I should have seen it coming, of course. All the signs were there. The furtive emails, phone calls to people I knew, whispering and pointing. But at last the truth (and Councillor Gordon Jenkins’ secret) are out, splashed all over the front page of the local paper.
Jenkins is, or rather was, a Facebook flirt. The Tory from Bickley’s Facebook page – now sadly not available, having been removed and replaced by a very dull alternative – was a victim of that most virulent form of cyber disease (the online equivalent of Avian Flu), Application Addiction.
You know the sort of thing: there are zombies, pirates and vampires; top friends, hot friends, who-knows-what friends; there are geography tests, IQ tests and all manner of patience tests; and then there’s the sexy stuff. Jenkins’s own vice was risqué elements: Kinky Poke, Orgasmic!, Panty Raid and Massage Me applications abounded; we were asked to rate his body, consider whether he was flighty or frigid and even consider (Oh! I feel queasy just saying it) what sex toy he would be if he were a sex toy. Jokes abound.
That being said, finding his face plastered all over the cover of the Bromley Times this evening seems a bit cruel. Being a liberal myself, I really don’t care who wants to spank Cllr. Jenkins – though his ward colleague, the devoutly Christian and small-‘c’ conservative Portfolio-holder for Public Protection and Security may not be as open-minded. I don’t care if he has been rated as a hunk by the blue-rinsed members (dare I say “members”?) of the Bromley Conservative Association, or if somebody he met at conference wants to tweak some part of his body (electronically, of course, which now I say it doesn’t sound particularly pleasant either!). The truth is, he’s done nothing wrong, morally. Rather, he has succumbed to the temptation to get into a new internet fad and to get carried away.
Frankly, if there is any real criticism due to Gordon Jenkins, it is that he has been silly. My own Facebook page is far more prosaic. A couple of photographs taken while drinking and a lot of silly video clips from Pauline are about the limit of how foolish it gets. It’s not that I’m more prudish than Cllr. Jenkins (well, maybe a bit!) but that I’ve not got the time for Knight’s Names and Rate-a-mate. There simply aren’t that many hours in the day. But if Gordon has time to kill – his casework not withstanding – then who are we to judge.
There are plenty of reasons for voting out Tory councillors in Bromley. Above-inflation Council Tax rises; doubling of fees for adults in need of social services care in their homes; a widespread belief that they ignore the areas of the borough that present real challenges, such as Penge, the Cray Valley and my own ward of Crystal Palace. So many of the Tory councillors are either related to or married to another councillor it’s beginning to look like a family business! Fear of crime is rife, money is wasted on poorly-managed projects and their hypocrisy over the Green Belt is about to be tested.
However, having a bit of a risqué Facebook page is not one of them. If Gordon Jenkins has ever stood on a platform of traditional family values; if he has ever condemned others for their behaviour; if he has ever sought to use his office to impose his moral code or to point an accusatory finger, then he should not only be ashamed but should step down. If, on the other hand, he has always been open-minded in himself and in his conduct as a councillor, then the most he deserves is a few days of feeling like a bit of a prat. In fact, he probably doesn’t even deserve that.