Jenni Murray

10 August 2021

Broadcaster and Saga Magazine columnist Dame Jenni Murray shares her thoughts on the extra-marital actions of Matt Hancock.



I’ve never quite got my head around the stories that so often hit the headlines where a man in the public eye decides the grass will be greener with another woman who is not his wife. Why risk your job, your reputation and the lives of your wife and children for a bit of hanky-panky in the stationery cupboard? You know the thrill won’t last forever, but the damage to family life and trust will never end.

So often it’s a man who risks his kids, his work and his finances. Edwina Currie was one exception and she had been out of politics for some while before revealing her dalliance with John Major in her diaries. Generally speaking, I’m sure most women tend to be so proud they’ve risen to a high position, that they simply work hard and look forward to going home to their families.

Only too often, I’ve come across the male pattern of making sure you don’t get home until the children have been put to bed, the toys cleared away and dinner is on the table. The women who’ve expressed an interest in a ‘little affair’ have generally concluded, ‘Where would I find the time?’

 Here’s my advice to Mrs Hancock. Stand for parliament and replace him as MP

Of course, it takes two to tango; to be honest, I can see the temptation for either sex of an attractive, interesting other, putting a proposal for a bit of fun and excitement on the table. We live in an age, as pointed out in the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, that has become more and more liberal and progressive. One-night stands through dating sites are commonplace so why would a secret affair be considered a disgrace?

Surprisingly, as sexual freedom has lost its power to shock and disgust, disapproval of infidelity in a committed relationship has increased. In 1990, 44% of men said sex outside marriage was wrong. The percentage rose to 62% in 2012 and, for women it was 69%. It goes up all the time.

It’s the lure of the new that has baffled me for so long. Those of us who matured in the sexual revolution had plenty of opportunities to test what was on offer before settling down. We kissed (and more) any number of frogs until we found the handsome prince, decided he would do, created a home, learned to trust the other half and brought children into the world. Why wreck all that?

Jenni's column appeared in the August 2021 issue of Saga Magazine. To read more of Jenni's musings each month, subscribe today

That’s what’s so shocking about men like Matt Hancock, Boris Johnson or indeed anyone whose secret affair becomes common knowledge, in the papers or the neighbourhood. Why do men put their wives, attractive, intelligent women of equal status to their own, in the position of the humiliated, sad creature to be gloated over and pitied?

I met Marina Wheeler, the former wife of serial seducer Boris Johnson – she’s elegant, beautiful, articulate, a highly successful QC. She has spent the years since she decided her marriage was over researching a wonderful book tracing the history of her Sikh mother and family who lost their homestead in the Punjab in 1947 as a result of Partition. I interviewed her for a book festival – no mention of her ex! The consensus among the audience appeared to be ‘What a fool Boris was to lose such a delightful woman’.

As for Martha Hancock, she has handled the intrusion into her private life with aplomb. Not a sign of shame or embarrassment in front of the horde of paparazzi outside her home. She is greatly admired in her husband’s constituency of West Suffolk where she has long been responsible for local networking while he’s been busy with other matters.

Here’s my advice to Mrs Hancock. Foster those supporters and at the next election stand for Parliament and replace him as MP.

It’s time some of these dishonourable males, raised in the boys’ clubs of privilege, took more care of their family values. There’s also a rather famous saying of which they should all take note, whether their business is politics or not, ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’.

Do you agree with Jenni? Email editor@saga.co.uk

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