by Les MayTHE best description of Simon Danczuk's antics I have come across is that he is 'like a man who goes to a cocktail party and insists on drinking lager'. A bit cruel perhaps, but even in the Labour party he gives every impression of being a 'square peg in a round hole'.
No one could possibly make such a jibe against the recently deceased Cecil Parkinson. A favourite of Margaret Thatcher he fitted into the Tory party of the 1980s like a man born to it. Which he wasn't. Like Simon Danczuk his family origins were in the working class. His father was a 'platelayer', which is essentially someone responsible for maintaining a section of the track of a railway.
Whilst we can peruse at our leisure the history of Parkinson's fall from grace over a sexual indiscretion, the final chapter of Danczuk's sudden tumble into the realms of being referred to in the papers which once lauded him, as a 'shamed' or 'disgraced' MP, still has to be written.
Parkinson was forced to resign on 14 October 1983 after it was revealed that his former secretary, Sara Keays was carrying his child. He decided to remain with his wife rather than divorce and keep his promise to marry Sarah.
As Allison Pearson put it in the Telegraph, 'In the moral climate of 30 years ago, Parkinson had to resign because of sex. His position was considered untenable due to his adultery and the embarrassment of his secretary being openly with-child.' But the judgement of history is rather different. But as Pearson noted with reference to his decision not to acknowledge the daughter Sara produced, 'What ruined his reputation was not that he was too much of a shagger, but too little of a father'.
If as Pearson suggests the moral climate has changed with regard to adultery by our leaders, then Simon Danczuk has been one of the beneficiaries. Today we recognise that Simon's extra-marital behaviour isn't our business. And whilst a teacher in a religious school might still struggle to keep their job if they committed adultery and got another woman pregnant, that wouldn't be the situation in a state school.
But if a teacher were found to have been sending suggestive texts to a 17 years old young woman with a nice sideline in marketing toe nail clippings and used underwear, he (and probably she) would be suspended pending an investigation. And this goes of a number of other jobs too. It's the sleaze factor which is at work here.
The fact that Simon has been suspended from the Labour party and no one seems in a big hurry to get the investigation under way is in sharp contrast with what happened to Cecil Parkinson. Although he had to resign his ministerial post after Sara Keays' pregnancy became known he did not fall out of favour with Thatcher or the Tory party. He had two more periods as a minister from 1987 to
1990 and was Chairman of the party 1997-1998. Not a bad record for a man who once said he wanted to remove the prefix “the disgraced” from his name.
Cecil was loyal to his party which reciprocated that loyalty, Simon isn't. He may well have friends in the Labour party who like him style themselves as 'moderates', but even they must be wondering if he can be trusted.
Simon's problem is that from day one of his election he has been in too much of a hurry to become a man of influence within the party and hence have a role in shaping policy. The traditional way of doing this was to make oneself known by writing Fabian pamphlets and taking up invitations to visit other constituencies to give talks to Labour groups. Simon's preferred method was to adopt a populist stance on some aspect of policy and then have his name attached to articles about it in the Daily Mail or the Sun newspapers.
Instead of taking time to produce a well documented book about Cyril Smith he established himself as 'Nonce Finder General' by rushing into print a book which is repetitive, lacking in any systematic methodology, largely based on gossip and supposition, with substantial parts very doubtfully true and with at least one important section now known to be completely untrue.
Whether Simon will ever be able to get away from having 'the shamed' or 'the disgraced' being prefixed to his name I don't know. Since the story of the suggestive texts with its connotations of sleaze broke on New Years Eve we've had the revelations about Simon's thoughts on politics from a former girlfriend, allegations of rape by a former wife, stories about claiming expenses for accommodation in London for children he has hardly seen, stories about the purchase of children's rail tickets and stories about his penchant for first class rail travel.
No doubt Simon will claim that some of the complaints about his expenses are politically motivated. But given that instead of debating policy with the Lib-Dems during 2014 Labours main strategy in Rochdale was to demand that they 'apologise for Cyril Smith' that will be a bit like the pan calling the kettle 'sooty bottom'.