Thursday, 29 January 2009

Tory Swinger found (again)

According to the latest Popbitch, one of the "big questions" that people are asking this week is "Which London Conservative has a secret past running group sex parties?"

I assume they're referring to long-time Cameron speechwriter Dougie Smith, whose double life as organiser for the posh swingers club "Fever Parties" was exposed in the Sunday Times as long ago as 2003. The paper luridly described a typical evening in which "up to 50" well-heeled couples would meet in discreet locations in central London, "mingle over drinks and canapés served by waiters in a candlelit lounge", before heading off to the bedrooms to have random sexual encounters.

In those days, Dougie was co-ordinator of think tank Conservatives for Change and a close aide to Francis Maude. Confronted with the scandalous evidence, however, he was unrepentant:


I have never made a secret about the fact that I run both Cchange and Fever. The two things don't overlap and therefore do not pose a problem. Fortunately we're living in the 21st century and even naturally censorious people tend to feel slightly self-conscious about wagging their fingers at what consenting adults do behind closed doors.


Ann Widdecombe was not amused. "I take a dim view of that sort of behaviour," she declared. Which would have come as a tremendous surprise to the many people who had Widdy down as a secret swinger. Other than that slap on the wrists from someone not exactly in the "modernising" mainstream, though, there were few political consequences for Mr Smith, a former associate and gambling chum of Sir Jimmy Goldsmith. Smith may have been of the Right, but he had never pretended to be of the Religious Right: if anything, his combination of entrepreneurialism, metropolitan swank and laisser-faire sexual standards portended the exciting Tory rebirth that David Cameron would shortly inaugurate. The story died.

In any case, it's all several years in the past. More recently, Smith has been linked with Boris Johnson's glamorous cultural commissar Munira Mirza. [And, indeed, they are now married - thanks to whoever pointed that out.]

The real question, then, isn't which Conservative has a secret sexy past, but why is this old and (at the time) extremely well-publicised story being dredged up - and by whom? Lord Byron - who knew a thing or two about gossip - once commented that "dead scandals form good subjects for dissection": but if no-one cared in 2003, are they any more likely to care today? Does it represent the first stirrings of a recession era revulsion against the excesses of the past decade? Or is it just that someone heard about it for the first time and assumed they must be in possession of a news bombshell?

6 comments:

Letters From A Tory said...

Is it just me, or does Ann Widdecombe disliking something immediately make it sound more appealing?

Edwin said...

The latter i think, though it's hard to tell. The Dubai sewage story keeps popping up as if it were new - a good story but clearly newspapers have pages to fill and they know that most who have read it will have forgotten about it. If it's a stir though, my guess is that it came from his own party.

Widdie is reminiscent of GK Chesterton - not in her prose or one assumes her verse (what would her verse be like?), but in her quite emotional denunciation of the differently pleasured.

AN Wilson in the current TLS mentions (again) that Muggeridge told him that EC Bentley suspected that Chesterton was a repressed homosexual, which would explain his hatred of the 1890s and figures such as Wilde.

This who protest too much should not of course complain about speculation from the rest of us, and MS Widdecombe should read Lear from time to time perhaps.

The same issue of the TLS also has a very good review of the new biography of Edward Carpenter - points out that in many parts of Victorian and Edwardian society same-sex liasons were not that uncommon.

Most of us don't care what consenting adults do and probably never have.

Anonymous said...

Smith Linked with Mirza?

Is the Queen linked to Prince Philip? Was Maggie linked to Dennis? Is Dave linked to Samantha?

JPT said...

"Which London Conservative has a secret past running group sex parties?"

Which HASN'T, more like.

David Gerard said...

We're talking about Popbitch here, which makes the Daily Star look like the Columbia Journalism Review. Column B, I should think.

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