BLACK SEPTEMBER

Rotten ApplesIf the available ingredients are Paul Gambaccini, Larry Elder and 9/11, is there a suitable recipe that can successfully blend them so the end result is a satisfactory soufflé? Such is the dilemma that often faces yours truly when several stories are vying for attention without any inspiring me enough to pen an entire post. If not giving over one post to one story, the task is then to join the dots of apparently unrelated plots and make a valid connection that holds up to scrutiny, regardless of whether or not any common factors jump out and join hands. However, perhaps the one thing these three individual storylines share is the Winegum Telegram itself. Each contains elements of stories that have been covered on here various times over the past six years, whether false allegations, Identity Politics, or reflections on where we are now courtesy of an event that took place two whole decades ago.

As far as Gambo is concerned, there is certainly enough history to warrant a post, though I’ve satirised his self-important pomposity via other online mediums many times; in this particular case, however, a live TV outburst during a down-the-line interview with Victoria Derbyshire on the BBC encompassed other previous topics like the corruption of the Met and the folly of media-driven witch-hunts into ‘historical abuse’. Gambaccini, for all his faults, has become a defiant contradiction to the narrative the BBC has stuck to ever since the Savile scandal almost a decade ago, and seeing him let rip with the enduring anger of a man to whom a criminal wrong was done remains an undoubtedly novel sight on our premier broadcaster. Gambo was invited onto the BBC News Channel to discuss an open letter signed by numerous prestigious parties (including Stephen Lawrence’s mother) who declared themselves victims of the Met’s incompetence and malpractice; the letter in question was a protest at the suggestion Met Commissioner Cressida Dick would have her contract extended for another couple of years. It demanded Boris Johnson curtail Ms Dicks’ role ASAP on the grounds that she has done nothing to alter the corrupt culture within the Met since her promotion.

Ms Derbyshire attempted to uphold the now-redundant BBC pretence of impartiality during the exchange, but something that was once admirable and key to the BBC’s position has been so abused in recent years that it no longer convinces as a tactic. And it prompted an understandably incendiary outburst by Gambo. ‘All throughout the witch-hunt,’ he snarled, ‘the BBC was on the side of the wrongdoers – and this will come out, by the way; don’t think that we are going to go away. We haven’t come for the BBC yet because we’re doing the Met now, but in the years to come – boy, the truth about the BBC complicity in the witch-hunt will be known.’ The fact that this is a former BBC star employee returning to plunge the knife into a corporation that failed to reward loyalty and long service by presuming guilt before innocence is perhaps emblematic of so much that has gone wrong at the Beeb in the last decade or so, and one cannot help but sympathise when Gambo admitted, ‘I’m sorry to have to say negative things about people; this is not why I went into public life.’

Circumstance and unforeseen events have forced the likes of Paul Gambaccini into the place he currently occupies; I’m pretty certain he’d be far happier embedded as the anchor of a long-running show on any of the BBC’s five national radio networks than having to kick his former employer while it’s down, but he no longer has a choice. The climate the Western world currently finds itself inhabiting is one some of us saw coming a long time ago, and we knew it was one in which we’d have to stand up and be counted. Hot on the heels of ‘Exposure’, I’m currently working my way through another of my previous satirical series, ’25 Hour News’, for Patreon uploading. Considering the material is seven years old, it’s nevertheless drawn an enthusiastic response from my subscribers – and one unnerving element of sitting through it again for the first time in a long time is how disturbingly prescient it seems. I saw a genuine TV news story yesterday from Australia that melodramatically reported on a dozen cops pouncing upon a solitary individual seen walking alone in the open air without wearing a mask. If that’s the actual news, then there really is no need for a parody anymore.

Moreover, who would ever have imagined back in a year as relatively recent as 2014 that it would eventually be perfectly permissible for a white activist masquerading as ‘anti-fascist’ to wear a gorilla mask and physically abuse a black politician running for the office of California Governor? That’s what happened this week to Larry Elder, the broadcaster-turned-political candidate who happens to be that most unfathomable breed to the SJW, an African-American Republican. Of course, the outrage that would have greeted this act captured on camera (or Smartphone) had Elder been a Democrat would have made Elder an international household name overnight; the woman in the gorilla mask would be eviscerated by media of both the mainstream and social persuasion and it’d be the lead story on CNN as well as splashed across the front page of the New York Times, held up as yet one more example of America’s systemic racism. As it is, Elder’s political affiliations means the story has been summarily buried by all the media outlets that ordinarily fall over themselves to push the race agenda, which suggests race is not really the issue after all. If it was, then it would be applied to everyone, regardless of where they stand on the ideological spectrum.

