It used to the case, pre-internet, that a gentleman’s affairs were his own business. No longer. For some weeks now, or so we are told, rumours were circulating on the internet that William Hague was gay and was having an affair with a young man he met during the General Election campaign. Further we are told that rumours about his sexuality had been in existence for a much longer time.
Who cares, might have been the response. A person’s sexuality is his own business. Various studies in recent years suggest that 7-10 % of the population is gay in some sense of the word. In a Cabinet of 25 people 2-3 members may be gay. Given the predominance of a boarding school, single sex, education in a Tory Cabinet, perhaps half a dozen. Should they all be outed?
It used to be thought in the days when a homosexual act could be a criminal offence that a Cabinet Minister who was a closet gay posed a security risk. William Hague is the Foreign Secretary. But a Minister only became a risk if he did not admit to being gay. Of course to admit it at times of repression presented difficulties. Even today David Laws preferred to keep silent about his male partner on an important matter and suffered a political price for his need for discretion. Men will behave differently according to their upbringing and sensitivities.
Is William Hague’s sexuality of any interest (other than prurience) to anyone? It may be. If his partner obtained a job paid for directly or indirectly by the taxpayer which, but for William Hague’s friendship, he could not have obtained (that in some sense he had jumped a queue) that makes it a matter of public interest – but not of much consequence.
There is a broader issue. Is William Hague a dishonest man. Does he pretend to be one thing and turn out to be quite another? Is he, or has he, in his public attitudes to homosexuality, acted hypocritically? Is he still pretending to be one thing while being another? If this is so, a tolerant British public might become annoyed. Be honest with us, William, might be the plea. Now William Hague has been categorical about his position. If he has told the truth the door has been shut. The public will know the outcome of this drama soo enough. What is it worth for a 25 year old man, his mum or his school chums to give an exclusive story to the News of the World? A cricketing scam might cost £150,000. What is the price of a lurid political drama in September 2010? Whatever the price, and it will be a high one, who should we blame for the publicity? Is it ‘the internet’, the Red Top rags, or the public school system of all-male education? Is it our fault? If you think the latter, shame on you for reading this blog.