I have spoken about this on radio recently and again, as the sentencing of both Vicky Pryce and her ex-husband Chris Huhne is imminent, it becomes a lesson in not letting anger take over.
There is no doubt that Vicky has just cause be angry at Chris Huhne. Whatever anyone may think of politicians and their families, it is clear that when a politician gets into parliament it is as a result of a huge effort from a large number of people and at the centre of this effort is the politician’s partner. It would appear more likely that, in the case of male politicians, their wives end up carrying a huge burden. Add to this that they may have a very successful career and the pressure is evident. Add more in the equation that Vicky gave up her role as Chief Economic Adviser in parliament which she vacated because she was afraid that allegations of conflicts of interest would be levelled at her when Chris Huhne joined the cabinet. So it’s clear to see that she has made more than the average level of sacrifice for her husband.
When, therefore, he reveals to her that he has been having an affair with his aide, it is understandable that she would be angry. Add in that he reportedly chose to tell Vicky of the betrayal during half time, when they were watching an international football match, suggests he thought the explanation and delivery of said bad news needed just enough time required to suck an orange and get a team talk done. It’s not surprising she was angry.
What followed was the classic highly intelligent mind taken over completely by anger. The Sunday Times journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who broke the story of Vicky taking speeding points for Chris, said that Vicky made four attempts to catch Chris out by ringing him up, provoking him and recording the telephone conversation.
Eventually, rather than seeking to trap him, she went for the direct admission and public shaming options and ended up in court.
The problem with being this angry with someone is that we become blind. It classically happens in divorce cases where the battle is prolonged and especially painful. The need for a win, no matter what, can take over and the cost both personal and financial matters very little. Interestingly, very little has been written,about the impact upon their 3 children as this story gets picked over.
Because the anger is so strong, there is no space for empathy and nothing to slow emotions down and allow thoughts to take over. The imperative is to hurt the other person no matter how we do it or whatever the cost. Anyone recognise that tendency in their arguments?
So, by acting in anger Vicky Pryce has now lost her job, her reputation and may lose her liberty. All this because she was angry and wanted either to win what she saw as a battle or wanted revenge for the hurt and sadness she had been caused. Whichever it was, her inability to see the wider picture and the potential consequences means ultimately she is the on one who has lost. In fact, Chris Huhne has lost, she has lost and her children have lost an opportunity for an essential level of stability between her and Chris that would have given them a platform to grow up, develop and meet the world that we all live in on equal terms.
Loss of this is a high price to pay for anger.