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est. 2005
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Jeremy Thorpe


Three rules: marry, don't pay blackmail, and be kind to dogs.

Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the U.K. Liberal Party from 1967 to 1976, followed the first rule, twice. His first marriage of convenience in 1968 quashed rumours of rent boys, and his wife's death in a car crash, ten days after the 1970 general election, gave him the sympathy vote. His second wife, previously married to the Queen's cousin, with a stately home near Ripon, helped the 1973 Liberal by-election victory there. In the 1974 general election, the Liberals gained 14 M.P.s in a hung parliament, and the Prime Minister offered Thorpe a cabinet post. He turned it down. By then he had neglected rule two.

A blackmailing former lover, Norman Scott, had kept making demands, so Thorpe mused that it would be good if he was bumped off. We will never know if he was serious, but a gunman did meet up with Scott on Bodmin moor, and shots were fired. If the bullets had killed Scott, that might have been the end of the matter; the plan was to drop the friendless troublemaker down an old mineshaft. But after the assassin killed Scott's dog Rinka, the gun jammed and Scott got away.

Oh dear! The British may forgive a sex scandal, but killing an innocent dog? At his trial for conspiracy to murder, a witness claimed that Thorpe had said, "We've got to get rid of [Scott]. It is no worse than shooting a sick dog." To everyone's surprise, he was acquitted, but at the subsequent election a comedian stood against him for the Dog Lovers Party, and he lost to his Conservative opponent. He lived another 35 years, but he'd broken the third rule and there was no way back.

--Jim Thornton

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