Sally Bercow attracted some undeserved attention this week when she was caught kissing a man who is not her husband. The newspapers were divided between pitying and scorning this woman, mother and wife of Houses of Parliament speaker John Bercow.
The Twittersphere was alight with people condemning her behaviour as inappropriate, from posing in a bed sheet several years ago, to making an appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. She has become, off the back of her antics, a minor celebrity: a self-described z-lister. So why are people holding her to account for her actions, as if, as the wife of a politician, she should somehow be held up as a model of decorum?
Surely Bercow, who has three children, one of whom suffers from autism, should be allowed to cut loose from the shackles of the unimaginable boredom of being a politician's wife every now and again and behave as she damn well chooses.She tweeted that the pictures were taken out of context and that her marriage was solid, if not perfect. But why does it even matter?In short, why was this on the front page of the Sun?
Sally Bercow has never made any secret of having a fun-loving and perhaps even alternative outlook. Whatever her marriage may or may not be, she is presenting a relatively united front with her husband whilst he is in office, as well as raising their children together. But whatever else goes on behind closed doors is quite simply, between the two of them.
Perhaps she has an open relationship (although the fact she is wearing a wig in the pictures does rather make it look as though she is up to no good).
Perhaps diminutive John rather likes being put in his place by his larger than life other half (as is often the case where a person holds high office, in their private life the opposite rings true).
Who knows, but the point is, who cares?
Surely it's more perverted to speculate about a person's private life simply because they are in the public eye. Sally Bercow has never held herself up a squeaky clean role model, so why on earth should we be surprised when she doesn't behave like one. Rather than feeling sorry for her husband, it's surely better to admire him for keeping someone with Bercow's indomitable spirit tamed, at least most of the time.
The presence of a woman like Bercow is a breath of fresh air in the stuffy corridors of power, and it should be seen as a positive wind of change. I'm not saying she's necessarily right to gad about snogging people left right and centre. But I am saying that we should allow our politicians (and their non-elected spouses) the odd indiscretion here and there and let them get away with it - as long as they don't start telling the rest of us how to live.
Why is marriage, and monogamy at that, still held up as the abiding principal we want upheld from our leaders (and their non-elected spouses?) Why are we so retrograde about our politicians? Why do we expect them to have conservative spouses, whichever political flag they might be flying?
After all, the last thing we should require of our leaders is that they have a little wifey stuck at home with their mouths shut in support of their husbands careers, pretending to be something they are not for the sake of appearances. After all, monogamy is not a necessarily a prerequisite of a happy marriage or partnership. And morality clearly has never been a pre-requisite for our leaders, so perhaps the red tops should stop pretending it is, and let Sally get on with whatever and whoever it is that she may or may not be getting on with.
The sooner we recognise that we're all as fallible as each other, the sooner we might actually have a government in power that instigates policies the rest of us can live by.