This country never ceases to amaze me. I was reading the newspapers, and found out that Michael Fallon had resigned as defence secretary. In his letter of resignation, he said:
‘ …I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we required of the Armed Forces…’
I am going to react the French way for once: WTF? Where do they find these people?
When you read this statement, it almost sounds innocuous, right? It is as if he had behaved pretty well, but still not well enough. Poor Darling. It’s almost as if he was the victim. Too much was expected from him. Dear oh dear. Well I, for one, will not shed any tears.
Let me rewind a little bit: do you remember the MP expense scandal? No? Well let me refresh your memory; according to The Daily Telegraph, Fallon claimed for mortgage repayments on his Westminster flat in their entirety. MPs were only allowed to claim for interest charges. Instead of profusely apologising (which was, in my view, the only decent thing to do), what did he do? Well, you couldn’t make it up: he said “Why has no one brought this to my attention before?”. Seriously? Did I miss something here? Don’t you see a pattern of arrogance ? Or is it just me?
So why did he resign? In pure British style, we will probably only ever know a small part of the facts. We are told that ‘Allegations of inappropriate behaviour have been swirling around Westminster since the Harvey Weinstein abuse scandal encouraged women to speak out about their experiences of sexual abuse or harassment.’, according to The Guardian.
We are also told that he made unwanted advances to a journalist 15 years ago, and repeatedly placed his hand on her knee. It’s not good behaviour obviously but come on, it’s not that bad. And it was fifteen years ago. Why do I have a nagging feeling that I am missing something, and that we are not told the whole truth?
Because as the British tend to understate, understate and understate some more, this sounds pretty bad.
In this country, you are simply not supposed to state the abrupt facts. For instance, I was told that one of my former bosses ‘loved his drink’. I didn’t think much of it until I saw him completely drunk at a Christmas party. He clearly had lost the plot, and I soon found out that he was a full-blown alcoholic who couldn’t behave when drunk. Everybody knew of course. Except me. Silly French me. Clearly, I needed to learn. Given my reaction to the whole Michael Fallon’s debacle, I still have some way to go.
As Shakespeare would say, ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.’ Because let’s face it: it’s not only Michael Fallon that we are talking about here: in my view, it’s also about a certain British elite. Michael Fallon’s behaviour is consistent with the way the political and business elites have been behaving for years. It feels like they can do pretty much whatever they want without any fear of retribution. It’s always somebody else’s fault anyway. This had been going on for far too long and goes far beyond the ‘locker-room culture’. That said, with all the sexual harassment scandals in my adoptive country, I am starting to wonder who will remain to actually work.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that nobody is perfect and that we all make mistakes. But it doesn’t excuse this culture of arrogance and self entitlement. Things badly need to change. I sincerely hope they will. What do you think?