The Shed is generally inclined to feel sorry for Brooks Newmark, the MP who resigned after sending a picture of his willy to a male journalist posing as a bit of fluff with the hots for middle-aged Tories.
There has been speculation that he was targeted because he had known form but it’s a fair bet that anyone who takes selfies for sexting wearing paisley pyjamas is new to the game.
In case The Shed’s opinion on the affair is ever required, it has filed some useful quotes from the ever-sensible Zoe Williams, who questioned the need for the sad bugger to resign his job in the Guardian of 28.9.14:
“Newmark wasn’t harassing the ‘woman’; he was the victim of a sting operation. It is in the nature of those scams that you only ever hear one side’s humiliating impropriety; you never find out what the ‘journalist’ said to draw them out. But if we know the journalist sent the first photo, we know that it wasn’t the MP’s idea. I don’t think fancying someone who seems to fancy you, even someone much younger who isn’t real, contravenes any feminist principle …
“The MP is married and a father of five, and of course it isn’t ideal to conduct such a vigorous flirtation in those conditions, but I cannot see this as an all-out attack on family values …
“We’ve reached a point with politicians and their sexual morality that is so abstruse, so distant from the real codes we live by, that the result is a kind of moralising arms race: if in doubt, take the dimmest possible view. But everything is in doubt, so the disapproval roars thunderously.
“In what other job would a person who’d had an affair have to resign? Where else is sexual conduct considered anybody’s business but that of the parties involved?
“In the outside world, human relationships are viewed with nuance and sophistication. It is tacitly agreed that honesty is better than dishonesty, that infidelity is painful and self-seeking, that it would be better if everyone honoured the promises they’d made, forever; it is also understood that sometimes the heart wants what it wants and that erring is human. People are not shunned or shamed.
“Politicians get no such licence. They can exhibit no personal dishonesty that doesn’t mar all their public utterances. They can’t really be human, and then they are despised for seeming so distant, so unrecognisable. They bring it on themselves with their unquestioning adherence to 19th-century norms; but we perpetuate it too, with foolish outrage that couldn’t even be tracked back to a coherent set of principles.
“Newmark is the man who said charities should stick to knitting. He was sneering and uninformed in his civil society role, and I would have given anything to see him leave. But not for this. This is what really degrades public life, being unable, en masse, to distinguish the petty from the meaningful.”