I’ve been mulling the furore around Sasha Swire’s Diary of an MP’s Wife and it’s got me thinking about the mechanics which lead, firstly, to hangers-on attempting to heave their entire social circle under the bus for their 15 minutes, and secondly, to figures in power allowing this to happen through their own arrogance and carelessness.
Firstly, Sasha herself. The weekend’s media blitz gave off the overwhelming stench of winging it. She’s thrown the baby out with the bathwater in an attempt to make as big a splash as possible. But what will this do for her career long term? She’ll do the supplement and sofa rounds as long as the book is interesting tittle, followed by the standard reality show tour, and then the ‘woe is me, all my friends hate me’ encore.
Then what? She’s not so much burned bridges as sparked a wildfire without considering that there’s a reason these people onto whose coattails she spent so many years clinging wield the power they do. Incompetent and unpopular they may be, they still have ample connections to put the kibosh on any attempt at a sequel, and make sure that she never walks in certain circles again. And will it be worth it? None of the likes of Sally Bercow, Karen Danczuk or Petronella Wyatt have ever stuck the knife quite as far in as Sasha and how much time do any of us spend thinking about any of them?
Then there are the Cameroons. Our mate Dave was able to laugh off Michael Ashcroft’s ‘Pig’s Head’ biography as a hatchet job, but Swire – someone who was genuinely and demonstrably in his inner circle- has painted an altogether more plausible and more damaging picture of an upper class oaf lamenting on the waning of his own relevance. Figures in power seem to pin their reputations on a strain of omerta which simply doesn’t exists anymore. There are so many avenues through which the self-serving and opportunistic can stab them in the back.
Let’s not overestimate the impact of this book – it’s a flash in the pan, but one which will burn a lot of fingers precisely because nobody involved has done any sort of deep thinking about their reputation or legacy.