Not for the first time I find myself gazing, enraptured and filled with somewhat surprised admiration, at the Old Country.
Her industry maybe crumbling, she may have lost an Empire: she may be chronically unable to make up her mind whether or not she is in Europe.
But my God, she still manufactures a decent sex scandal better than anywhere else.
For those who haven’t caught up, Lord Sewel – a chap whose role involves enforcement of standards of conduct amongst his fellow members of the House of Lords – is on the front of the Sun.
He has been filmed wearing a red bra, a leather jacket, and sniffing cocaine off the breasts of prostitutes, all the while complaining about how little he is paid, and about what an idiot the prime minister is.
This strikes me as being about as British as you can get.
True, these sex scandals are not what they once were. Lord Sewel – ‘Lord Coke’ as the Sun has gleefully dubbed him, and it is gratifying to know there is someone on that publication with an appreciation of the 17th Century jurist – is hardly one of the the blueblooded second sons of an inbred peerage who traditionally get themselves into these situations.
He is a Labour life peer, born in Bradford.
Now, I am not a close student of Burkes Peerage, but I have an idea the Brit caste system means you can’t really be called an aristocrat if you were born in Bradford.
One might express a quiet, private reservation to oneself about the wisdom of Lord Sewel’s use of his leisure time.
What, one might ask, is wrong with a good book, or a bracing walk in the fresh air?
But these are matters of personal choice. It may be, too, that it was the path of duty which led Lord Sewel to don colourful ladies’ undergarments and imbibe white powder off the erogenous zones of other, colourful ladies.
We should not rush to judge here.
I fear some who are charging the Noble Lord with hypocrisy, given his role and his recent public comments about the need to maintain high standards in Britain’s upper House of Parliament, could be missing the bigger picture.
Lord Sewel is setting an example, a challenge to his fellow peers.
This, he is saying, is how to maintain standards of conduct.
Beat that, in other words, is his message to his fellow Lords.