On the whole I am not an admirer of the right wing of the Liberal Party and so I have never had much time for Mark Oaten, though he seemed to me to do a good job giving grief to the Labour Government on its indefensible proposals to detain suspected terrorists without trial.
As we all know, Mr Oaten has been forced to withdraw from his position as the Home Affairs spokesperson for the Liberals because of revelations by a Sunday newspaper about his private life. My thoughts on this are not terribly original, but I should like nonetheless to stand up and be counted:
- There is precisely no public interest in Mr Oaten’s relationships. I do not care who he does or does not have any kind of sex with. It is shameful that the News of the World should publish it, and even more shameful that anybody should buy such a newspaper and so reward them for having done so.
- It is ridiculous to describe a 23 year-old man as a "rent boy". The term is presumably intended to link homosexuality to child abuse, and it is outrageous that it has been used in this case.
- The bloggers who claim to have contributed to making this story public should be ashamed of themselves. (Actually, as far as I can see the NoW ran a different story than the one that the bloggers put into their podcast, so it seems as if the claim is self aggrandisement). We bloggers should be standing up to the mainstream media, not joining it in the gutter. (Doctorvee and Chicken Yoghurt are both right on this.)
- The suggestion that Mr Oaten should not stand as a candidate for Parliament at the next election is absurd. On the contrary: whoever wins the leadership of the Liberal Party should defy the newspapers and restore Mr Oaten as a Front Bench spokesperson. They are supposed to be liberals, for chrissake. I hope the public would rather admire a party that simply ignored irrelevant and prurient interest in his private life.