David Ruffley: the dangers of making the personal political

David Ruffley, Conservative MP for Bury St Edmonds, was cautioned by the police for common assault against his ex-partner in March. After releasing a statement on Wednesday night apologising to his former partner and the public for his ‘inappropriate action’, there have been renewed calls for him either to resign his position or be sacked from the party.

The public shaming of politicians has become all too common in a PR-driven political sphere. In this case, as in so many other ‘political scandals’ of late, the public knows very little about the incident in question. But even if we did, the case still has no correlation with Ruffley’s role as a politician and therefore shouldn’t jeopardise his future. This case is, as Ruffley himself put it, a ‘deeply personal matter’. It really is none of our business.

Furthermore, the calls for Ruffley to be sacked so as to ‘send a message’ about domestic abuse is ill-thought out and says a lot about how we view and deal with domestic violence today. Too often domestic violence is presented as something black and white, when, in reality, each case is different, bringing with them their own complexities. In every instance, domestic violence needs to be handled with nuance and care by the authorities and those involved. The way in which commentators morally grandstand over domestic violence imbues it with a political significance which ultimately glosses over these inherent complexities.

David Ruffley’s case highlights that blurring the lines between private and public can only damage both spheres.

Nathalie Farrugia is a spiked intern.

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