Friday, October 5, 2012
It is never a good idea for a politician to try and be funny about sex. They should know it by now. Have they never heard of Silvio Berlusconi?
They shouldn’t even allude to it. The problem is they have no control. Once they’ve started, they think it’s a good idea to keep going.
Take deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman. A couple of years ago she made a rather dodgy quip about David Cameron wanting to have his evil way in her voting booth (ooh Matron).
Several years on in her speech to conference yesterday and things have become worse, she didn’t even bother to hide it with innuendo.
Instead, she began talking plainly about sado-masochism. She started off by telling a joke about the recent popular novel relating to that issue.
“I had an awkward moment when a journalist asked me if I’d read ‘that’ book. Women here will know the one. The one about a sado-masochistic relationship – you know, with a dominant superior controlling a naive submissive.
“And I said, ‘don’t be silly – of course I’ve read the coalition agreement.’”
Boom, boom. Then she went on: “Now, as it happens, I have also read 50 Shades of Grey – for ‘research purposes’. But I have to say I don’t think it’s very realistic.”
Let me just cut in here and point out that however this passage from her speech were to end, no good could ever have possibly come from it. Just as no good came, for example, from Cherie Blair’s interview comment about Tony: “Even now he still excites me in all possible ways.”
People in politics are meant to have other people who train them and advise them not to say certain things. If sado-masochsim doesn’t set off the alarm bells then what on earth does?
She went on: “Because, let’s be honest, what most women want is not a man who ties you to the bed, but one who unstacks the dishwasher while you watch the Great British Bake-Off.”
She waved her arm waiting for sisters in the audience to shout “yes”, but instead all you could hear was the faint murmour of whispering as people prayed for the ground to open up and swallow her, them or the whole world.
It was her husband Jack Dromey MP, who was in the conference hall, that I felt most sorry for of course.
Earlier in the day, a delegate had gone up to thank him on the conference stage but then, getting nervous, she admitted to hundreds of people in the hall watching that she couldn’t remember his name.
With a wife that tells jokes like that, perhaps it’s not a bad thing that people forget who you are.