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Daily View: What Liam Fox's story says about politics

Clare Spencer | 09:17 UK time, Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Liam Fox

Commentators reflect on what the ongoing questions about the nature of the friendship between Defence Secretary Liam Fox and Adam Werritty tells us about the state of politics.

Daniel Finkelstein says in the Times that it is right for David Cameron to wait until the situation is clearer before acting. But it goes against what is expected of a leader - to act decisively:

"In these scandals you are expected to move decisively, taking a clear position. Anything else is weakness, dithering, tolerating sleaze. But often you can't honourably do so. You don't know the whole truth. You may never know it. And you can't really act without knowing it, because that's not fair on the accused.
"The result? You end up breaking what is possibly the most important rule of politics. The rule that says that you must always seem to be in control of circumstances."

The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland asks why Liam Fox appears to think saying sorry is enough:

"Only in politics is the mere act of saying sorry deemed to be sufficient punishment. You don't see rioters walk away from court simply because they had the grace to put their hands up. Nor can they evade a jail sentence by regretting that they had allowed 'the distinction between legal and illegal to be blurred'. Even Wayne Rooney gets a three-match ban for blurring the distinction between his studs and an opponent's leg.
"But somehow politics is placed in a separate, more convenient, category. In politics, a quick mention of the s-word is meant to close the matter, enabling everyone - including the culprit - to move on, as if simply saying that you take responsibility is the same as taking it."

David Hughes says in the Telegraph that opposition questioning of Liam Fox highlights how politicians lack the skills to interrogate:

"Their questions were either over-elaborate or designed to show how smart the questioner was, or a combination of both. The question that was screaming out to be asked was: 'What was Mr Werritty doing at those meetings?' That, surely, is what we all want to know. Why didn't anyone ask? It's not the first time that MPs have missed the obvious and it won't be the last. The short, sharp and pithy question is a valuable weapon in the Chamber yet is seldom used"

In a similar vein, in the Financial Times Jim Pickard also lists the questions about Adam Werritty that still need to be answered:

"What is Werritty's source of income. According to one MoD source he has 'private clients'. Who are they? What do they do for him? Will the government ask him who they are? And if he tells them, will they publish a list?"

Finally, moving away from the politics, in the Independent Matthew Norman jokes about how Liam Fox and Adam Werritty's friendship has made him question whether his own friends are putting in enough effort:

"Had you asked me a few days ago, I'd have told you that my friends were one of the best things in my life, and that I wouldn't change them for the world. Then along came Adam Werritty to redefine the nature of friendship, or at least raise the friendship bar to an unreachable zenith, and now I want to sack the bleeding lot of them.
"This is why I resent Dr Liam Fox, who at the time of writing remains Defence Secretary, though this is ridiculously unfair. Is he to be demonised for being the kind of chap who inspires a level of devotion that beggars belief? When loyalty, the platinum of human resources, is among the scarcest and most precious commodities known to humanity?"

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