“Sir Stanley’s” wife could not tolerate his abuse, and neither should the rest of us

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As it is not often that the domestic violence community enjoys official recognition, Boris Johnson’s proposed knighthood for his late mother’s nose-breaker, Stanley Johnson, should be welcome to at least some people outside the family.

Would it be unreasonable for his accomplices, IPVAW, to interpret Stanley’s tribute any more optimistically as evidence that the Tory party now recognizes that its 2021 Domestic Abuse Act was grossly overblown? Above all, the purported goal of this legislation is to “raise awareness and understanding of the devastating effects of domestic violence on victims and their families.”

In Stanley’s case, his ex-wife, the late artist Charlotte Wahl, kept his abuse a secret until she told Boris’ biographer Tom Bower four years ago that their marriage was “awful, awful”. “I want the truth to be told,” she said of Stanley’s violence, witnessed by Boris. “He beat me many times over many years.” Early on, he resented seeing her friends, “and that’s when he hit me for the first time.” She was later dumped in the countryside without a car. “To adultery and violence his family could add deserters.”

Although the full extent of her domestic torment was not made clear in excerpts released by the Daily Mail In 2020, it became national news that “Boris’ father broke his mother’s nose”. After a breakdown, Wahl had been admitted to Maudsley Hospital, where doctors, she said, “spoke to Stanley about his abuse of me.” Her parents confronted Stanley, “but he denied it”.

Further allegations can be found in Bower’s biography of Boris, The player. Stanley’s denials have been reported but are difficult to obtain.

Should Rishi Sunak allow himself to be knighted, there could hardly be a clearer sign that the Tory approach to domestic abuse will resume, after a temporary expression of interest, the standard complacency that allowed Theresa May to do the same honor to Geoffrey Boycott. He was convicted in 1998 for repeatedly hitting a girlfriend. Sir Geoffrey’s response when asked about it: “I could’t give a Toss.”

Judging from much of the enduring media sting for Johnson, domestic violence remains a deadly epidemic for society to live with

Even the King, if he is going to give in to Johnson’s abuse, should consider the academic claim that, as one study puts it, public attitudes towards IPVAW are “the social environment in which such violence occurs and the attitude towards acceptance of it IPVAW is considered to be a risk factor for actual IPVAW”. It follows that politicians and public figures who are serious about protecting women do not want honor to be accorded to men who hit them.

An accolade for Stanley can only raise awareness of what comes of the pathetic conviction rates, the disgusting police attitudes once again exposed in the David Carrick case, and indeed much of the enduring media esteem for Stanley after the Shame emerges: Domestic violence remains a deadly epidemic that society can live with. After Wahl finally revealed what Bower calls “the big family secret,” the networks’ appetite for their pursuer’s goofy condescension persisted as inexplicably strong as before his exposure. If honored, he might even increase his fee.

That Stanley didn’t see the need for any tangible regret or a touch of shame, if Sunak agrees with his survey, can only serve as a reminder to abuse victims that their assaults at home by the men in (or once in) their lives are still viewed as less , no more serious than attacks by strangers. Had Stanley been revealed by Bower that he had once broken the nose of a random woman in the street or repeatedly slapped female strangers in public, even his son might have expected an outright refusal to honor such a man. Given that the victim of that violence was Boris’ mother, who was attacked at home by what he would call “a loved one”, he could reasonably have expected what happened last week: a setback largely from his latest venture into nepotism .

Many responses to news that our leading cronyism is planning more cronyism ranked Stanley’s domestic violence, if it arose, among the lesser objections to Boris’ ongoing perversion of the honor system. Keir Starmer said it was “absolutely outrageous”. Why? “The idea of ​​an ex-Prime Minister paying homage to his father.” question timeFiona Bruce helpfully labeled the broken nose as “a one-off.” So far, Sunak has only had one nice comment about Father’s Day cards.

These interpretations saved defenders of Stanley’s promotion, such as his son’s ex Petronella Wyatt, the trouble of defending a title for a hitter. Wyatt argued that Stanley was a better environmentalist than his son “who once, while driving with me in the country, threw empty champagne bottles out of the car window.”

Admittedly, the sheer breadth of horrors associated with Stanley Johnson — from his zest for population control and six children, unwanted touches, contempt for the public, China promotion and mask non-compliance, to a capacity for aggression that Rachel Johnson referred to as “muscular fatherhood”. – makes attempts to express how overwhelmingly filthy and harmful his knighthood would be difficult. The caution or squeamishness of the press in naming Stanley’s domestic violence is also understandable given his sympathizers’ determination to describe the broken nose as an “isolated” incident post categorized it last week.

The same newspaper had quoted “friends of the family” in exposing the attack as saying it was “a one off”; that “it happened in the 1970s when Wahl was suffering from OCD” and Stanley was carelessly “punching around”.

They had to get the book to find out that his beatings were repeated and critical to their desire for a divorce. Her close friends, Bower writes, “knew that the fact that she was no longer willing to endure the violence was the turning point.”

As for the ’70s, Wahl apparently didn’t think 2020 was too late to learn more about the ubiquitous Stanley Johnson.

But perhaps Rishi Sunak will prove her wrong if he allows her molester’s knighthood.

• Catherine Bennett is a columnist for The Observer

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