The racism inherent in ‘anti’ racism is really laid bare when it comes to how a character like Larry Elder is treated by the left. He refuses to play the oppressed victim card and evidently has the ‘wrong’ opinions; in the skewered logic of the Woke mindset, he’s fair game for racist abuse due to the fact he’s an Uncle Tom, nothing more than a subservient mouthpiece for White Supremacy on account of not sticking to the script whereby everyone has their preordained place. Should Larry Elder become the first black Governor of California, his achievement most likely won’t count in the same way that Margaret Thatcher still doesn’t count to some over here as a glass ceiling-smasher because she came from the wrong side of the divide. One doesn’t have to agree with all his beliefs to hope Elder wins – if only for the fact his victory would shatter the unhealthy omnipotence of the dominant dogma and enable even more people to discern the double standards bullshit at the rotten core of Identity Politics.

And so we ice the cake with some 9/11 topping. It was 20 years ago today? Yes, hard to believe for those of us who were around, I guess; but there it is on the calendar – and we only have to look at current events in Afghanistan to be reminded of its legacy. Amidst the expected TV documentaries which followed a well-trodden path, I did see one which focused on the Presidential perspective, featuring extensive and previously unaired recollections from Dubya and all his key players who are still alive. It was genuinely fascinating to hear how that dramatic day unfolded for the Commander-in-Chief and how his frightened team had so little clue as to what was happening, forced into flying around in circles aboard Air Force One, desperately trying to work out anywhere to land that might be safe. It served as a reminder of just how unprepared America was for 9/11 and how the passing of decades had erased the collective wakeup call of Pearl Harbour; given the diminishing length of attention spans, the sixty years that separated Pearl Harbour and 9/11 has probably been halved so that the impact of 9/11 on the present day will perhaps be gone within ten years from now. Considering how quickly the illiberal nature of certain pandemic policies has been normalised, perhaps we won’t have to wait even that long.

© The Editor

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GENERAL HYSTERIA

One factor that made the prospect of an early General Election a little mouth-watering to a weary electorate (if one momentarily removes the B-word from the mix) was the enticing opportunity to eject Parliament’s abundance of dead wood. At least the anticipated tsunami of ‘Portillo moments’ through the night would have made making a fourth trek to the local polling station in as many years a worthy journey. Yet, maybe expecting such a motley crew of freeloaders and chancers to honour their contract with the people was a tall order; we make the effort by voting, but they don’t complement it by standing. Yes, it would’ve been out of character for the majority of those names whose scalps were most sought for them to show a bit of backbone and face their constituents. Rather than strolling to the gallows with dignity intact and heads held high, a number of high profile parliamentarians have bottled it and headed for the hills like the gutless charlatans we all knew they were.

Exempting the veterans who’ve put the hours in for decades and are understandably looking forward to the state-subsidised retirement home that is the Lords, many of the MPs jumping before being pushed are surprisingly young, declining to stick it out and follow in the footsteps of their far senior colleagues before calling it day. But they’re not stupid. They know what we know. An MP going back on promises made during a campaign is hardly a new development, but an unlimited number of the current crop have taken that time-honoured practice to an unprecedented level over the last couple of years, and they were aware that they’d pay for it when the voters got their chance to have their say again. So, they’ve denied voters that say and have taken the Goering-at-Nuremberg route instead.

The most unexpected albeit welcome resignation of all was announced yesterday evening: The former Paedofinder General himself, Tom no-longer-tubby Watson, has stood down as Jezza’s second-in-command and as an MP. The usual nauseating guff was spewed out across news programmes from former colleagues and cohorts in the wake of the announcement; but this master opportunist has walked the plank because he’s run out of bandwagons to hitch a ride on. His position in the party has been increasingly marginalised with the defection of so many other so-called ‘moderates’ to the Lib Dems – those whose stance he failed to publicly support because it placed his own precious ambitions in jeopardy; yes, he survived an attempted coup on the eve of the Labour conference, though the People’s Vote smokescreen was to be the last ‘cause’ Watson would desperately use as a tool of self-promotion.

But perhaps the personal reasons Watson has offered as an explanation for his sudden exit are related to issues outside of routine party politics; perhaps Watson realised if he rose any higher in public office the level of scrutiny of his past activities would escalate; and Tom Watson has quite a record that even a snake like him would struggle to wriggle out of. The sentencing of Carl Beech earlier this year served as belated, official confirmation of something many of us had long known – that Beech was a dangerous serial fantasist who had already duped the police by exploiting their unswerving adherence to the ‘Believe the Victim’ mantra; he had also handsomely profited from a compensation culture that failed to dig any deeper into his own unsavoury predilections. And Tom Watson bought Beech’s bullshit because it suited his career path.

