Sunday, January 22, 2006

What has Mark Done?

Mark Oaten is a member of a very inclusive party. There are heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual, asexual and transgendered members of the party, so the revelations that he allegedly has had both opposite and same gender sexual relationships would not necessarily exclude him from any role in the party.

The fact that his has been unfaithful to a partner is something which is not new. Paddy Ashdown himself admitted to unfaithfulness and remained on as leader and took the party to ever greater electoral success. The fact that this unfaithfulness was with someone of opposite gender to his long term partner was something which while a different slant on the issue, was something which was not in itself insurmountable.

However, the fact that the sexual encounter which caused his resignation was with a rent boy and therefore was paid for and prostitution that causes the problem for which he had to resign. He was the shadow Home Affairs Spokesman and therefore our spokesman on law and order. Prostitution is illegal and therefore we could not have continued with someone in that position who had so blatantly broken the law.

Another concern I do have however is on the wider effect of gay, lesbian or bi-sexual members and potential candidates within the party. Mark has unfortunately opened a whole can of worms about bi-sexuals, and unfortunately by association gays, and promiscuity. The majority of bi-sexuals, gays and lesbians are like the majority of heterosexuals faithful to their partners. By being unfaithful with a member of a different gender to his partner his has made the party open to allegations of sleaze unfortunately. What will this do to bi-sexual or gay/lesbian potential candidates? It might make them less likely to admit it, which is a shame as all three leadership candidates want our election candidates to be a fair reflection of Britain.

Fortunately I don't think it throws us into crisis, nor do I think our party needs too much major reassessing these are just the hyperbole used by the press to sensationalise a situation that a number of private individuals face each year, when it happens to a public figure: you only have to look at Michael Barrymore for an equivalent press hatchet job.

Mark has done the honourable thing under the circumstances for the good of the party. The party will and can survive this. Yes we have had a tough couple of weeks but there are tow indivuals, Charles Kennedy and Mark Oaten, who have both made mistakes that the press has seized upon, neither has seeked to deny or attempt a cover up when confronted. There are people around them who have been greatly affected by these revelations not least themselves. We all should give them time to sort those personal issues out and that includes the press. However, I'm not sure how restrained the fourth estate is going to be to either of them over time.


Anonymous said...

What causes him to resign is that at the very same time that he was having this relationship with a male prostitute, he was persecuting - and condemning as unfit for public service – a certain Judge Roger Davies for paying for sex with a male prostitute … only the Judge wasn’t married and wasn’t cheating.

Mark Oaten condemned himself by his own vicious persecution of others caught doing exactly what he was doing.

Paul Leake said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Leake said...

The Lib Dems have a vital contribution to make on reforming prostitution laws to the benefit of the vulnerable. As Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten would have been leading on that. Obviously that's an untenable position. I just hope that the Lib Dems are still able to say the things that need to be said and don't clam up in embarrassment at the issue. See also

Anonymous said...

Interesting, really. I wonder (cruelly? or not?) if the entire recent LibDem Fiasco might be connected with Oaten's awful public midlife melt-down... Is it possible that without Oaten's sudden and voluble support Kennedy might have gracefully given up earlier, rather than launching that shameful don't-hit-me-i'm-an-alcoholic escape strategy? Will the next act of this drama be Oaten's defection to the Conservative Party, a place (given his oddly un-21st century Liberal behaviour) he might find more congenial? Watch this space....

Angus J Huck said...

Error of law: prostitution is not and has never been illegal in the UK (not since Cromwell's Commonwealth).

Living off the earnings of prostitution, allowing premises to be used for the running of a brothel, soliciting in the street, etc, are collateral crimes associated with prostitution, but prostitution itself is not a crime.

Still on legal matters, by visiting a prostitute in a residential flat, Mark was committing the tort of PRIVATE NUISANCE (Thompson-Schwab v Costaki). Given his vocal hostility to anti-social behaviour, this should concern us.

Also rather worrying is his willingness to risk contracting AIDS and other forms of veneral disease, which he might in turn pass on to others.

I don't really see how you can say that the majority of gays and bisexuals are faithful to a single partner. The evidence does point in the opposite direction. Indeed, gay spokesmen over the years have promoted promiscuity as a defining "gay" behavioural characteristic. As for bisexuals, well, to have sex with both men and women does suppose that one is coupling with more than one person.

In the moral transgression league, I don't think Mark has fallen quite as far as the Reverend Chris Bryant MP, who advertised himself on a gay dating site attired only in a pair of loosely fitting Y-fronts, proclaiming his preference for "a good long f**k". Mark has only been seen fully dressed, as far as I know. And he is miles up the scale from Tom Driberg MP, who routinely performed sexual acts in public lavatories, generally with tramps and assorted denizens of the netherworld. And I don't think Mark has assembled a team of businessmen to shoot anyone's dog.

Stephen Glenn said...

Angus I stand corrented on the point of law. But he was still encouraging an illegal act.

I take it you knowledge of bi-sexuals (and for that matter homosexuals) is rather thin on the practical side as you only seem to quote other sources.

The vast majority are like other members of society, not all their relationships end in full sexual intercourse. People can be bi-sexual and attracted to both men and women yet still be virgins just as there are heterosexuals and homosexuals who are virgins.

Also the vast majority of the people that I know who are homosexual or bisexual are serial monogomists, just like the majority of heterosexuals I know.

In recent years gay spokesmen have actually been promoting relationships not promiscuity for the very reason you ahve mentioned in your post that these categories are amongst the most at risk of STIs.

As for businessmen shooting dogs I believe that particualr court case was overturned by the jury.

Angus J Huck said...

Not quite. The jury acquitted Thorpe and the three others of conspiracy to murder Norman Scott. Even Thorpe himself didn't dispute that Andrew "Gino" Newton was hired to do something to Scott, but he has yet to tell us what that something was.

In the event, Newton murdered Scott's dog, because the animal was frightening him.

You may recall that one of the jurors told the "New Statesman" at the time that he and his colleagues would have been willing to convict on any charge short of conspiracy to murder (rather difficult to prove, given the lack of credibility of the witnesses).

Angus J Huck said...

On your point about "encouraging an illegal act", there is no such crime. The word is "incitement", and the law of incitement is a complete dog's breakfast (blame the judges, not Parliament, for this) - it actually requires an intention to participate in the substantive crime. I don't think Mark incited, or indeed, enouraged anyone to commmit an illegal act. Yes, he "encouraged" a breach of the lease, and he committed a private nuisance. And yes, when two prostitutes were present, the premises was a brothel within the meaning of to SOA, but there was no incitement on Mark's part.

With the proliferation of gay venues in London, one would have thought the need for male prostitutes, and the vile practice of "cottaging", had largely been eliminated.

I certainly don't think Mark's political career should be destroyed by this. As Shirley McLaine once said: "It is better for a President to screw a woman than screw a country."


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