Since entering the House of Commons in 2010, Simon Danczuk has attracted publicity for his forthright views, his campaigns and his increasingly complicated personal life.
Close friends of the Labour MP for Rochdale are concerned that his talents are at risk of being wasted because of a mid-life crisis that is spiralling out of control. The last few years, they say, have been punctuated by bouts of heavy drinking, intense fitness regimes and inappropriate relationships.
His suspension from the Labour party is unwarranted, one said. “Simon has been very foolish and he deserves a kicking from the media, but I think it’s a bit harsh to suspend him. Since when did the Labour party take its lead from the Sun? In the history of parliamentary sex scandals this doesn’t even merit a footnote.
“The police say there’s no case to answer and it’s just a moment of weakness at a time when he was at a low ebb and probably drinking too much.”
His actions in allegedly sending inappropriate texts to a 17-year-old girl follow years of combative behaviour against Labour colleagues.
If there is a way of de-selecting him, few of those within the party’s leadership and parliamentary party will intervene on his behalf, one inside source said.
“I can’t think of anyone who will shed a tear for him in Lancashire or Labour HQ. If either can find a way of getting rid of him, they will,” said a party official.
Danczuk won praise for his work in exposing the former Liberal MP in his seat, the late Cyril Smith, as a paedophile. He also co-authored a book that showed how Smith had used his friends in the police and parliament to help cover his tracks, and was at the forefront of the campaign to expose a grooming ring of mainly Asian men in his constituency.
He has, however, made many enemies in his own party in 2015. He predicted a coup against Jeremy Corbyn on the day he was elected leader and offered himself as a possible stalking horse candidate in any forthcoming challenge.
Momentum supporters have been active in his constituency and his colleagues often invite him to join Ukip because of his views. He wants to see tighter controls on borders, cuts in benefits for recent immigrants and foreign aid to be redirected to help UK flood victims.
It has, however, been Danczuk’s private life that has attracted most publicity. He married Karen, his second wife, in 2012 and together they took to social media with gusto.
Karen, a Labour councillor 16 years his junior, posted photos of herself wearing low cut tops, and became known as “the Selfie Queen”. They separated in June, and their split has involved a public war of words, with claims of affairs and alcohol abuse.
Earlier this year he began a relationship with another Labour councillor, Claire Hamilton. They split up last week after she allegedly claimed he had cheated on her.
Danczuk left school at 16 and went to work in a factory that made gas fires. He studied at night school, read economic sociology and politics at Lancaster University and founded a research company with Ruth Turner, Tony Blair’s former adviser.
After a period of success, the company lost most of its business following the 2010 general election and went into liquidation with debts of £222,000.
In the 1990s, Danczuk became heavily involved in Labour politics in Lancashire, serving as a councillor for eight years in Blackburn, and as an election agent. He was selected in 2007 as Labour’s candidate for Rochdale, but fell out badly with some people on his own side.
He finally won in 2010, unseating the Lib Dem MP Paul Rowen. With his usual knack of being at the centre of the story, he was filmed during the campaign standing next to Gordon Brown as they chatted to Gillian Duffy, whom the then-prime minister later infamously described as “that bigoted woman”.
His friends say he will be back. “He never met this woman and has never spoken to her. Simon has much to offer the party,” said one.
This article was written by Rajeev Syal, for theguardian.com on Thursday 31st December 2015 14.32 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010