A cause of some jollity, of late, has been the ooo-so-risqué speculation about Mr Putin’s sexuality.
A random tweet, yesterday, of the image of “my little Putin” – the manly Vladimir himself astride the rainbow pony – went viral pretty quickly: speculation about a Putin/Village people tie-up has also been doing the rounds, as people have noticed the great Leader’s penchant for photo-opportunity mostly in a state of butch shirtlessness: the ruggeder the better!
But what if? What if its all actually true? A failure to comment by Jack Straw on Radio 4’s Any Questions? yesterday set my senses jangling.
About 12 minutes in, the audience lobbed in a question about boycotting showpiece events in response to unpleasant policies. Conservative MP, Anna Soubry would not: poverty campaigner Jack Monroe would.
Then came an intriguing little intervention from Jack Straw:
“One of the truths, I remember when this country was pretty homophobic and the government of the day was pretty homophobic that it always struck me that some of the people who were the most homophobic were people who failed to examine their own sexuality so I hope that’s one of the lessons that comes thru this.
“I’m really serious I can go thru the members of parliament who were up there in favour of section 28 and other vile pieces of discrimination and you thought: “hang on a second what are they doing that for?” and then you realised of course why they were doing it, because it was about denial of themselves.”
What larks! And i’m sure he speaks true: that some of those Tories most outspoken AGAINST gay rights protested just a bit too much.
But what a strange observation to make in the context of a question so clearly about Sochi and Russia and Mr Putin.
For while you and i and anyone else who pleases may speculate to our heart’s content about Putin’s sexuality that is all it is ever likely to be: speculation.
Whereas Jack Straw, first as Home Secretary (1997-2001), then as Foreign Secretary (2001-2006), was at the political heart of things throughout Putin’s first presidency (2000-2008).
It is unthinkable that he did not see any and every intelligence brief relevant to the UK’s dealings with other countries – and that includes the petty sexual foibles of every major global leader, as well as a fair few of their apparatchiks too.
He’ll have known the names and dates of every sexual liaison that Putin conducted from first teen fumblings through to dubious adulthood. He knows if Putin has a sexual Achilles’ heel: anything which, if exposed, would not play well with the Russian people.
He knows if Putin is straight, or otherwise.
Although he can never say: not without betraying official secrets and every oath of office he has ever sworn.
Which is why this is such an intriguing intervention. Was it, perhaps, no more than off the cuff remark?
Maybe. But, having interviewed politicians ad nauseam, i don’t believe in such. However careless you believe them generally, they are OCD-meticulous in the precision they bring to words.
Off the cuff? Or has Mr Straw actually just told us – without telling us – the secret he can never tell us?
That the jokes are true. That the biggest secret of all in Putin’s secret Russia is out in plain sight: the secret that dare not speak its name?
That would be, not so much gay, as very, very sad indeed.