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Healthy lifestyle: What a shame Mr Newmark had his back turned to the words that could have helped him.

Healthy lifestyle: What a shame Mr Newmark had his back turned to the words that could have helped him.

Isn’t it disappointing that the Minister for Civil Society has resigned after admitting he indulged in some spectacularly un-civil – in fact downright explicit – behaviour towards a young lady (who turned out to be an undercover newspaper reporter – and a man)?

Brooks Newmark, whose ministerial responsibilities include overseeing charities such as the Girl Guides movement, apparently started a dialogue with a reporter he believed to be a young female activist, in the course of which he transmitted an image of himself that revealed more than propriety permits.

We’re told he co-founded an organisation called Women2Win and has been an outspoken campaigner for women in politics – which seems like a lot of effort in order to indulge in this kind of behaviour.

But Mr Newmark is also on record as saying, “We really want to try and keep charities and voluntary groups out of the realms of politics… The important thing charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting.” He seems to be quite confused and it is probably just as well that he will now be able to spend more time pulling himself together.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, it seemed as though the Conservative Party had a major legover crisis every five minutes. Who can forget Cecil Parkinson’s resignation? Or how about David Mellor and his possibly-imaginary Chelsea strip (look it up if you don’t remember it)?

This is a pale imitation – an attempt at a legover crisis, and a poor attempt, at that.

Still, it has provoked a certain amount of hilarity. Tom Pride, in inimitable style, seized on the moment with the following satirical words: “A spokesperson for Number 10 said Mr Newmark’s boo-boo was clearly much too inconsequential to be of major concern:

“’The Prime Minister has seen the pictures and is assured that Mr Newmark’s folly is tiny. In fact his howler is so miniscule, negligible and trifling, it’s hardly worth mentioning at all.’

“Not long after the story broke, Mr Newmark took to Twitter to defend his bungle against accusations it is small:

“’I completely deny accusations that my howler is tiny. In fact my pickle’s actually quite a big one – certainly just as big as all the other Tory MP’s gaffes we’ve seen over the years.’

If only that were true.

It should be stressed that the use of a reporter in disguise who seems to have encouraged Mr Newmark to reveal his… indiscretion… is morally reprehensible in itself. Would he have desported himself in such a way without inducement?

Nevertheless, this piece of tattle has heaped more embarrassment on David Cameron, right on the eve of the Conservative Party conference.

This was going to be the conference where the Tories were going to state the case for their re-election, claiming they are perfectly fit to steer the ship of state on their own, without the Liberal Democrats and their pitiful attempts to behave like the political equivalent of bicycle stabilisers (if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor).

Instead, with two Conservative MPs having defected to UKIP and more likely to follow, with a ministerial resignation due to improper behaviour, with outrage from the Queen at his own indiscretion about a telephone conversation with her, with much of Scotland on the verge of open rebellion in the belief that he lied about giving that country’s Parliament new powers, and with the rest of the UK incredulous at his claims the the economy is recovering fast when their wages are plummeting…

It suddenly seems entirely possible that Mr Cameron will be the only person there.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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