John Stonehouse paved the way for today’s sleazy Tory MPs – only he didn’t get away with it | Catherine Bennett

JUlia Stonehouse, daughter of the late MP, doesn’t like her portrayal in new ITV dramatization, Stone house. She says it makes her conduct look like, which she attributes, like her father, to a breakdown, “that of an unlucky madman”.

You see his point of view. For some reason, Stonehouse, brilliantly played by Matthew Macfadyen, seems so silly that it’s hard to understand how the real con man organized a convincing disappearance in Miami and, almost, a new life with his secretary-lover. This administrative feat forced him, while deceiving his family, to move money by multiplying bank accounts and to steal – after having personally deceived their widows – the identity of two men who died prematurely, before fraudulently obtaining passports in their name. Plus tickets, hotels, a tough Australia getaway.

Yet given the choice between having your late father unjustly portrayed as a sometimes sentimental jester and as a cunning, priapic, greedy, insensitive traitor and hypocrite whose ridiculous excuses fooled neither his contemporaries nor his trial judge, some children might prefer the former. by Julia Stonehouse own book about his father includes a scene, after his mother objected to his girlfriend, Sheila Buckley, joining their post-death reunion in Australia, in which “my mother was face down and my father was bent over, grabbed her hair and used to bump her head up and down”. Ms Stonehouse tried to phone for help: “He then unplugged the phone cord from its socket and started hitting my mum on the head with the handset. It broke, smashing on the ground. Then he put his hands around her throat and started banging her head against the wall.

But the generosity of the ITV creators in omitting this and other non-comic details pales in comparison to the reputational benefits conferred on the Stonehouse family by the state of the current Conservative Party. Only if Boris Johnson Had he remained Prime Minister, still under investigation by the Privileges Committee, could there have been a better time for a deceased MP to have his three-quarters forgotten scandal held up for a lenient inspection.

In comparison to the recently exposed and censored – but still seated – MPs Stonehouse looks as funny as the vintage telephones that appear to such effect in ITV’s fun addition to 1970s political satire. , you might see his account as proof that the lamented “chapocracyas Peter Hennessy called the days before David Cameron, Johnson, Liz Truss and their creatures flourished, wasn’t all that noble. Stonehouse was imprisoned for seven years. But given Johnson’s legacy, Stonehouse’s fraudulent attempts to fix his finances are no worse ethically, one might think, than massive debt to a donor or taking an allowance from a company in exchange for secret lobbying. The current punishment for the former being non-existent; for the latter a temporary suspension.

The staging of his death was of course a distinct trough. His public love triangle is no better. Then again, so much Stonehouse-type behavior is now condoned or positively normalized at Westminster that its recognition as a role model seems long overdue. As this far from exhaustive list of his accomplishments shows, Stonehouse could claim to be just as inspiring a figure to MPs as Winston Churchill.

Adulterately fuck a colleague more than 20 years younger than him? Thanks to Johnson, the Stonehouse practice is now acceptable to senior executives being asked look for career opportunities for the favorite.

Neglect voters. Today, Johnson calls it a career.”hiatus”. Matt Hancock said paid time to eat unusual organ meats would show everyone his “human side”.

Drunk sex with prostitutes on investigative tours. In Stone house, this is hilariously portrayed in the former Czechoslovakia. Last month, a Politics investigation completed his successors had “used parliamentary trips abroad as an opportunity for the covert use of sex workers and for loud and excessive drinking”.

National security. In the 1970s, Stonehouse seemed content to visit his Soviet contacts, instead of courting them publicly. In 2015, after Russia annexed Crimea, then London Mayor Boris Johnson felt able to welcome his boss and friend, the ex-KGB agent’s son , Evgeny Lebedev, as well as a known ally of Putin, Mikhail Piotrovsky, stipulating that the couple should ignore security At the mayor. Piotrovsky, who still runs the Hermitage Museum, likens his outreach work to the invasion of Ukraine, “some kind of special operation”.

Lack of shame. Stonehouse should take credit for initiating while out on bail (and Johnson still in prep school) the now-established Tory practice of not quitting. It is standing on the shoulders of this giant that a faulty deputy defies the status of pariah, preferring to accuse his accusers. Owen Paterson, responsible for “a blatant act of paid advocacy”, hopes to overwhelm the European Court of Human Rights with various criticisms against the standards committee. Meanwhile, as Johnson’s supporters push for his resignation, we find David Warburton among seven MPs now sitting as independents. Pending a new judgment, he was recently censorship for not declaring a loan to a businessman of Russian origin, Roman Zhukovsky. (The money was to help Warburton buy a £1.2million rectory to use as Airbnb.)

Poor mental health as an excuse for bad behavior. What once sounded like a novel – Stonehouse first claimed to have committed “psychiatric suicide” – has become a relatively familiar tactic, especially employed by MP Jamie Wallace after fleeing the scene of a car accident. The judge was not convinced.

If the dramatized Stonehouse scandal finally seemed a little tame, it was never going to help that, as Hennessy and Proliferate suggested. misconduct claims confirm, “the current political environment tends to elevate ‘guys’ who are less inclined to be ‘good'”. That he broke every Nolan principle introduced after his lifetime would place Stonehouse, today, in elated political company.

Certainly, his fake death and attempted disappearance have not yet been imitated, even by his most degenerate parliamentary soul mates. Pity.

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