Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A guide to Liberal scandals

The last time the Liberal Democrats were consumed by scandal was during the leadership election that followed Charles Kennedy's defenestration.

At the time, as a service to the readers of Liberal Democrat News, I devoted a House Points column to a guide to Liberal scandals of the past:
Take Sir Charles Dilke, once the great hope of the Radicals and a possible successor to Gladstone. In 1885 Dilke was cited in a divorce case. He protested his innocence, but when he produced his diary in court it had holes cut in many of the pages. He claimed this was his usual practice after completing an engagement. It did not save his career. 
Then there is Horatio Bottomley, financier and publisher – the Edwardian Robert Maxwell. This Liberal MP served five years for his swindles. Found working on mailbags by a visitor, he was asked, “Sewing, Bottomley?” “No, reaping,” he famously replied. 
A more exotic figure is Trebitsch Lincoln. Parris sums him up: “Fraudster, spy, Anglican curate, German revolutionary, journalist, secret agent, international outlaw, Chinese cult leader and – in 1910 – Liberal MP for Darlington.” 
Passing rapidly over Loulou Harcourt, who had amassed Europe’s largest collection of child pornography by the time of his suicide in 1922, we come to Mr Gladstone himself.
You can read the whole column on this blog.

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