19 December 2011

Adultery: A Guide for Managing Ministers of the Crown

Policy Circular: 2011/969
Date: 19 December 2011
Issued By:
Department of the Cabinet          
All Portfolios
Ministers’ Chiefs of Staff and Principal Media Advisors
Chief Executives and Agency Senior Executives (upper tier)
Strictly Confidential – Not for wider distribution or citation

(NB This Circular replaces Policy Directive 2005/696: Handling Media Inquiries Regarding Ministers’ Private Lives.)

Senior public officers will be aware of some regrettable incidents that have in recent times come to light involving the personal conduct of now former Government Ministers. While these sorts of matters have historically been handled discretely and with minimal fuss, there has been a worrying trend in recent years for the media, doubtless spurred on by competition from new digital services and ready access to social networks, to focus anew on the more tawdry nether regions of public life.
Yet it is concerning to see so many of those in the public eye in their forties or even fifties who, in spite of these developments, persistently indulge in questionable behaviour in their ‘private’ lives with little care, thought or planning. If executives of more mature bearing can help in any way, it is to guide those who follow on the merits of Ministers behaving badly not just with a touch of style and saviour faire, but also with a modicum of caution.
For these reasons, the Acting Secretary-General of Cabinet has authorised preparation of this Confidential Policy Circular for the most senior levels of Government to address the important topic of philandering by Ministers of the Crown.
First, however, a cautionary note: In no way should this Circular be interpreted as recommending that criminal or corrupt conduct be condoned or covered up, particularly where those deeds allegedly involve young people of pre-consensual age. Those are matters for the appropriate legal authorities. The Government, after all, is not the Catholic Church.
This Policy deals only with issues of public morality involving consenting adults – not solely with adultery, but with all philandering in which there is either a spouse or partner potentially affected or where some form of secretiveness or duplicity is involved, and which may have deleterious political consequences for the Government were it to be exposed.
To that end a handy set of three case studies has been prepared to help illustrate the relevant points. In considering them, the reader should of course be mindful of there being many Ministers these days who are women, and more than a few who are gay or bisexual.
The examples given should therefore be seen as far as practicable as ‘gender neutral’, notwithstanding the fact that married male Ministers will unquestionably continue to pose the chief management challenge for those public officials concerned.
NB A warning – Ministers must at all costs be dissuaded from ‘screwing with the crew’. Neither public service nor ministerial staff are permitted to have sexual relations of any kind (not even the Clintonian kind) with the Minister to whom they report.
Should any such activity be detected, the staff member concerned will be transferred immediately to a far less attractive portfolio (and Minister).
Case Studies:
The inevitable affair with the younger woman
Husbands are chiefly good lovers when they are betraying their wives.
Marilyn Monroe
As Ms Monroe knew famously and too well, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a middle-aged husband in possession of a powerful job must be in want of a mistress...or at least an attractive young woman on the side. ‘Twas ever thus and ‘twill ever be.
Tell-tale signs of sexual distraction are legion and are similar to those signifying the pursuit of higher office: unusually careful attention to the ministerial appearance; smart contemporary attire; significant weight loss; and a hitherto unobserved interest in the gym, cycling and exercise generally. All that being so, how does a dedicated and responsible senior executive or staffer deal with the entirely foreseeable ministerial peccadillo?
Well, with careful management and planning, of course.
As with all senior appointments, identifying and weeding out unsuitable candidates for ministerial amore is an effort that will repay the careful bureaucrat or political staffer over and over again. Crucially, the Minister must be persuaded of the ground-rules for the affair. They are these:
  • Never pursue a woman who is closer to your children’s age than to your own, or who is chronologically capable of being your daughter. This effectively means a maximum of about 14 years younger than the Minister – certainly, 15 years plus is dangerous territory
  • Carefully vet the woman’s personality – vulnerable or psychologically unstable types can be alluring to an older man, but loopy babes are a media minefield – the time-honoured tradition of selecting an experienced (and, preferably, divorced) woman should be actively encouraged
  • Be fully informed. Explore all you (lawfully) can about the Minister’s partner and their current relationship – is it open? Is she the jealous and vengeful type? Might she be playing away from home herself? (All the better if she is!); and finally
  • The Minister should be strongly discouraged from choosing someone who is just a younger and more attractive version of his spouse, especially if their names are similar. There will inevitably be tears and potentially restraining orders as the girlfriend attempts to displace the wife entire, and not just her affections.
The notionally religious family man with a penchant for trade
Love is a game in which one always cheats.
Honore de Balzac
Here one dwells upon unhappy and troubling ground that necessitates a light tread but a firm hand. It is this example that throws into starkest relief the prevalent attitude of the media to personal privacy; about which, it is fair to say, tabloid journalists and editors take a view akin to sex workers’ position on celibacy. For the socially conservative married man with a taste for younger men, cheating is lamentable but unavoidable, and so is gristle for the media grinder.
Assuming as one must that a Minister’s off-duty sexual practices, coupled with his religious affiliation and marital status, will excite the most prurient of interest from anyone armed with a smart-phone and built-in camera, how does one protect the Government from unwanted and unwarranted denigration? Secrecy and deception is how: fight a smear with a smear of the lens.
The Minister must never visit young men at their haunts: no gay bars; no steam rooms; no ‘dance’ clubs; certainly no beats. His assignations will befit his station, to be conducted in quiet comfort away from the public gaze. And never let the Minister drive his own Government car alone after hours. That’s when real damage can be done.
It is an unwelcome liberalisation that Government drivers have been dispensed with in the small hours. Incorrigible gossips they may be, but they rarely go on the public record (unless they themselves are involved in the sexual shenanigans – but see the edict about staff above).
The engagement and use of sex-workers
My sexual preference is often.
Author Unknown
The advantages of employing prostitutes to satisfy the baser needs of public figures are well-known and need no great elaboration here. They are flexible, responsive, usually prompt and available on a fee-for-service basis – female, male or transsexual for clients straight, gay or bi. Thus services can be conveniently tailored to meet the needs of the busy and stressed Minister of the Crown.
Yet, even in these days of successful public health initiatives, there are traps of which every senior public officer supervising ministerial conduct should make him or herself aware. Much of the risk is down not to the sex-workers, but to others typically involved in the transaction, notably the Ministers themselves. This is especially the case where the Minister in question is a boorish, pompous or otherwise unattractive specimen – unfortunately, an all too common state of affairs.
Attentive observers will be aware of the unedifying spectacle of a call-girl recently being interviewed in the press about an alleged liaison with an erstwhile Government Minister. While one has a degree of sympathy for attractive and stylish young women being asked to engage (even when handsomely rewarded) in some form of sexual congress with particularly unappealing examples of Homo politicus, our principal concern here is the reputational risk to the Minister, not to his loins.
Where were the then Minister’s staffers? Why was a Minister of the Crown having a long ‘lunch’ without a senior staff member present?
Ministers need to be tightly-tracked and time-managed. They cannot be allowed, after an afternoon’s boozy lunch with prominent party donors, to have themselves quietly whisked off by mysterious third parties for a ‘neck massage’, no matter its putative therapeutic benefit.
If a Minister requires attention to any part of his or her anatomy, with or without a happy ending, it is crucial for senior staff to ensure that the right source is deployed to provide the service. Reliability and discretion are paramount. Payment methods need to be resolved that do not reflect ill on the Government: cash is good. In any event, arrangements of this kind need to be taken out of the hands of the Minister, let alone the clutches of lobbyists or their entourages.
It is with this advice that the care of good government is entrusted to all Chief Executives and Chiefs of Staff, now and in the future.

Dr Enrico Brik
Department of the Cabinet

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