William Hague: Myred in Rumour

In the greater scheme of things, does it really matter who William Hague shares a room with? I’m sure his wife, Ffion, would think it does, especially as she’s the one who’s been thrown unceremoniously to the wolves in the name of promoting her husband’s heterosexuality, in the wake of the rumour-mongering hoo-ha over his supposed relationship with special adviser Christopher Myers. I feel for Ffion, caught in a clutches of desperate PR ploy. Promoting a happy marriage is a recipe for disaster if the marriage is not actually happy.

The story floated in the Telegraph last week that a allegations about to be printed by Sunday tabloids would be met with strident legal action potentially alerted the wider audience that to a breaking scandal. This was rash and perhaps too clever.

In this age of the captivating story, the facts of the matter are a lot less interesting than the rumour. The sparks, seeded on the Internet, have kindled a building story that William Hague really is gay, after being photographed with Christopher Myers, in matching sunglasses, having supposedly spent the night together.

The 25 year old special advisor quit yesterday over what he called “malicious and untrue allegations” about his friendship with Hague. The rumour was not a new one to the Commons’ corridors, which had wondered for years about the sexuality of the Boy Wonder of frontline Tory politics.

But in this new media age, the internet has teased the story out of speculative cocoon state and pumped it full of helium, forcing Hague to react defensively by offering up some very personal details about his and his wife’s difficulties with conceiving children. Numerous miscarriages later, their marriage is otherwise a happy one, it transpires. Put some sympathy in to the mix, and you’re on to a winner.

But that hasn’t stopped a flurry of speculations, retractions, disagreements and combative viewpoints reaching the media as news, all culled from a single rumour. Last week, the story that any allegations about to be printed by the Sunday tabloids would be met with strident legal action even floated in the Telegraph, meaning that a much wider potential audience for this breaking ‘scandal’ stood to attention like so many media-savvy Bisto kids.

It may well have been a rash decision to suggest such strident action would be forthcoming, as it feels as if there are too many people working too hard to bury this story. Hague’s press and media team are seemingly out of joint.

What they’re forgetting is that, in the 21st Century, the Hogarthian unwashed care little whether an MP is gay or straight. What they do care about is honesty and credibility. In an internet era where conspiracy theories breed like bacteria on blogs and the social networks, fascinated speculation is the order of the day and it has to be managed with care. If a ‘perfect’ marriage is not so perfect, expect a critical backlash.