As an obscure backbencher with ravenous ambitions, Watson first made a name for himself by exhuming the nonexistent corpse of a distant ‘dossier’ listing the members of an imaginary Westminster Paedophile Ring that had been rightly dismissed as cack back in the 80s. Opportunistically tapping into the hysteria generated by the fallout of the Yewtree witch-hunt – and crucially supported by Beech’s celebrity abuse fantasies – Watson’s flabby bulk all-but burst out of his ill-fitting suit as he achieved his spot on the news bulletins and legitimised the scurrilous stories that had been doing the online rounds for years, stories spread by some of the most unpleasant individuals ever to approach a keyboard. An audience with Beech himself sealed Watson’s central role in a saga that would never have scaled the horrific heights (or plumbed the damaging depths) it managed thereafter when refashioned as Operation Midland had he not endorsed it. The casualties of Watson’s irresponsible intervention in a crusade that cost the tax-payer millions and achieved little beyond inflicting untold misery on endless innocent lives will never forgive him, and nor should they.

For some, however, it doesn’t matter that Beech has been convicted and sentenced and the entire affair has been exposed as the product of several sick imaginations; they remain convinced truth was at the root of it. This is their religion. What the sponsors of the Westminster Paedo Ring fable required in order to rise above the plethora of wild conspiracy theories keeping narcissistic sociopaths awake at night was the endorsement of a public figure outside of their toxic circle; and when Tom Watson seized upon the story as a means of furthering his career, they got it. No longer the province of Icke devotees and flat earth fruitcakes, this was now an official scandal because an honourable member believed it. Or did he?

As a Labour MP, Watson realised there are millions of voters out there who hate the Tories so much they are willing to believe any awful rumour because it confirms their prejudices – and might make them vote Labour. So, Ted Heath is still reviled by many for signing us up to the European project; say he was a child-abusing/murdering cannibal Satanist all along and that vindicates the disproportionate distrust the late PM continues to inspire. As any leader writer for the Mail or Guardian knows, it’s not hard to make biased bigots feel better about themselves by telling them they’re right – and Watson’s worrying promotion from backbencher to Deputy Labour Leader during the Corbyn revolution placed him in a position of power that appeared to give further credence to the crap that had put him on the front pages.

Viewed as a moderate voice essential to maintaining the ‘broad church’ illusion of equilibrium within the Shadow Cabinet, Watson held onto his post even when his allies gradually drifted away from the party – even when the persistent cancer of anti-Semitism proved too much for most of them. Yet, one never got the impression Watson stood firm because he was a lone heroic figure resisting the Momentum takeover; with Watson, it has always been all about him. Sensing which way the wind was blowing, he abruptly embraced the Second Referendum fad as a means of laying the foundations for a leadership challenge and capturing floating voters who could never warm to Jezza. The concern was he’d succeed in his aim. But Tom Watson has at least spared us all from that with his surprise announcement – and perhaps spared himself more awkward questions he still needs to be asked. It’s not a noble sacrifice; it’s still all about him.

© The Editor

INCREDIBLE AND FALSE

Yes, amidst the relentless Woke propaganda that constitutes the morning schedule of Radio 4, there are still some shows that are good to shave to; I heard one this morning, part of a series going behind the scenes of one-time headlines and examining the way in which the media re-jigs a story to suit its particular agenda. This edition of ‘The Corrections’ dealt with the 2016 street attack and murder of Harlow-based Pole Arkadiuz Joswik by a gang of juvenile delinquents; the horrible incident was almost immediately labelled a hate-crime inspired by Brexit, despite little evidence that the teenage perpetrators had Leave in mind when they inflicted the assault. Harlow has a large East European immigrant community and the distict is pro-Brexit; join the dots.

However, as a journalist interviewed for the programme pointed out, Fleet Street scribes are rarely dispatched to any newsworthy location without a remit. He gave a made-up example of being sent to somewhere like Blackpool. Commanded to write a sorry story of urban decay, said hack would visit all the most deprived parts of town out-of-season, study derelict high-streets, speak to depressed locals, Labour councillors etc. Then turn things around – write a tale of Blackpool’s regeneration: make the journey on a crowded Bank Holiday Monday, describe a swarm of happy holiday-makers, have some civic dignitary show-off plans for a new leisure complex or shopping centre etc. One person’s fake news is evidently another’s truth.

Okay, I appreciate it’s hardly revelatory that impartiality and objectivity are absent from the newsprint medium; it has always reflected the interests and bias of its editors and proprietors, not to say its readers. When it comes to broadcast media, on the other hand, the BBC has traditionally prided itself on impartiality and objectivity, even though this stance has taken rather a battering of late. Attempts to uphold the alleged breaching of editorial guidelines by ‘Breakfast’ presenter Naga Munchetty via her reaction to a report on Trump have left the Corporation with egg on its face once again; and on the subject of Brexit, the BBC’s pro-Remain position is woefully blatant, not only in the field of current affairs, but in every genre from drama to comedy; the subtext is both persistent and consistent. Hah hah hah – stupid racist Brexiteers; ooh – dangerous racist Brexiteers.

