Today’s Daily Mirror is reporting that, over the summer, Tory environment spokesman Greg Barker MP left his wife and two children because of a relationship with another man. Mr Barker has issued a statement confirming his separation from his wife but asserting that he is "not in a current relationship."
The Mirror suggests that there might be hypocrisy in Mr Barker’s behaviour. The left-wing newspaper reports:
"Political website The Public Whip, which evaluates the voting record of individual MPs, has given Barker a pro-gay score of just 30.2% compared to an anti-gay rating of 60.1%."
This is obviously a personal tragedy for Mrs Barker and her two children. That is the most important aspect of this news.
Politically it will remind many voters of the ‘Back to Basics’ chapter of the Major government when the private failings of individual MPs were exposed at the same time that John Major was represented as advocating a return to ‘traditional values’.
The key challenge for David Cameron is to continue to assert the pro-marriage agenda that characterised his party conference speech and not allow the media to say that the failure of individuals to live up to their public vows undermines the vital social importance of the institution of marriage. Britain desperately needs a political party that has the courage to build healthy marriages and not another one that surrenders in the face of family breakdown and the misery it causes.
Related link: The public interest in private vices