9 British Politicians & The Scandals That Ruined Them

When the electorate sprinkles fairy dust on a vainglorious, thrusting politician and sends them to Parliament, we expect the expected. Once ensconced in his seat, our representative will be privy to all manner of temptation. The great and good might just succumb. Here are nine that did. And in the UK, it's nearly always sex that does it.

1. Keays To The Door

The scandal: In 1983 Cecil Parkinson, the 50-year-old Chairman of the Conservative Party "“ that slicked-backed golden boy of Tory politics "“ was found to be conducting an extra-marital affair with 34-year-old Sara Keays. And she was carrying his child.

The fallout: Keays told her story to the Times; Parkinson resigned his post. On New Year's Eve 1983, Keays gave birth to Flora.

Political suicide? Yes. Took the more junior posts of Energy Secretary and Transport Secretary; stood down at the 1992 Election.

2. Get Yer Kit On!

The scandal: In 1992, David Mellor, jut-toothed rising star in the Conservative Party and heritage minister, enjoyed a passionate affair with a little-known actress called Antonia de Sancha "“ she'd starred as a one-legged prostitute who shags the pizza boy in the straight-to-bin film The Pieman. During their conference it was alleged Mellor had romped in his Chelsea football kit.

The fallout: The Sun screamed "FROM TOE JOB TO NO JOB." De Sancha employed PR guru Max Clifford to milk her moment for all it was worth. Mellor posed for photos with his cuckolded wife Judith and their two boys. Britain cringed. Mellor resigned.

Political suicide? Yes. Remained MP for Putney until the 1997 General Election. Then appointed Chairman of the Government's Task Force on Football. He later left his wife. He currently presents If You Like That, You'll Like This on Classic FM.

3. Don't Badger The Witness

The scandal: In 1998, Ron Davies, the then Welsh Secretary, had "a moment of madness." He told police he had been robbed at knifepoint after meeting a stranger, one Donald Fearon, while taking a bracing stroll through a gay meeting place on a moonlit Clapham Common.

The fallout: The first person to resign from Blair's Cabinet. Later admitted he was bisexual.

Political suicide? Not yet. For that Davies needed to be caught in the bushes with a stranger at Tog Hill, a beauty spot near Bath. "I have actually been watching badgers since first thing this morning," said he. Quit Labour in 1994. Badgers kept silent.

4. Dead Reckoning

stonehouse.jpgThe scandal: In 1974, John Stonehouse, Labour MP for Wednesbury (now Walsall North) faked his own death to escape a Department of Trade investigation into his business empire. Eventually tried and sentenced to seven years jail.

The fallout: Fooled everyone, including his wife, daughter mother, his party and the BBC. Bizarrely, returned to take up his seat. In 1976, the party demanded his resignation.

Political suicide? Deader than he'd ever been when merely pretending to be dead. Died for real in 1988. Apparently.

5. Spinning Out Of Control

The scandal: 9/11/2001. Thousands dead. World in shock. And Jo Moore, spin doctor to Transport Secretary Stephen Byers, sends out an email saying: "It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury." Classy.

The fallout: This was cynicism "“ or "spinicism" "“ at its very worst. Surely Byers had to sack her. But he didn't. This was the beginning of his end, and in May 2002 he bit the bullet "“ his resignation buried at a time when Westminster was in recess.

Political suicide? No. Byers was more a victim of the time than of his own behaviour. He remains an MP "“ albeit buried on the backbenches.

6. Tory Falls On His Sword

The scandal: Tory MP Jonathan Aitken appealed to "the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play."

He'd been accused by the press of being involved in an arms deal with Prince Mohammed of Saudi Arabia. "Never! Not in this world!" said Aitken.

"If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play," he added, "so be it. I am ready for the fight. The fight against falsehood and those who peddle it. My fight begins today. Thank you and good afternoon."

Hurrah! He took the Guardian to court. He lost. Liar! He was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to perjury.

The fallout: Resigned from John Major's Cabinet before the trial "“ to spend more time with his lawyers. Lost his seat to Labour in 1997.

Political suicide? Yes. Aitken made noises about returning to parliament as a Tory MP, but he's not wanted any more.

7. A Family Man

clark.jpgThe scandal: Vain, reckless, maverick, entertaining, philandering and astute, Tory Alan Clark would go far in politics.

He slept with the wife and daughter of South African judge James Harkness. Clark suggested he should be "horse-whipped" for all his extra-marital affairs.

The fallout: The man whose diary was turned into a six-part series for BBC Four "“ the castle-dweller who thought police following his speeding car were his escort "“ was never going to be done down so easily. The affair produced a great anecdote. And there were plenty of envious glances from his colleagues.

Political suicide? Sure, he quit politics at the 1992 election, but missed it greatly. Died while MP for Kensington and Chelsea.

8. Bottoms Up

The scandal: In 1981, ginger Labour MP Allan Roberts visited Berlin's Buddy Club. A witness claims Allan was approached by a man clad in an SS uniform. "Name," he demanded. "Allan," said Allan. "Nein," said the German. "It is Rover." He then attached a lead to Allen's studded dog collar and whipped him before a baying crowd.

The fallout: He denied ever being into bondage. He said he'd been drunk, fallen over and injured himself.

Political suicide? No. Received a massive vote of confidence from his local party members. When he died in 1990, he had a spanking good majority of over 24,000.

9. The Greatest

The scandal: The LibDems might not be able to point to much scandal, but they can boast of Horatio Bottomley, a gifted cheat of flamboyant character, widely regarded by historians as the most corrupt MP of all time. He was, in 1922, jailed for seven years for various frauds.

The fallout: Persuaded the prosecution to allow him to break each day at 11:30 so that he could drink a bottle of champagne. Tried a comeback. But failed.

Political suicide? Yes. Remained in the public eye, touring the Empire lecturing.

Paul Sorene is the Anorak. He survives on donations and the tolerance of Old Mr Anorak, his patron. Paul is hawked out to various media outlets whenever OMA is low on supplies. Paul has written for numerous news organs, and will be filing occasional reports from the UK for mental_floss.

Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels

If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

15 Dad Facts for Father's Day

Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"


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