How Maria Miller compounded her own problems


One of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me was a teacher at my children’s school. On discussing their potential careers, he told me:

‘Your children don’t have to worry about their career choices, Hugh. They’ll be fine. They’ve got your values.’

I replied that, while I appreciated him telling me this, the difficulty my children would face would be how to identify the contrasting values of other people they might come across in the big, wide world.

In my career, I have been unfortunate enough to encounter people with rather a warped view, shall we say, of the difference between right and wrong. 

I have found that, working with these people, it is relatively simple to move on and, with a grateful sigh, eliminate them from one’s life.

But what about their families?

How will their children emerge?

With what values are they imbued?

Or their partners by whom they might have expected to be ‘deeply loved’ until the day they die?

For over a week, the British media has been dominated by the behavioural shortcomings that have been revealed by our Culture Secretary, Maria Miller.

How on earth can Ms Miller, a Cabinet Minister no less, have let things get this far:

‘In 2012…The Daily Telegraph, which broke the original expenses scandal, began investigating Miller …  after a tip-off that her parents had been living with her in taxpayer-subsided accommodation. A reporter visited the Wimbledon home and this was confirmed by the culture secretary’s elderly father.’?

You what?!

Her elderly father?

What was Maria Miller thinking?

The behaviour of three more politicians comes to mind:

One is Jeffrey Archer, formerly deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, about whom the BBC said this:

‘In October 1986 a sensational story hit the tabloid headlines. The deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, Jeffrey Archer, was accused of paying money to a prostitute. During the 1987 libel trial Mary Archer famously took the stand to support her husband.’

You what?!

His wife? In court?

What was Jeffrey Archer thinking?

Then we had Jonathan Aitken, an MP and Privy Councillor. On sentencing him to prison, the judge said:

“The fall from grace has been complete, his marriage has broken down, he has lost his home, he is one of only three people this century forced to resign from the Privy Council, he is bankrupt and his health has suffered. His public humiliation has been absolute. These are real and considerable punishments. Sir John said Aitken now felt “profound remorse and shame”, particularly for drawing up a false witness statement for his daughter, Victoria, to sign.

You what?!

His own daughter?

What was Jonathan Aitken thinking?

In March last year, former MP and Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne was sentenced to eight months in prison. During the trial it emerged that his son had sent him texts saying:

‘You’re a pathetic loser …. You are the most ghastly man I have ever known’.

You what?!

His own son?

What was Chris Huhne thinking?

Do you see what I mean?

How is it that some people refuse to accept the implications of their own behaviour to the extent that they risk the destruction not only of their own lives but also the people who are closest to them?

Maria Miller seems to be one such person.

All I can do is warn you that, next time your other half says to you… :

‘Darling, can you do me a favour please?’

… be very careful.

Especially if you are married to a politician.

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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