William Hague: perhaps not so naive after all
The Mole: The storm seems to have passed - so was his personal statement not such a horrible error?
Did William Hague, much vilified by Tory colleagues and PR experts for going "over the top" with his personal statement last week, actually get it right? Lord Tebbit called Hague naïve, others leaked that he had been strongly advised by party strategists not to do it, while former tabloid editors warned of the horrors to come.
But Hague took his own counsel. He told the British public there was no truth in the rumours of a gay affair with Chris Myers, that he loved his wife and, indeed, she had suffered several miscarriages in their attempt to start a family.
Now, the Sunday papers have been and gone and, apart from a rather desperate attempt by the Mail on Sunday to fan the flames (of which more later), there were no ghastly disclosures from the pasts of either Hague himself or his erstwhile special adviser.
In short, the 'two-in-a-bedroom' story does not appear to have legs and the Cabinet - apart from those who might have been eyeing up the Foreign Secretary's job - will be breathing a sigh of relief.
But, of course, the residual damage is never entirely brushed away after an episode like this - even one that comes and goes in a week.
As James Forsyth, the political editor of the Spectator, moonlighting for the Mail on Sunday, wrote: "One senior MP tells me the parliamentary party doesn't give a monkey's about the Myers 'stuff' but says the absence of a 'chorus of support' illustrates a disappointment with Hague's performance as Foreign Secretary."
Until the story blew up, Hague had been considered the obvious caretaker successor to the PM when Cameron is hit by the proverbial bus (no - you can't have it, Clegg). But that, says Forsyth, is no longer the case. As one Tory put it, "He's fine for being Foreign Secretary, but he's damaged goods."
So, yes, Hague might decide at the next election that life's too short to go on being a badly-paid politician for ever, if you're never going to get the top job.
In the meantime, the Mail had a final throw of the dice, reporting on a fact-finding trip Hague and Myers made together to Afghanistan.
It was at a time when the young man was working for Hague without pay while he waited to join his mentor's Foreign Office team. As an FO spokesman told the Mail, "If you want to learn about foreign relations, then going on these trips is an excellent way to do so".
The catch - and what gave the Mail the excuse to make a story out of it - was that 'friends' of Myers are apparently saying he received expensive gifts from Hague - including a silk scarf, no less - in lieu of a salary and that on the way back from Afghanistan they stayed for two nights at a five-star hotel in Bahrain, where Hague had a meeting with foreign minister Sheikh Khalid.
Only 12 paragraphs into the two-page report does the Mail rather sheepishly disclose: "They had separate rooms".
As for the News of the World, the first port of call for any scandal-hungry fellow politician, especially after the warning from a previous editor that the Sunday papers "would be crawling all over" Myers's private life - not a dickie-bird.
Of course, News of the World reporters disguised in black leather and fake moustaches may still be "crawling all over" this story, but for the moment all they have is a regular columnist, Carole Malone, proclaiming:
"I don't care if William Hague is gay, straight or sleeps with horses. However, I DO mind him using his wife Ffion's miscarriages to manipulate..." Yada, yada, yada, as Jerry Seinfeld would have said. ·
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