Mark Oaten's film on Newsnight from 23rd May is available on to review here.
I have just had the chance to watch it at leisure. I was very glad to see an extremely relaxed and cheerful Mark on this film. Noone would wish what he and his family have been through on anyone. It is good that he is obviously "bouncing back" and I wish him well. I hope he can now get coverage for doing things for Winchester rather than for his somewhat tangential forays into Celebrity Fit Club (or whatever it was) and this Newsnight film on "why politicians press the self-destruct button".
A few things in the film struck me though.
He had a sort of embryonic moustache. At first, I thought it was the contrast or the resolution on my PC. After fiddling with it, it became clear that it was indeed a form of moustache which he had grown. I also noticed that he had about two days' growth of beard. Interesting. The sort of style you would get from an advertising executive or a media type. But not from the MP for Winchester appearing on national television. Call me old-fashioned, if you will.
I was also very struck by how he spoke in the past tense about Westminster:
"I fell out of love with Westminster"...."I lost my identity"...."There wasn't a day went by when I didn't say 'actually I don't want to do this' " Really? Alan Clark in his diaries used to write quite the opposite, about his daily compulsion to be in politics, a compulsion which many politicians, presumably, share. But I am surprised that someone who, it is presumed (rightly or wrongly), wants to remain in politics, is telling us that he told himself everyday that he didn't want to do it.
Julia Langdon, seasoned journalist, put it well when she was asked whether she, a journalist, "played God" with politicians' lives. The response was positively Nannyesque: "The person in question has just been silly...to not to have been straight-forward". Ah! A blinding shaft of light in an otherwise foggy film.
But Mark was very honest. He said "We are the authors of our misfortune...the one person to blame is me...I am at a crossroads...people don't expect me to hide away...they want me to just get on with it."
You can't knock his honesty. Is this an embryonic Portillo we see? I don't know. The beginning of the film was like an enthusiastic and rather naïve six-former having a stab at broadcasting. It got better. You can't go wrong with Phillip Hodson, the psychiatrist, who gave his view. I enjoyed the discussions with Michael Brown and Oona King.
I am not sure where this leaves us. I do wonder if there is a sort of Max Clifford figure behind all this. I wish Mark all the best and I can assure him that life is wonderful outside of politics.