But this is the age of the nodding dog echo-chamber, lest we forget. If you have a point of view and you’d rather have it reinforced than challenged, there’s a whole community out there that agrees with you. Just make sure you don’t upset them. The online obsession with child abuse of a historic nature gave rise to some of the most extreme fanaticism yet seen, and it’s telling that even when certain untruths were belatedly exposed as such by the MSM, the refusal to accept what certain brave souls had been ripped to shreds for saying years before is still the line to take for some. As the main focus of R4’s ‘The Corrections’ reminded listeners, once a story is set in stone, for many that means it remains that way for good, especially if it chimes with an individual’s rigid beliefs.

Amazingly, regardless of the trial and sentencing of the discredited Carl Beech for his litany of lies that ruined many lives, a few fanatics continue to give credence to the convicted paedophile’s lurid fantasies – perhaps because some of those fanatics helped feed them in the first place. Despite the 2016 publication of a damning report into Operation Midland, one that referred a Deputy Assistant Commissioner and four detectives to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, it still took until Beech was in the dock before it became safe to say out loud that he was full of shit. And now a more uncut version of ex-high court judge Richard Henrique’s report has reinstated the redacted confirmation that the men from the Met conspired and agreed to irresponsibly announce that Beech’s tall tales of Westminster’s VIP Paedo Ring were ‘credible and true’ when the investigation had barely begun.

Scotland Yard’s ‘institutional stupidity’ is laid bare in the report. The decision to publicly back Beech was made by Det. Sgt Kenny McDonald (now retired) and then-Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse, in response to which Henriques writes ‘I find it an error for two very senior officers who have never met a witness and, in the DAC’s case, not in himself read either Nick’s interviews or blogs, to announce to the press and public that they believe the witness.’ Current Met Chief Cressida Dick was, at the time, assistant commissioner of specialist operations, which included sexual abuse cases, though she is understandably reluctant to sanction further probing. Ditto Labour’s Deputy Leader, whose own grubby role in the sordid affair is writ large by Henriques. Tom Watson, who met Beech and encouraged him to pursue his allegations, is blamed for putting further pressure on officers; Henriques says ‘there can be no doubt’ Bunter ‘believed Nick’. Well, bugger me.

Though not the brightest of buttons in a Cabinet admittedly hardly overflowing with intellectual giants, Priti Patel this week followed in the footsteps of another female Home Secretary (AKA Mrs May) by refusing to kowtow to the police force. Patel has ordered a fresh inquiry into the damaging moral crusade that was Operation Midland, something Cressida Dick continues to resist, as do those rewarded with retirement or transferred to a cushy job at the National Crime Agency (i.e. McDonald and Rodhouse respectively). Whether any of the guilty men responsible for the ‘43 failings by investigators’ or the impressive waste of taxpayers’ money – £2.5 million, of course – or the needless tarnishing of reputations will ever answer for this disaster remains to be seen. Over to you, Home Secretary.

Unfortunately, as stated earlier about stories set in stone, there will forevermore be the ‘ah, but…’ factor even if innocence has been proven and a lie has been confirmed. Once a ‘fact’ is fixed in the public perception, it’s very hard to dispel it; whether proof of a myth comes via a Court of Law or an editorial apology, it makes no difference; for some, the belief that if smoke was once sighted there’s bound to be a fire somewhere is a permanent position. As Derren Brown has shown for entertainment and bad therapists with the default setting of childhood abuse as a response to any adult calamity regularly demonstrate, planting seeds in pliable minds is easily done. And if those seeds were obtained from the agendas of broadcasters, so be it, alas.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1082364096

© The Editor

THE BEECH BOY

Veteran devotees of my oeuvre may recall a spoof documentary series that once garnered me handsome viewing figures on YouTube; titled ‘Exposure’, it was the beneficiary of a people’s platform now gone, appearing long before Google flexed its monopolising muscles and clamped down on dissent and mischief simply because it can. Satirising the Savile-inspired paedo panic of Operation Yewtree and its very own Matthew Hopkins – i.e. failed police gargoyle Mark Williams-Thomas – the series eventually struggled to encompass the ever-expanding roll-call of opportunistic ‘victims’ coming forward with suspect sob stories. So many compensation claims and imaginative misery memoirs were weighing down the bandwagon by the final episode of ‘Exposure’ that some characters’ sizeable contribution to the hysteria didn’t grab centre stage until after it was all over.

