Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for May 6th, 2007

The Moral Is: Don’t Lie!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 6th May, 2007

john-browne.jpgThe Mail on Sunday today has yet more revelations about John Browne and his pillow-talk with his former Canadian lover, whom he met through an online escort agency (and not while out jogging, as he foolishly declared in court). The associated scandal has sent ‘Britain’s most successful businessman’ scurrying from his job, and produced an interesting mix of predictable prurience from the general public (fuelled by the media) and robust personal support from many quarters, including a long tally of prominent City, Arts and political figures, who signed a letter in yesterday’s Guardian. To much of the outside world, all this must seem a typical case of British hypocrisy and muck-raking. But it ain’t as simple as that.

I think a couple of points are worth making. The first is that while the City maintains a superficially macho culture (‘let’s get pissed and then go off to a pole-dancing club, lads’), underneath attitudes have been subtly changing, in a positive, liberal way — as Lord Browne had discovered, as he took his boyfriend along to both business and official social functions. But even more important, neither the City nor the British public will put up with lies, from businessmen or from politicians. Both business and politics rest on trust; a man’s or woman’s word should be his/her bond. Moreover, the case of Oscar Wilde (who at least had the excuse of living at a time when homosexuality was illegal, but who helped bring about his own downfall by lying in court, initially on the trivial matter of his age), is so well known that it should have served as a warning. But as I have often reflected in the past, the one thing one learns from history is that no-one learns from history.  

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