Were I a politician observing Henry Bolton’s embarrassment with glee I think I might just stop short of demanding his resignation as leader of Ukip. What point, anyway, in trying to destabilise a party which has destabilised itself to the point at which nearly every credible challenger for the leadership seems already to have left – along with quite a few incredible ones? Why not just sit back and enjoy the sight of an old fool falling in love with young glamour puss and falling flat on his face?
Any public figure who goes further might find that it comes back to haunt them. As Lara Prendergast wrote in this week’s Spectator, the age of social media has become a trap for anyone with any kind of past online life. Even if you try to delete your past history, as Toby Young attempted to do when a campaign was mobilised against his appointment to the board of the Office for Students, embarrassing material will somehow find its way out of the bowels of the internet.
Do Ukip’s enemies really want the nationwide hunt for compromising past tweets and texts to be extended to partners and friends? If they do, they might find themselves having to lead a somewhat solitary life if they want to continue in their own political careers. Surely there cannot be anyone in public life who can be confident that their partner, or someone else close to them, has not at some point in the past expressed an opinion on some kind of social media forum which could be construed as racist, xenophobic, homophobic – or anything else which would now be considered unacceptable in the Court of Twitter.
If I were in politics, I would leave poor Henry Bolton alone to contemplate the mess of his private life – even warmly congratulate him on dumping his girlfriend of three weeks as soon as he became aware of her private views on black people. The choice is either that or to doom yourself when some energetic geek discovers that your own partner once tweeted something embarrassing.