Chris Huhne. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Before we all get too excited about the news from the Chris Huhne trial – and I must admit, my immediate response on Twitter was "Alleluia alleluia alleluia" – I think our gloating ought to be tempered by a bit of sober analysis.
I don't know about you, but in the unlikely event I were ever going to commit an imprisonable offence, it would be probably be along the lines of the one to which Huhne has just pleaded guilty.
Can you imagine the circumstances? I can. You've been through one too many speeding traps at 35 mph and your licence is getting dangerously close to being confiscated. But you sorely need your car for business – as do we all – and one day, while zooming back from the airport, eager to get home, "Flash" another camera blats you and that's it. Game over!
Or is it?
Suddenly it strikes you that your wife – who, after all, is going to suffer just as much as you are if you lose your licence – has a clean slate. If she took the hit instead of you, it would be, essentially, a victimless crime. All right, so technically it would involve perjury, which is a serious offence. But morally would you really be doing such a bad thing?
So this is my problem with the Huhne result. He looks likely to end up with a custodial sentence for a crime which – under certain circumstances – I could quite easily imagine myself committing and which, I imagine, many of you reading this could imagine yourselves committing too.
Which leaves us in a bit of a quandary, doesn't it?
My point is this: Chris Huhne is a politician who has wrought immense damage on Britain – on our economy, on our people, on our landscape. He has done this in ways I need hardly spell out for it is the subject of every other blog post I write. (Though here's one example.) His decisions have helped kill jobs, set back our economic recovery, ravaged our countryside, driven more people into fuel poverty,and enriched grotesque, cynical corporatist rent-seekers even as the rest of us get poorer and poorer. Unlike his motoring offences, these are not victimless crimes.
And this bothers me – and should bother you too, I think – far more than any venial slip Huhne may have committed in his personal life.
There are some very bad dangerous people in politics right now. But it's their policies I want them nailed on, not their personalities.