A curious article in this evening’s Standard, concerning the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. The full piece is here – but the headline is “Sally Bercow: ‘Two bottles a day, one-night stands, my life was out of control'”. This apparently merits an appearance on the front page and a two page interview, in spite of the fact that, as the interviewer admits in the first sentence –
“Sally Bercow is a household name whom no one knows much about …”
The revelations seem to consist of the fact that, as a younger woman, working in advertising, she used to drink “wine at lunchtime” and sometimes “a bottle in the evening”. Pressed by the interviewer she admits (or claims) that this might sometimes have been two bottles. This apparently led to her sometimes having “one-night stands” and falling asleep on the Tube, so that she woke up in Epping. I’m sure we’ve all been there (falling asleep on the Tube, I mean, rather than Epping – though the Forest is rather lovely if you catch it at the right time of year). So what is the point of these revelations?
She says herself that –
“”I want to run for Parliament as a Labour candidate so this has all got to come out and I’d rather tell it myself.”
I really don’t see why any of it (such as it is) has to come out, and, even if it did, I can’t imagine that many- if any – of the electorate would (if you’ll pardon the language) give two fucks one way or the other. So my initial feeling is that this is an interesting example of a politician (or would-be politician) using the common-or-garden celebrity’s trick of the addiction-related confessional interview as a means of boosting her profile (my booze hell!)
The one who really comes out of this badly, I feel is John Bercow. Mrs. B. says of him –
” They stayed friends, even in her wild years. “He’d have a single pint and I’d guzzle wine but he was so fixated on politics, I don’t think he noticed.””
Drinking to excess is one thing, but becoming addicted to politics at such an early age is a far more worrying sign. No doubt many of us had a normal student experience with politics. We may, for instance, have found ourselves at a party – slightly tipsy – and been tempted to enter into an argument about withdrawal from the European Economic Union. We may have been approached by a dubious-looking character in a sidestreet wanting to ask us about our voting intentions and we may have given way to the temptation to engage them in conversation. There is no shame attached to any of this, but to carry this fixation on well into later life – as Bercow has apparently done – is, in my view, to invite serious questions about his character.