Brytyjski liberalizm w działaniu, czyli sławna afera Profumo

Zapewne nigdy się nie dowiemy jakie były kulisy przesławnej afery Profumo, wszak jej akta utajniono do 2046… Jednak to co wiadomo pokazuje jak poważnym państwem jest Zjednoczone Królestwo i jak surowo traktuje członków rządzącej nim kasty, jeśli popełnią poważne błędy.

Afera Profumo – polityczny skandal z roku 1963 w Wielkiej Brytanii. Nazwa pochodzi od ministra, sekretarza stanu ds. wojny (ang. Secretary of State for War), Johna Profumo**.

Profumo był dobrze wykształconym i szanowanym ministrem w rządzie Partii Konserwatywnej, mężem aktorki Valerie Hobson. U źródeł skandalu stał jego przelotny, kilkutygodniowy romans z showgirl Christine Keeler w 1961. Pogłoski o romansie krążyły po Londynie, jednak nie zachwiały one pozycji Profumo.

W grudniu 1962 po wypadku z bronią palną, w który uwikłani byli dwaj inni kochankowie Keeler, prasa ujawniła związki Keeler z Profumo wraz z informacją, że Keeler spotykała się także z Jewgienijem („Eugene”) Iwanowem, attaché morskim (ang. senior naval attaché) ambasady Związku Radzieckiego w Londynie.***

Brytyjska tradycja respektowania prywatnych spraw polityków ostała się do marca 1963, kiedy to George Wigg poseł z Partii Pracy poruszył tę sprawę w parlamencie ze względu na „bezpieczeństwo narodowe”. …wkrótce (5 czerwca 1963) Profumo został zmuszony do przyznania, iż skłamał w swoim oświadczeniu w Parlamencie. Zrezygnował także z roli ministra, członka parlamentu i Privy Council. Skandal wstrząsnął rządem konserwatystów i przyczynił się do przejęcia władzy przez Partię Pracy w wyborach w 1964.”

Polska wiki nie oddaje dobrze rozmiarów tej afery, i jej skutków:

The Times called Profumo’s lies „a great tragedy for the probity of public life in Britain”; the Daily Mail recorded Profumo’s fall and disgrace as the price required when public figures fell short of the expected standards of integrity. The Daily Mirror hinted that not all the truth had been told, and referred to „skeletons in many cupboards”. …

After the parliamentary debate, newspapers published further sensational stories, hinting at widespread immorality within Britain’s governing class. A story emanating from Rice-Davies concerned a naked masked man, who acted as a waiter at sex parties; rumours suggested that he was a cabinet minister, or possibly a member of the Royal Family. …

A later commentator opined that the Profumo affair had destroyed the old, aristocratic Conservative party: „It wouldn’t be too much to say that the Profumo scandal was the necessary prelude to the new Toryism, based on meritocracy, which would eventually emerge under Margaret Thatcher”. The Economist suggested that the Profumo affair had effected a fundamental and permanent change in relations between politicians and press. Davenport-Hines posits a longer-term consequence of the affair—the gradual ending of traditional notions of deference: „Authority, however disinterested, well-qualified and experienced, was [after June 1963] increasingly greeted with suspicion rather than trust”. ”

Przy czym, warto tu przypomnieć co działo się w UK i na świecie w 1962:

In British politics, the „Night of the Long Knives” was a major Cabinet reshuffle that took place on 13 July 1962. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan dismissed seven members of his Cabinet, one-third of the total. …The speed and size of the reshuffle was unprecedented in British political history. The sackings were mockingly named after the 1934 Night of the Long Knives, when Adolf Hitler had many Sturmabteilung supporters of Ernst Röhm either executed or arrested. Macmillan was accused of having acted hastily and of being ungrateful in sacking his party’s most loyal officials.”

22 października: kryzys kubański – prezydent John F. Kennedy wprowadził blokadę morską Kuby; pod zarzutem szpiegostwa na rzecz USA i Wielkiej Brytanii aresztowano Olega Pieńkowskiego, wysokiego oficera radzieckiego wywiadu wojskowego GRU.

Czas na puentę.

Bohater afery, John Profumo, zaczął pokutę od własnoręcznego czyszczenia publicznych latryn. „Profumo „had to be persuaded to lay down his mop and lend a hand running the place”, eventually becoming Toynbee Hall’s chief fundraiser, and used his political skills and contacts to raise large sums of money. All this work was done as a volunteer, since Profumo was able to live on his inherited wealth. His wife, the actress Valerie Hobson, also devoted herself to charity until her death in 1998. In the eyes of most commentators, Profumo’s charity work redeemed his reputation. His friend, social reform campaigner Lord Longford said he „felt more admiration [for Profumo] than [for] all the men I’ve known in my lifetime”.

Profumo was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1975, and received the honour at a Buckingham Palace ceremony from Queen Elizabeth II, signalling his return to respectability. In 1995, former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher invited him to her 70th birthday dinner, where he sat next to the Queen.”

Jeśli zaś chodzi o lady Astor: „Within three years of her marriage Bronwen’s world was turned upside down by the infamous Profumo Affair, which brought down Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s government. Bill died from a heart attack in 1966, leaving Bronwen with two young daughters.

Bronwen left Cliveden with her daughters, to live in Tuesley Manor, Godalming, Surrey. She opened her new home to the homeless and in 1983 trained as a psychotherapist.”

Macmillan had been elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1960, in a campaign masterminded by Hugh Trevor-Roper, and held this office for the rest of his life, frequently presiding over college events, making speeches and tirelessly raising funds. …

With hereditary peerages again being created under Thatcher, Macmillan requested the earldom that had been customarily bestowed to departing prime ministers, and on 24 February 1984 he was created Earl of Stockton and Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden. He is the last Prime Minister to have been given an hereditary peerage, although Margaret Thatcher’s husband was later given a baronetage, which passed onto her own son.”

___

**) Albert Peter Anthony Profumo KC (1879 – 27 March 1940) was an English barrister.

The Profumo family is of Italian origin, and Albert Profumo held the title of 4th Baron Profumo in the nobility of the Kingdom of Sardinia. His family made their fortune in insurance. He owned much of the Provident Life of London. He was succeeded as Baron by his son, politician John Profumo. His grandson is David Profumo. His daughter Mary Ainslie Profumo married Harold Balfour, 1st Baron Balfour of Inchrye.

***) Ivanov was recalled to Moscow in December 1962, prior to the Profumo affair becoming public knowledge. Upon returning to the Soviet Union he continued his naval career, being assigned to the Black Sea Fleet. It is not known whether Ivanov continued to work with the GRU but he was reportedly awarded the Order of Lenin. He did not remarry.

In 1994, Ivanov was found dead in his Moscow flat at the age of 68.
Ivanov’s partially ghost-written memoirs The Naked Spy were published in 1992. In the book Ivanov stated that he had been able to obtain significant military intelligence by accessing British political circles. However he claimed that his GRU seniors remained unaware of his relationship with Keeler until the story broke in the UK, since he saw no need to report upon a private relationship.

 

 

 

 

 

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