What is it, I idly wonder, with men of a certain vintage, that they collect wives and partners like confetti? And they all seem to fall into similar categories of boundless egos and self-belief, perhaps, I’m guessing, spinning the same self-serving anecdotes to each new spouse or live-in lover.
I give you in evidence and in no particular order, Donald Trump (three wives), Benjamin Netanyahu (three wives), Jeremy Corbyn (three wives), and, of course, the winner in the egg-and-spoon race, Boris Johnson (at least three wives to date and an unspecified number of offspring).
It remains an abiding mystery how any of these men could have persuaded one woman to marry them, let alone the multiples, but it remains the case. Trump’s first wife, Ivanka, died suddenly in unexplained circumstances last week, while Sara Netanyahu, presumably not wishing to join the ex-wives club, makes a point of sticking to her husband’s side to the point where you couldn’t put a cigarette paper between the two.
She did — of course — accompany him on his non-official visit to London last week, whose purpose has still not been revealed. Quite why it was necessary, or even thought acceptable, for Bibi to leave the country in the middle of his prolonged corruption trial, remains yet another unresolved puzzle. I’d love to be able to tell you more, but the former prime minister’s staffers maintained a strict radio silence throughout his time in the UK. You’d almost think he wanted to keep a low profile.
Meanwhile, I see to my horror that the Creature Whose Name I Vowed Never to Write Again — Corbyn — is being spoken of, with some seriousness, as a legitimate candidate to run for London mayor in 2024.
I must break my vow here because supposed “allies” of the one-time Labour leader and MP for Islington are already talking up his candidacy. Sadiq Khan, the current mayor, is in the middle of his second term of office in City Hall, having stood down as a Labour MP when he first ran in 2016.
Given that I am approaching this issue on a mildly flippant “good for the Jews, bad for the Jews” question, I think that Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor, has, on the whole, been a friend to the Jewish community. He made his first public appearance after his 2016 election at a Holocaust memorial event, and has held hands, literally and metaphorically, with members of the Jewish community ever since. And I do mean literally — I saw him at an Auschwitz commemoration where, completely unselfconsciously, he slipped his hand into that of a survivor, offering comfort and empathy. And no, it wasn’t for a photo-op.
Now for the suggestion that Corbyn, who will be 75 in 2024, compared with Sadiq Khan’s 54, could run as London mayor in two years’ time. Corbyn, of course, has no-one to please except himself, as he is no longer the holder of the Labour whip. He lost it, notoriously, for refusing to accept the findings of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism in the Labour Party.
So he now sits, scowling and petulant, as an independent on the back benches of the Commons, with only the true faithful Corbynites begging for their messiah to be redeemed. Running as mayor would be one in the eye for Labour — which, assuming he wants to run for a third term, is probably going to back Khan again.
When Corbyn was first put forward as Labour leader the reaction of far too many was to laugh — and look what happened. This time, we can’t say we weren’t warned.
These men with their multiple wives and partners — their inability to commit trickles down from their private to their public lives.