Head-butting MP Eric Joyce regrets his punch-up in parliament’s “Strangers Bar” but admits he’s probably not as remorseful as he should be.
“I feel regretful about the whole incident. You think about the people affected by it, of course. I’m certainly lucky not to go to jail,” the Falkirk MP told Channel 4, but added that he can’t help thinking it was a minor occurrence in the midst of world events such as Afghanistan.
“The whole think happened because I was drinking and being quite fighty” which, the 51-year-old admits, is nothing new.
Joyce started stealing cars and fighting as a teen. He never grew out of it and said he has been involved in fighting “a lot.” He told a newspaper earlier in the week he’s probably thumped 100 people – even as an adult – musing that he may have “stunted growth.”
He joined the Army at 18 as a private in the Black Watch, eventually taking a degree in religion and attending the prestigious Sandhurst military training academy. He served in Northern Ireland and Germany and rose to Army Major.
It has been two months since Joyce, whose father died of cancer at 15, hit two Conservative politicians and a fellow Labour MP while drinking with a friend in the Commons’ bar. Joyce was convicted on four counts of assault, fined £1300 and ordered to pay £1,400 in compensation to his victims. He was also ordered to do community service work.
Joyce veered from apologising to justifying his actions during the interview While he was “obviously unhappy I behaved badly and people were shocked,” moments later said he felt there was nothing wrong with consenting men indulging in “low level” violence “sorted out between the guys behind the building” without involving the police. Joyce likened it to how others may approve of sadomasochistic sex.
From what he remembers of the evening in question, he’d had several glasses of wine. “I was affected in a light-headed fun way.” When others in the bar took exception to his friend’s loud tone, Joyce said he lost control which led to pushing and shoving.
Joyce did say “too many Tories in the bar,” he admits, but adds that he usually gets along with many Conservative members of parliament.
Joyce denies having an affair with Meg Lauder, 17, who worked for him. They were “probably too close in the sense she was in the flat” Joyce said, but added that he’s had several non-sexual relationships with women and didn’t think it was a problem..
Does he think he’s unravelling? No. Joyce considers that he is functioning normally. He regrets he’s never fit in with the other MPs, and has great sadness that that he’s no longer a member of the Labour Party. He was forced to resign and apologise to parliament.
Joyce also admits feeling guilty at times that he hasn’t been a better role model for his children, who like to remind him: “Daddy’s not famous, he’s infamous.”