‘Nick’ gains one or two mentions in the later ‘Exposure’ instalments, but he emerged too late to receive the full treatment, despite being the prime mover behind the Dolphin Square and Elm Guest House fables. He was the shady figure whose litany of personal suffering at the grubby hands of establishment abusers knew no bounds – at least according to the testimony documented with slavering relish by Exaro, a deservedly-discredited online outlet with an appetite for lurid sensationalistic scandal that made the News of the World resemble the Financial Times. A few in the know were aware ‘Nick’ was called Carl Beech, but Beech exploited his legal anonymity to the full, safe in the knowledge that the targets of his retrospective allegations wouldn’t be afforded the same courtesy.

Those who had supposedly played pivotal parts in Beech’s lengthy catalogue of abuse included the obligatory Sir Jim, the former Prime Minister Edward Heath, Normandy veteran Lord Bramall, ageing ex-MPs Harvey Proctor, Leon Brittan and Lord Janner, and the former heads of MI5 and MI6 respectively, Sir Michael Hanley and Sir Maurice Oldfield. Indeed, it was remarkable how many household names and prominent figures entered Beech’s childhood orbit; he was apparently never abused by nonentities. But I suppose the scenario is similar to that of the medium whose séances always seem to feature guest appearances from significant historical personalities rather than nondescript agricultural labourers. Beech’s presence at incidents of abuse, torture and murder undertaken by notable public servants was apparently down to his late stepfather, an army major who passed Beech around like the proverbial parcel amongst celebrity sex-offenders at clandestine military bases. Sounds very plausible, doesn’t it.

Most of us who were made aware of Beech’s allegations at the time found them pretty fantastical, to say the least; some even said so and were shot down as ‘paedo apologists’ – though to their tenacious credit, the majority of them tirelessly carried on saying out loud what many were thinking. That their sterling efforts could be so viciously dismissed for fear they might disrupt the narrative speaks volumes, however; such was the climate. After all, Titus Oates could only have provoked the panic he managed during the reign of Charles II because anti-Catholic paranoia was so rampant; and Carl Beech was fortunate to find himself in a culture that enabled his fantasies to expand into evermore audacious areas because it wasn’t just the usual conspiracy theory Icke cultists backing him up; people in positions of power were inexplicably prepared to believe too.

‘Believe’ was the buzzword that fuelled the false allegation industry, endorsed by the police and given the seal of approval by politicians. Keir Starmer in his DPP guise and Tom Watson in his backbench moral crusader mode are as responsible for the climate that facilitated Beech’s flights of fancy as anyone and both should be hung out to dry before either gets anywhere near the leadership of the Labour Party. Watson is at it again right now, this time honing in on anti-Semites in a further bid to bolster his eventual and inevitable bid for Jezza’s office; yet, even if there is an undeniable problem in Labour ranks re this issue, one can never entirely trust Bunter’s motives because of the appalling role he played in the Beech-inspired ‘Popish Plot’ concerning a nonexistent Westminster VIP Paedophile Ring. And it was down to Watson’s tedious persistence that the Metropolitan Police Force then stumbled onto the stage with fishing rods at the ready.

Operation Midland, the Met Inquisition that saw a posse of blundering Bobbies gate-crash the homes of the aged and the ailing in the full glare of the Scotland Yard PR spotlight not only besmirched and blemished the reputations of several public figures; it also caused undue distress to the families and loved ones of those they saw pass away with a stain on their names that was neither warranted nor vindicated. The rightly-notorious ‘credible and true’ response by the police to Carl Beech’s tall tales was a characteristic reaction by those of low IQs who were entrusted to enact the letter of the law as laid out by the far smarter and utterly despicable Starmer, whose hands are probably wrapped in tight black gloves to obscure the blood on them; his Met storm-troopers vos only obeying orders, of course. For two years. At a cost of £2 million to the taxpayer. Without a single arrest.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone so evidently obsessed with paedos in a manner reminiscent of anti-communist witch-finders in McCarthyite America (who couldn’t look under their beds without finding a Red), Carl Beech is himself a paedophile; he was found guilty earlier this year of possessing hundreds of indecent images. Fancy that. And this is someone who at one time used to visit schools on behalf of the NSPCC to lecture kiddies on how to recognise a fiddler; maybe he just walked into the classroom, pointed to himself, and then walked out. Well, he won’t be an ill-advised ambassador for the charity again. As of today, Beech is a convicted fraudster as well as a paedophile, having been found guilty of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud following a 10-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court. Northumbria may have made the loathsome Vera Baird its Crime Commissioner, but its police force has at least redeemed the county’s reputation with this thorough investigation into a man who had outfoxed and fooled its cousins in the capital.

