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Home > Politics

A parliament of whores

7 March 2005

Earlier this week, 55-year-old trainee barrister, Oxford graduate and alleged monarchist Christine Wheatley was on a shortlist of seven candidates fighting for the right to represent the Labour Party in the Lake District constituency of Copeland. Then the powers-that-be got wind of an interview she'd given to a local paper in which she mentioned a former career as a Paris hooker. And that was that. It was all over.

New Labour wants nothing more to do with Christine Wheatley. It is believed that Tony himself had ordered the withdrawal of her candidacy, declaring, 'If there's going to be anyone round here with morals loose enough to hop into bed with dirty foreign men for financial gain, then it's going to be me.' Before adding, 'And the rest of us.'

However, a spokesman for the Labour Party wanted to make it absolutely clear that Wheatley's exclusion had nothing to do with morality - after all, they still allow that pustule of porn Campbell to ooze around the corridors of power. Official line is that the real problem was that Wheatley had been given ample
opportunity to disclose 'all the facts that might be relevant to her candidature', and had patently failed to do so. But was it? And had she?

The presumption is clearly that because she once worked as a prostitute, Christine Wheatley could not possibly have the moral integrity to serve as a Labour MP. It really is a terrible insult.

Surely, the fact that she has led a life less ordinary, and has had to struggle to survive in a foreign city would make her, if anything, a wiser and more open-minded politician. Indeed, perhaps this is the crux of the problem. After all, we can't have wisdom and open-mindedness seeping back into the Labour Party. It tends to lead to dissent. And dissent just makes things difficult. On a related theme it was announced yesterday that Jack Cunningham - the recently-retired MP for none other than Copeland in the Lake District - has made a list of loyal former cabinet ministers to be nominated for a peerage by Tony Blair.

Meanwhile outgoing MPs who have spoken out against Blair's war-whoring have all been rather pettily ignored. The moral is clear then, and it isn't very moral: toe the line, and you'll be fine; step out of line, and you can fuck off. So perhaps Ms Wheatley was disqualified solely on the grounds that years of whoring and selling encyclopaedias might have forced her to develop a mind of her own.

But then it's probably not that well thought through. Probably it's just a bland, short-sighted, hypocritical take on Christian morality. But without the forgiveness part. Plus of course, the fact that Wheatley is wholly unrepentant can't help. 'It was very gay,' she says. 'I was living on the Left Bank - Paris in the 1970s, and I was a delightful young woman.' She also makes the following rather salient point: 'We have single mothers who want to be MPs, gay and lesbian candidates, so why not former sex workers?' Why not indeed? Sorry to harp on about Campbell, but it is important to remember that he is also a former sex worker, although of a less honourable hue.

And while we're at it, why don't we toss aside any antiquated puritanical quibbles we might harbour and actively recruit people into politics who've led interesting lives and seen a bit of the world? Would a cabinet of ex-cons, reformed junkies and one-time-whores not make for a less reactionary, less self-interested and less impotent political force for real social change than Blair's bunch of spineless bogeys? Of course it would. Don't even think about it. Why, you could toss in a couple of paedos and they'd smell a lot healthier than this lot.

Whether Christine Wheatley would have made a decent politician or not is anyone's guess. A bizarre fascination with the Queen is enough to raise doubts, but she should at least have been given a fair crack of the whip.

In excluding her from the race to Copeland, New Labour have shown themselves to be every bit as small minded as the Tories and every bit as spineless as the Liberal Democrats. We hope they are suitably disgusted with themselves.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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