Monday, September 12, 2011

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Butler hacking

All technologies have their drawbacks, of course. Make no mistake: I welcome the development of the mobile telephone and I am pleased to see that the latest ALDC guidance recommends its use over the conventional field telephone in all but the most compact urban wards. With it, however, has come the development of “phone-hacking” – an unlovely phenomenon, even if it has led to the welcome demise of the News of the World.

There is, however, as I once observed in one of my more philosophical essays for the High Leicestershire Radical, “nothing new under the sun”. Those of us called to bear the heavy burdens of public life used to go in fear of “butler hacking”. In those days, members of the yellow press would make it their business to find out the public house in which a chap’s butler drank when he was not butling, buy him a pale ale or three, and quiz him as to one’s diary and opinions. More than one cabinet minister was obliged to resign after having his butler hacked.

I, too, fell victim to this practice – not at the Bonkers’ Arms, where anyone poking his nose into what does not concern him would have the dogs set on him – but at another, less well conducted, establishment. Many fair-minded commentators have argued it was the publicity given to my views on Asquith that persuaded him not to include me in his first Cabinet.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West, 1906-10.

Earlier this week

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