Westminster Bubbles – can any politician cast the first stone?

Following the resignation of Health Secretary Matt Hancock over breaching Covid regulations in connection with an extra-marital affair, Westminster and Fleet Street rumour mills are working overtime.

The two frontbenchers most in the spotlight are Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove. Coincidentally Rayner has been responsible for shadowing Gove ever since Labour’s misfired reshuffle.

But the rumours have nothing to do with politics.

Rayner split up from her husband, union official Mark Rayner, last year and has for some time been very close to her former campaign manager, Ilford MP Sam Tarry – a former employee of the ‘anti-racist charity’ Hope not Hate. Both Tarry and Rayner are married with children: indeed Rayner (though only 41) is a grandmother.

Hope not Hate boss Nick Lowles sprang to Tarry’s defence before the 2019 election when his former aide was accused of having links to ‘antisemites’ in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

At least Rayner and Tarry are involved in a straightforward, old-fashioned, extramarital affair.

The Tory scandals are far more exotic, involving swingers’ parties, cocaine, and perhaps their very own Philip Schofield about to ‘out’ himself.

Michael Gove reporting for the BBC on a Gay Pride march in 1993

Covid regulations make this sort of thing much more complicated: at one time a Tory MP might have thought ‘lockdown’ had something to do with Miss Whiplash in a Shepherd Market flat. But now even the highest in the land are subjected to the Daily Mail‘s middle-class morality.

Fortunately for Michael Gove (who once shared a flat with gay businessman Ivan Massow and gay Tory Nick Boles) a large part of the British media belongs to Rupert Murdoch, who has always seen Gove as his man – so you can guarantee that whatever stories break this week, they won’t be Sun exclusives!

Mr Gove has in some respects always been proud of swinging both ways. In February this year he was challenged in the House of Commons about his claims to have sung The Sash, but professed that in addition to this loyalist anthem he also sang the republican favourite Fields of Athenry and the Scottish nationalist Flower of Scotland.

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