The law finally caught up with Carl Beech when he was arrested on the run in Sweden last year, and the verdict in Newcastle was a long time coming; but the damage done by the former NHS manager and school governor will take far longer to repair than it’ll take him to serve the sentence he’ll receive for his crimes. And, lest we forget, this repulsive character is merely the tip of an almighty iceberg, the vast body of which remains submerged with a thousand tragic tales to tell – tales of fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, wives, daughters, sisters and mothers, the real victims of this insidious cancer on contemporary society.

© The Editor

MUD, MUD, INGLORIOUS MUD

The damage that was done is a very modern kind of damage in that it will never go away now; it can’t when so many have a permanent foot in the parallel universe of cyberspace, where rumours and conspiracy theories are immortal. That Great British bastion of ineptitude, the Metropolitan Police Force (let’s not be nice to them by using their preferred ‘Service’ suffix), has suffered a humiliating admission of failure by paying out an estimated £100,000 in compensation to Lord Bramall and the family of the late Leon Brittan. It’s a small portion of the £2.5 million Operation Midland actually cost. The former head of the British Army is in his 90s now, but at least he has lived to see the Met pay towards his legal fees; the former Home Secretary died with false allegations hovering over his coffin.

Normandy veteran Bramall suffered the indignity of a police raid on his home in 2014, executed by 20 officers exhibiting the tact and sensitivity for which the Met is renowned; and whilst Bramall was last year the ‘beneficiary’ of a public apology from then-Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, his wife died before his name was cleared – another blameless victim of a witch-hunt going to her grave bereft of justice. The third target of the accusations emanating from the odious fantasist still only known as ‘Nick’ was the ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor; Proctor may be financially ruined from refusing to accept compensation accompanied by a gagging order, but he has to be admired for his tenacious determination to clear his name by not shying away from speaking out; his own legal battle against the Met is ongoing.

The shameful sham of Operation Midland, which was activated on the strength of one disturbed individual’s tall tales of Westminster VIP paedophile rings in the 70s and 80s, was the discredited fishing party promoted as ‘credible and true’ during its lifetime. That the accused were all public figures of relatively respectable reputations (certainly in the area under the seedy spotlight) added spice to the tabloid mix, but it was hardly unique at the moment of its inception. There are plenty out there who never qualified as public figures, men whose lives are in tatters thanks to similar accusations that haven’t received the damning critiques Midland inspired from broadsheet columnists, ones that contributed towards its merciful demise.

‘Nick’ is now being investigated for perverting the course of justice, though the willingness of the Met to give credence to his allegations in the first place continues to ask questions of their own credibility. The stealthy politicisation of the police across the country in recent years is naturally more prominent when it comes to the clout of the force policing the capital, despite the eagerness of some provincial forces to give the Met a run for its money; but the way in which the Met publicised the Gospel according to ‘Nick’, as though any doubts surrounding his allegations simply didn’t exist, was a glaring example of how our law enforcers were prepared to overlook inconsistencies in his stories as long as those stories fitted the post-Savile narrative, which they did.

‘Nick’ was portrayed as a classic Victim when there was an abundance of them being given airtime they neither warranted nor deserved without thorough investigation beforehand. The false allegations that wrecked the career of silent movie star Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle almost a century ago remain a stain on his name, so it doesn’t require much foresight to reckon anyone researching the lives and careers of Bramall, Brittan and Proctor a hundred years from now will probably be directed towards ‘child sex abuse allegations’, whichever medium they’ll be using by then.

In the here and now, the fact the Met eventually publicly accepted there were no grounds for suspicion re the aforementioned trio may bring a crumb of comfort to those still alive, but online it’s a different matter altogether. Some of the more fanciful rumours surrounding deceased public figures that have never even reached the Operation Midland level now have a vintage of around a decade, and the number of cyber ghouls desperate to believe the worst of these stories, no matter how ludicrous, hasn’t diminished. No compensation pay-out, however large, can change the sticky constitution of online mud.


EX-DIRECTORY

Poor old JR Hartley would probably be beside himself. It was announced yesterday that the Yellow Pages will become a solely online service as of January 2019; the final print edition will be delivered to doorsteps in Brighton that very month, coincidentally the same town to first receive the publication way back in 1966. It now follows the Thomson Local to the print graveyard, which disappeared from doorsteps in 2013.

Although the very first UK phone directory appeared as far back as 1880, it only contained residential addresses lucky enough to possess one of the newfangled communication devices – all 248 of them; to discover the telephone number, one had to call the operator. Remarkably, it took almost ninety years before businesses began to be included in the annual GPO book; to distinguish commercial listings from private ones, the new classified section that debuted in the Brighton edition of 1966 had its pages coloured yellow. In 1973, the yellow section arrived as a nationwide separate publication in its own right, and thus an essential addition to the phone-owning British household was born, along with a TV jingle advising viewers to let their fingers do the walking.

