Welcome to Withenay’s Wednesday Word: a wandering, wondering dip into the dictionary. The topics are always varied and rarely predictable!
vain or empty glory in one’s own performances
from Old French vaine gloire
Earlier this week Chris Huhne, the discredited Liberal Democrat MP, launched a spirited defence of his conviction for perverting the cause of justice, claiming that the only reason the case against him was reopened was because Rupert Murdoch’s corporation sought “payback” against him. Mr Huhne (in his role as an MP) had pushed for further investigations into the phone-hacking scandals in the British Press and he claims it was as a result of this that The Sunday Times investigated the inconsistencies in his own speeding fine case.
Mr Huhne is in a dreadful position. He has lied and cheated and broken the law. He has also had an affair, an unpleasant divorce and upset many family and friends. For a long time he refused to admit in public what he clearly knew privately (that he was guilty of speeding, not his wife) and hoped that the truth would never come to light. Having lost his job and served his sentence he wants to rebuild his life.
Yet, will anyone ever take him seriously, or trust him again? Perhaps it is because he had been lying for so long that he had almost convinced himself of his innocence, and that lie is hard to set down. Can any of us truly set aside a person’s past and just think of them – now – as a person, as a clean slate? Being in the public eye, Mr Huhne is not likely to ever avoid questions about his past; but shouldn’t we try to just talk about his present and future – his newspaper column and any public speaking that he does?
I think we should, but fully recognise that it is difficult to set aside the past and not see his words tainted by his pride and lies. He has started his road to recovery by blaming someone else (namely Rupert Murdoch), like a child in the playground pointing at another kid and declaring of the misdemeanour, “It was his fault!”
Yes, Mr Huhne: vainglorious indeed.