, yes, you're right Mr Tatchell. Mark Oaten is not the only Liberal Democrat MP who has had sex with men. Annette Brooke, MP, Lorely Burt, MP, Lynne Featherstone, MP, Sandra Gidley, MP and Susan Kramer, MP all have children, and I'm fairly confident that they didn't all get them through adoption or IVF.
That's the thing about single-issue politics — it's easy to become too single-issue.
Of course, it may be that Peter Tatchell did put the word "male" in there somewhere, but that The Independent chose not to mention it. The Mark Oaten quote I gave earlier is reported by the BBC as being "I would like to apologise for errors of judgement in personal behaviour". This is subtly different to what The Independent said it was; it means he could argue that it was his neglecting to mention to his wife that he had affairs with rent boys which was his error of judgment, although "errors" suggests that there's more than just this to it. I still think he's making an attempt to imply it was all some foolish, youthful indiscretion which, with the maturity that has come with the 18 months that have since elapsed, we can now all safely dismiss. Except, no, we can't. If your family can't trust you, why would the electorate?
"Out" in more ways than one.
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