Focus: Westminster The ghost of Gladstone stirs: a whiff of scandal in the airBMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6924.294a (Published 29 January 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:294
- J Warden
The British government spent the first weeks of 1994 trying to distance itself from scandals, real or rumoured, on its own doorstep. A potent mix of shady sex, shaky marriages, and sharp deals brought in its wake the resignation of two ministers and a ministerial aide, one suicide, and a reappraisal of the government's “back to basics” philosophy.
When the froth subsided it was seen to be a very British crisis with little of substance behind it. Just as the medical establishment used to pillory doctors more for sleeping with their patients than for killing them through neglect, so British politicians are forced to resign over marital indiscretions but not for misjudgments that waste huge sums of taxpayers' money. To appreciate the relative values, compare the column inches devoted to the extramarital affair of the former health minister, Tim Yeo, and the modest coverage of £30m …