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Question Of The Day

How Important to the Running of Britain are Politicians' Sex Lives?

"It’s titillation, isn’t it?"

Photo by Medill DC

Sex and politics go together like bread and butter, because politicians are really sexy. They can't help it, there's just something about them that oozes sex appeal. But sometimes sex and politics get mixed up in the wrong way, like when Bill Clinton ruined America by having a rumpy session, and suddenly you can't move for tabloid scandal about the personal lives of people who are in charge of how much an Oyster card weighs, or something. We asked the British public: How important to the running of Britain are politicians' sex lives?


Cassandra, 25, shop assistant: I guess it’s a matter of morals. If they’ve got no morals in their personal lives, what’s to stop that from having an impact on the way they treat the rest of the country?

VICE: Maybe politicians should be forced into celibacy, like priests. That seems to work out well.
I just think if you know you’re going to be a celebrity – or someone with power, like a politician – you take on a role where people look up at you. So, I’m sorry – you’ve got to keep it together. You have a responsibility. You need to do things in a respectful way.

So it's their fault, not ours for prying?
No. We're awful gossipers. Ever since celebrity came into being, we kind of thrive on other people’s misery. I think that’s why it’s such a big thing here.

Ah. It's everyone's fault.

Ben, 21, scaffolder: Yeah I suppose fairly important, there’s other things to worry about though.

Why do you think everyone loves scandal more than the important stuff?
Maybe because nobody has anything else to focus on. Maybe people are just trying to do their jobs by writing about this stuff. In general we’re a bit nosy, aren’t we? I don’t know. I honestly don’t have a clue. Useful. Have you ever judged a politician on rumours you've read about them?
No, not at all. Everyone’s got their own personal life, they can do whatever they want, really. I’m not into politics, I just go with it.

I don't recommend that.


Naira, 20, music student: I don’t really think it affects anything, really.

Why do people care about it?
It’s just about selling newspapers – the scandals and stuff. In Spain, we don’t really focus on politicians' sex lives. I don’t really think it affects anything, really. To me, it seems like a way of distracting you from what’s important.

So it's worse here?
I think people are less open about sex in the UK. I don’t know – maybe it’s this whole thing about being proper.

Has a Spanish politician’s sex life ever hit the news?
Not at all. Now it’s all about corruption and stuff, not about sex or anyone’s private lives. I do remember, like, three years ago they tried that angle with the previous president’s family, about his daughters. It didn’t go anywhere because everyone was like…

"No-one cares?"
Yeah, exactly.

How mature.

Paul, 49, market stall owner: Well, I don’t think it’s very important to the running of Britain. It’s titillation, isn’t it? It’s interesting. It’s stuff that people like to read about. It may not be important, but I’m sure people love to read it

Would you change your opinion about a politician based on their private lives?
I might, actually. It depends. If they were saying one thing in public and doing something else in private, then yeah, that would have a bearing on how I look at them, or how I judge what they say, how genuine I thought they were. So, in that way, it would definitely influence my decision.

Is it a question of trust, then?
I guess so. You should be able to trust them to a degree. But human nature is such that you can’t ever put too much trust in anyone.

That's deep, Paul. Too deep for a Tuesday.

Previously – Would You Defend Your Partner if You Found Out They were a Terrorist?