If its arrival might appear a tad belated, it’s worth remembering how many homes were still without a telephone in 1973 – giving a neighbour’s number to a relative for emergencies was a common practice at the time; the fact it could take the GPO as long as six months to install one when it could do so due to its absolute monopoly of the industry also played its part. As objects, telephone directories (which even used to be fixtures of phone boxes until vandalism curtailed their presence) had distinctive designs; at one time, the GPO model would feature a pencil drawing of a landmark building relevant to the locality on its cover, eventually replaced by photographs when the publication acquired a glossy facelift in the 80s.

In strictly landline days, the Yellow Pages and traditional telephone directory could appear to be both the most boring books ever to cross the household threshold or an invaluable fountain of information that can now be located with a few cursory clicks. And that’s undoubtedly the reason why the print edition of the Yellow Pages is poised to vanish for good. The 1980s was the last real hurrah for the old-school directories, with the Thomson Local (and its memorable black cat symbol) joining the other two freebies on the eve of deregulation. But in the same way the rapidly ubiquitous status of the mobile rendered the old-fashioned public call box redundant, the telephone directories were gradually usurped by the online search.

Although the now-shrunken Yellow Pages has continued to mysteriously land on the doorstep as though deposited there by Father Christmas, I confess the last few editions I’ve received remain wrapped in the cellophane they were delivered in. Like that sorry tin of Bird’s Custard Powder at the back of the kitchen cupboard, one always feels it’s worth having them in the house, even if they serve no purpose these days other than to collect dust. And that’s all they’ll do from now onwards.

© The Editor

WHITEWASH AND GO

Hold page 17! Get through coverage of the Budget and you might find the odd reference to the fact that a trio of Scotland Yard officers in the vanguard of the infamous Operation Midland have all been cleared over their handling of the investigation into a nonexistent ‘VIP Paedophile Ring’ seen in visions by a deluded (though mysteriously unprosecuted) fantasist whom we must still refer to as ‘Nick’. Well, fancy that! That august body the Independent Police Complaints Commission has come to an utterly unexpected conclusion. Who could have seen that coming, eh?

Twelve months on from the closure of Operation Midland without a single arrest, charge or conviction, this breathtaking squandering of taxpayers’ money achieved nothing other than ruining both the reputations and financial security of those targeted by a bunch of blundering Bobbies whose instructions from on-high to believe the accuser at all costs resulted in the most high-profile case of what has become standard police practice. So standard, in fact, that the current series of hit ITV drama ‘Broadchurch’ apparently promotes this in-built belief that the accused is guilty and the accuser is innocent long before such an investigation even gets anywhere near a courtroom.

The three who were surprisingly exonerated by the IPCC included Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, the dolt who preempted any possibility of a fair trial should it have come to that by declaring the accusations of ‘Nick’ were ‘credible and true’. DS McDonald evidently believes his role is not much different from that of Judge Dredd, futuristic super-cop who acts as judge, jury and executioner; and his belief has not been trashed by this judgement. Although the IPCC hearing, chaired by retired judge Sir Richard Henriques, identified 43 serious failings in the Operation Midland investigation – including stating the bleedin’ obvious, that too much faith had been placed in the word of ‘Nick’ – it still declared the operation was ‘extensive and carried out diligently’.

Five Met officers were referred to the IPCC, yet the clearing of three of them suggests the other two haven’t got much to worry about. ‘There is no evidence to indicate bad faith, malice or dishonesty’, says the report, adding ‘and no indication any of the officers may have behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings’. One other area that gave the IPCC cause for concern was in regards to the detectives involved failing to present all relevant information to the district judge who gave the green light to the search warrants enabling them to kick down the doors of those named by ‘Nick’. That three of those whose homes were searched were named and shamed by the media during the investigation is apparently not thought shameful in itself.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse was also cleared of his part in a separate investigation into the involvement of the dying Leon Brittan in the same Paedo Ring, so that draws a line under a parallel farce. Even if the conclusions of the IPCC were utterly predictable and understandably regarded as a whitewash by those who suffered at the hands of the investigation (such as ex-MP Harvey Proctor), in a way one cannot hold the investigating officers wholly responsible for the disaster that was Operation Midland if the instructions they received vindicated the approach they took.

