Scrolling through the Wikipedia entries on Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, you cannot help but think that you are reading a list of deleted scenes from The Thick of It or House of Cards. Amongst my personal favourites are the ‘Rushdie Affair’ and ‘Suspension from the House of Commons’ (the first one, that is.)
As I am sure you will have seen, Keith is up to his old tricks again. He has just been suspended from the Commons for six months for being a bit too eager to buy Class-A drugs for some male prostitutes. Oops. With his history, it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s acting in this way – but I think this is rather the point.
The fact that this man has a history of unfortunate events as long as my takeaway order is perhaps not surprising – he is, after all, an MP. What seems extraordinary, though, is that he is still an MP. Despite his abominable track record, Vaz has somehow managed to keep his claws on his constituency (and his expenses forms.)
Maybe this apparent success is because he is, unfortunately, a true man of the people. Leicester’s rate of opiate and crack/cocaine users is 50 per cent higher than the national average, so how can we criticise Keith for trying to better represent some of his more marginalised constituents?
To be serious for a moment; MPs are meant to be the beacons of our community. They are supposed to be figures that we, as constituents and members of the public, can look up to and appreciate, seeing the sacrifices they have made to get to where they are.
This is hard to do when the MP in question seems to have had little impact on the people of this country beside draining their taxes through expenses and spending (or, at least, attempting to spend) his salary on cocaine for some ‘flat decorators’ (his description of his escorts).
The other interesting aspect about this story – which has been brewing for the best part of three years – is that no one seems particularly shocked by its contents in a moral sense. Most of the criticism, as far as I can see, has been from people having a go at Mr. Vaz for undertaking these actions in the position that he is in. Even in this respect he has got off lightly; remember the fall-out from the Profumo affair?
I find this distinction extraordinary. It seems to your humble author that such actions would have been perfectly acceptable had old Keith not been an MP; clearly, it would not have made national news. I think this points to a sad fact in our society; such degenerate actions are not only so commonplace as to be unremarkable, but they are quasi-legitimate and accepted throughout many sections of our culture.
Sure, cocaine use may be frowned upon by some prudes, but the hip young metropolitans can’t get enough of it. Neither can those at the highest echelons of our society; just look at Michael Gove’s revelations about his past love of the stuff during his recent leadership campaign. There’s a reason why it’s known as ‘the rich man’s drug.’
The same goes for Vaz’s use of male prostitutes; what could be more 2019 than that? Why bother with a stable and committed relationship when you can open your smutty Yellow Pages and find something just as good? The whole thing stinks of societal degeneration.
And this is really the crux of my argument. People are shocked that Mr. Vaz acted in this way while he was an MP. I’m simply shocked that he acted in this way at all.
Photo by daliscar1 on Flickr.