Sally Bercow : My Booze Hell!

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.

A study in contrasts

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5 thoughts on “Sally Bercow : My Booze Hell!

  1. I’m not remotely interested in the private lives of public figures and unless their activities are actually criminal, it’s no-one’s business but their own.

    I worry a great deal about career politicians, because if they’re planning a political career from such an early age, and being conscious that any transgressions could be dredged up and held against them later, they will never gain the appropriate life experience that they need to make decisions on behalf of the rest of us. Also there is something unsavoury about these public confessions that rather smacks of (and I’m really struggling for the right words here) but a type of self congratulation and pride. Do people fall for that?

    My contemporaries at school and college were all fiercely political and we led what I shall primly call ‘Interesting Lives’. I stood for election in different capacities several times; I’m glad I didn’t win, as in the current prurient climate I would have been dragged through the mire.

  2. Wartimehousewife (good blog, BTW, esp recipes), I’m not sure whether we have anything to worry about. The Bercows are a comfortable couple in their mid-forties, and even if we lacked their examples, there have been thousands of other young people before them who chose politics as a career at the age of twenty. Mutually fortunately, we have not heard of most of them.

    We are also fortunate that the consciousness of twenty year olds has not changed significantly. John Bercow wrote his thoughts in student pamphlets and newsletters with a readership of 100; his successors post their thoughts on Facebook and blogs. Facebook is especially pertinent because even if your profile is strait laced, your drunken image may be posted by a (former) friend. All the same, I reckon that all student politician types are on Facebook.

    John Bercow’s politics, as a young man, were obnoxious. He wrote some fabulously crass stuff. He grew up and established a political career in spite of his past.

    Young and old people want to change the world and it is easier to express ideas than ever before. Do it and be prepared to change your mind in the future. Accept your past and discuss it positively.

    [I rarely have suet in the house. For dumplings, I just pop the butter in the freezer for 20 minutes and shave off what is required, before returning it to the fridge.]

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