I’m the uncrowned queen of unsolicited advice, and there’s no reason why Craig Thomson should be spared this.
Despite all my best efforts to guide him out of this mess, Thomson insists on taking advice from other people. They may be lawyers, but they certainly lack imagination. Fancy spending all that time trying to walk the tightrope of avoiding gaol, when there are far better tactics available to him?
1) Go completely silent.
Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, used this to considerable effect during the early days of the English Reformation. Mind you, he ended up in prison and condemned for treason by a kangaroo court, but once the verdict was delivered, he was able to let rip and explain exactly what his position was. He was executed shortly after this, and canonised 400 years later. OK, so it’s not an ideal example, but it’s definitely one with long-term possibilities.
2) View the tape with the prostitute interviewed by A Current Affair and deny everything.
Thomson doesn’t seem to have considered that ACA may be bluffing. If he sees the tape, he can then accuse them of this. This would have cut much more ice than his actual response, which was to refuse to view the tape and then denounce everything as chequebook journalism. Thomson has forgotten that chequebook journalism has in fact exposed a huge number of very real political scandals: even though the end may not justify the means, at least the TV stations are paying for this with their own money, rather than stolen union dues. It’s one of the nice things about a free press.
3) Flee the country.
He can do this two ways – he can actually flee the country suddenly and go somewhere with no extradition arrangements, pleading his health or a dying grandmother. Or, Julia Gillard can send him on a fact-finding mission a long way away, for a long time. This will only bring further discredit on her government, but honestly, we stopped talking about the bottom of that barrel a long time ago.
4) Break down in tears and tell the truth, and resign.
John Profumo did it, and he was a better man than Thomson ever will be. It would do much in the long run to repair Thomson’s reputation, his family life and his mental health. But if this is unpalatable stuff, then the next option is to –
5) Do a completely brazen back-flip, admit everything, and say ‘Sue me’.
In fact, go on as many TV programs as you can cram in, admitting everything cheerfully and in detail, with relish and verve. Australians have a soft spot for an utter rascal, and if Thomson could successfully reinvent himself as the Sir Les Patterson of the Gillard government, he might find that, far from being despised and disgraced, he has a nice career ahead of him as an after-dinner speaker, on the conference circuit, and with his own talk show.
It’s just a thought.