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Guidelines for Measures to Cope with Disgraceful and Other Events - Part 1



by
Richard Beard


1.    DENIAL

Make it unreservedly clear, as an elected member of the European Parliament, that nothing shameful could possibly have taken place.  Rumours must be dismissed as unfounded and malicious, as per approved guidelines for measures to cope with disgraceful and other events. 
            You could, for example, deny using your office expense allowance to set up a Russian citizen with no work permit in a studio apartment on the Quai Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg (which does not, because you have never been there, smell intensely of incense and pillows).  You have never slipped across the river between midday resolutions and an afternoon meeting of the All-Party Committee Against Corruption.  If necessary, you can swear this on your wife and children.  Hugh, I believe, who is six, and four-year-old Madeleine with her collection of Britannia zoo animals.
            Your family isn’t perfect, deny that too.  Always deny perfection.  Hugh didn’t get on with his school in Brussels, so Georgia took the children back to Kensington the Vale in London, where thirty years ago she wore precisely the same brown uniform and straw hat with ribbon.  In a family context, you can sometimes be unreasonable.  ‘Nobody leaves this house until I find my sock!’  That was one of yours - the gang in the van had a good laugh at that one - but you public figures are often baffled at home.  Nevertheless, you would not knowingly jeopardise the muddled rough-and-tumble of normal domestic life.  Deny it.
            You are, however, a politician.  You can see every side.  You can see that your enemies and the opposition and your father-in-law and the press would love any accusation of this kind to be true, which of course it isn’t.  Especially just now, with your eyes on a seat at the big boys’ table at Westminster.
            Seven years ago, in your first week in Brussels as a Euro MP, the leader of the Socialist group, Lars Knudsen, took you aside.  He wanted to offer advice, to show that he knew best.  He taught you how to reserve the better tables at Comme Chez Soi, and how to get selected by BBC News 24 for interviews in the lobby.  Useful stuff, and you humoured Herr Knudsen, didn’t you?  Cosy up in the Members’ bar and talk about absolutely everything.  Women and ambition.
            ‘This is no place to be weak, Simon.’
            That was the only warning he had for you, and you laughed at him behind his back.  Second-rater.  Wouldn’t be in Brussels otherwise, but in Copenhagen.  Just like you thought you ought to be in London.  It was a shame about Knudsen though.  I’m not sure he deserved to be sent home in disgrace, not simply for putting his personal dentist on the Weights and Measures payroll.
            Procedures have been tightening up, as you know.  This is probably not the best time to be seeing a young lady called Eva Kuznetsova, who is undoubtedly pretty but has no visible means of support.  You should deny that you share her flat for the four days a month the Parliament sits in Strasbourg, and state firmly that you do not skim your living allowance to put Eva on the direct train to Brussels at least once a week at all other times.  This is a damaging and false accusation likely to hurt your career, your wife, and your children. 

Unfortunately, Denial may fail to contain events.  For this measure to work, you will need a spotless reputation.  You should never have associated with parliamentarians already disgraced, nor have failed to declare a non-executive directorship with a Black Sea mining company.  There should be no blokey stories, however amusing, about you and female delegates in the days when you were president of the Union of European Students.  Even if you yourself encouraged these stories because that was long before you were married, and in any case the girls were foreign and total Euro stun-guns.  Your very own words, Simon, I do believe.
            You are a politician.  Denial is precarious.  Most people with whom you interact, including journalists, other politicians and occasionally your own wife, are a cynical bunch who will assume that the opposite of what you say may well be true.  Before risking a straight denial, you should explore other possible measures.



2. CONCEALMENT/CONTINUED DECEPTION

This often appears an attractive solution; it worked well enough until now.  It is a legitimate way of coping with an event that might otherwise become disgraceful, like Eva Kuznetsova on the Quai Rouget de Lisle, who since last Thursday thinks she might be pregnant.
            Cunning will be required.  Continued deception demands a cleverness that gets increasingly stretched as time goes by.  Imagine hiding a mistress and her baby.  Your baby.  A second family. 
            It was a junior minister in the Lord Chancellor’s Department, on a recent visit to the Commissioner in Brussels, who singled you out at lunch and said:
            ‘You are a very clever operator, Simon.  I like that in a young man.  We enjoy the way you work.’ 
            So busy, so committed, talking shop and stopping overnight in Rome, Barcelona, Dublin, Amsterdam, every destination by happy coincidence also served by Ryanair from the Baden Airpark near Strasbourg.  If you say you’re going to Rome, Simon, just as you have until now, you should go, where your wife and your agent and the BBC and the whips can ring you on a genuine Rome number.  If it happens that Eva is also in Rome on a 0.01 euro Ryanair flight, on the same weekend, in the same hotel, in the same room, then truly the light doth shine.  As with any lie, make most of it true.  Do some business.  Talk to at least one German civil servant – they’re impeccable as alibis.  Easy.  Easy-peasy for a slick cocksure bastard like you.  Pardon my French.
Simon.
            Here’s a favourite of yours – a sly technique you should retain.  Buy open-ended air tickets and then monitor the flights back to London or Brussels.  Find one that’s cancelled and then immediately e-mail your wife (cc the secretary) to say this is the flight you booked.  They should check the arrival time on the Internet.  A little later, when they make the urgent call to tell you the bad news, and you’re lying in your towelling robe on a king-size bed in the Hotel Barbarini on the Via Rasella, it’s clear that a delay like this is going to be hell for everybody.
            Sport is good, golf best.  Off for 18 holes at the Royal Waterloo or the Kempferhof but only play nine.  Swimming has good margins for creative time-keeping; triathlon training is almost foolproof. 
            The problem with strategies and deception, as you know, is cash-flow.  It costs to be clever, and for these purposes you can hardly get cash from Georgia.  She and her family have always been most generous, but there are limits, even for the English upper classes.
            So the cash, the cash, oh where to get the lolly?
            From a Russian energy consortium perhaps.  One that wants to deregulate the gas market to allow Russian supplies free access to Western Europe.
            The money, the money.  The flat, the furniture, Eva.  You were even clever with the furniture, avoiding a paper-trail of receipts and Visa statements by buying for cash from trading magazines.  Good thinking, but for so much effort you have to be sure she’s worth it.

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Anika Devi received her Bachelor’s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University in 2012. She began freelancing for Business Solutions BD in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor.
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