Clegg ups his street credibility

NICK Clegg's “admission” that he had slept with “no more than 30 women” doesn't turn him into a randy Lothario unfit to be in charge of one of our main political parties.

Graham Dines

NICK Clegg's “admission” that he had slept with “no more than 30 women” doesn't turn him into a randy Lothario unfit to be in charge of one of our main political parties.

Quite the opposite in fact - his street credibility will have soared for having been around the block a few times.

What he did before he was married is no-one else's business. But as the 41 year-old says he's never been unfaithful to his wife Miriam of eight years, we can only surmise that he had a jolly time at Cambridge University and throughout the 1990s.

It was his decision to be frank about his sex life. In an interview with former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan for the May issue of GQ magazine, he could have declined to answer or simply said “It's none of your business.”

Instead, he replied “I don't think I am particularly brilliant or particularly bad” to the question “Are you good in bed?”

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Single men and women are entitled, more or less, to do what they like before marriage. But for those in the public eye, once they've gone down the aisle, their life quite properly becomes open to scrutiny.

They deserve all the lurid headlines when they pontificate in Parliament on the moral rectitude of others while they themselves are up to the mischief.

That's just what happened to Mark Oaten. He stood for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats in 2006 promoting family values and inviting television cameras into his kitchen to film the family mealtime. When two rent boys with whom he had been romping sold their story to the News of the World, it was the end of Oaten's dream.

It's more than a decade since Tory junior minister David Mellor was exposed in the tabloids for committing adultery dressed in a Chelsea football shirt and it's the best part of five decades since the Macmillan government nearly fell because of the lies of war minister John Profumo over adulterous relationships which involved call girls and the Soviet secret service.

As a nation, we accept the peccadilloes of celebrities - but not politicians. I can't envisage the public ever saying “so what? when MPs and peers get involved in all manner of sexual exploits, especially if the property in which they do it has had its bedroom furnished with the finest linen from Peter Jones, the Sloane Square branch of the John Lewis Partnership, at vast expense to the taxpayers.

BNP POLITICIAN'S REMARKS ON RAPE SINK TO A NEW LOW

MPs from all sides of the Commons joined in condemnation of British National Party politician Nicholas Eriksen who wrote on a far-right blog: “Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible ordeal.

“To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting that force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence. A woman would be more inconvenienced by having her handbag snatched.”

Eriksen was later sacked by the BNP. Under the proportional representation system used for elections to the London Assembly, he could have won a seat if the party's vote share rises to about 8% next month.

FREE HOSPITAL PARKING FOR THE WELSH - FUNDED BY THE TAXPAYER

MOST hospitals in Wales this week scrapped parking fees. The scheme was abandoned by the Welsh Assembly Government a year after it dropped prescription charges - the cost of which has just risen in England by 25p to £7.10 an item in England.

Are we English bitter at yet another unfairness of devolution, which we pay for? You bet we are.

McCAIN PRAISES THE TOUGH DECISIONS WHICH HAVE SHAPED ALL OUR LIVES

AS Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton engage in an abusive and unedifying contest to become the Democrat candidate for the US Presidential election, John McCain has seen off his rivals for the Republican nomination and, at 71 years of age, could be heading for the White House.

What do we know about McCain, who goes to his party's nominating convention after being written off last year? He's an all-American hero, who spent 5½ years being mercilessly punished in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp after his jet fighter had been shot down.

In his about to be published book Hard Call, McCain writes about awareness, foresight, humility, timing, confidence and inspiration - characteristics which he believes have helped world leaders shape and build a better future for all of us.

He devotes the sections of his book to these six benchmark qualities and the people who personify them, such as Winston Churchill, Alexander Graham Bell, astronaut Neil Armstrong, Anwar Sadat, General Douglas MacArthur, former US presidents Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Abraham Lincoln, and a moving story about a fellow prisoner of war.

Churchill is commended for his foresight in shaping the Royal Navy and in developing oil burning ships and big guns so superior that they kept the German fleet in harbour in the early years of the First World War and then ensured later in that conflict that its superdreadnoughts had mastery of the North Sea to enable Britain to defeat the Kaiser.

To Ronald Reagan is ascribed the “bold and controversial policies” that hastened the destruction of the Soviet Union - an “evil empire” in McCain's words. Egyptian leader Sadat had the courage to establish peace between implacable enemies Egypt and Israel, which was to cost him his life at the hands of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

And for Harry Truman, the Democratic US president from 1945 to 1953, there is nothing but admiration for this unlikeliest of heroes, who rose from modest beginnings to give “decisive and wise leadership” and who embraced the moral imperative of protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans which eventually lead to equality for blacks.

No words for Margaret Thatcher, perhaps a surprising omission by a man of the right. And it's hard to fathom just why no space is devoted to Teddy Roosevelt, second only to Lincoln in the list of presidential greats.

Hard Call is published by Gibson Square, price £14.99 (ISBN 978-1906142261 HB).

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