The ‘maverick cop’, that staple of British TV police dramas from Barlow in ‘Z-Cars’ and ‘Softly Softly’ through to Regan in ‘The Sweeney’ and Tennyson in ‘Prime Suspect’, no longer exists in the real world. If the police force in this country is inherently bent, it’s the natural outcome of the way in which that force is organised from the top on down rather than a Gene Hunt-style rogue cop making up his own rules. The politicised changes in procedure that declare an accused man (and, let’s face it, they’re basically always men) is guilty till proven innocent means the police have already been trained into making their minds up before an investigation even begins. Should it really come as a great surprise that the likes of Harvey Proctor are engulfed in smoke that couldn’t exist without any initial fire in the public perception when the rules have been rewritten to such a damaging degree where ancient British Law is concerned?

I’ll be perfectly honest with you. I’m absolutely bloody sick of this subject and part of me resents the fact I feel compelled to pen yet another post on it when so many others online put the work in and do it a hell of a lot better as a consequence. But it continues to represent so much of what has gone wrong with this country over the last fifteen-twenty years that any blog pertaining to deal with the great issues of the day cannot ignore it, however hard the temptation to do so truly is.

The fact is that the small army of bloggers and tweeters who follow the topic with a dedication that is admirable are in the minority. Most people don’t even give it much of a thought unless they themselves are on the receiving end of a false allegation and then a door is opened to them that had previously been barely ajar. And these are the people that are denied the platform to air their grievances that Harvey Proctor or Paul Gambaccini can call upon – the genuine silent majority who suffer the most when the finger of suspicion is aimed at them and they are at the mercy of a police force that has been politically remodelled to fit an agenda the police force was not created for. Peel must be turning in his grave.

© The Editor

THE FISHING PARTY

ted-heathIt’s probably true to say Ted Heath was his own worst enemy. Britain’s Prime Minister from June 1970 to February 1974 was famed for his cold, brusque aloofness in company, ignoring VIPs, dignitaries and his own MPs at social functions and earning a reputation as a rather pompous and grumpy old so-and-so that won him few friends and cost him support amongst his peers when he needed it. Yet he himself couldn’t understand why people found it so hard to warm to him; he always saw everyone else as the problem. He came across as uncomfortable, stiff-necked and ill-at-ease when PM both on television and when speaking in public, a poor communicator struggling to get his message across to the electorate. With the possible exception of Gordon Brown, he remains on paper perhaps the most unsuited man for the job in the post-war era, an unlikely candidate for Downing Street if ever there was one.

Yet, put a baton in his hand and stick him in front of an orchestra or sit him down at a grand piano, and he was in his element. A diffident and difficult man whose shyness was often perceived as straightforward rudeness, Heath relaxed when with those who shared his passions. Music had been the main one from day one, though later in life he applied himself to mastering the art of sailing and this became his other great love. The determination he displayed when it came to learning the latter mirrored his political ambitions. Despite his evident limitations for public office, he wouldn’t be swayed and the work he put in was eventually rewarded when he won the contest to succeed Sir Alec Douglas Home as Tory leader in 1965. Five years later he scored a shock win over Labour PM Harold Wilson, a man who had repeatedly dismissed Heath as a lightweight up until polling day in 1970.

We’re so used to the nauseating ‘family shots’ of Prime Minister with spouse and children these days that it seems even more bizarre now to have had a bachelor at No.10 forty-five years ago, let alone one who sought solace of an evening by playing the piano and then took a couple of weeks off from running the country to compete in, and win, a prestigious yachting competition. Heath was certainly his own man, refusing to enter into a marriage solely for PR reasons and brushing off predictable rumours he was an old poof (to use the parlance of the time). Heath became PM just three years after the decriminalisation of homosexuality, though the accusation remained the default insult to aim at the unmarried man; those who were genuinely homosexual during that era tended to marry, such as Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, as a means of deflecting accusations, though Heath had no idea how to interact with women in a romantic manner and didn’t bother trying just for the sake of his public image.

After innumerable difficulties with bolshie unions and Northern Ireland, as well as antagonism over his pushing of Britain to join the Common Market, the Three Day Week was the final straw for the electorate. After losing two General Elections in 1974 and surrendering No.10 to his nemesis Harold Wilson, Heath’s days were numbered. When his unpopularity in his own party gifted Margaret Thatcher the kind of support required to topple Heath as leader in 1975, Heath couldn’t fathom why it had happened and for a good year or so was convinced he could regain his position; when Thatcher won the General Election in 1979, her decision not to award a Cabinet post to her still-active predecessor provoked one of the great public sulks in British political history, one that didn’t end until Thatcher herself was toppled in 1990.

During half-a-century as a serving MP, Edward Heath made many enemies and wasn’t prepared to compromise in order to court popularity. His relatively humble origins for a Conservative leader provoked enmity from the old patrician Tories, who looked down on him as a social inferior, and his obstinacy as PM where the press and public were concerned lingered long after he had left Downing Street. Heath wouldn’t play the game and that kind of attitude inspired grudges that have lasted, even more than a decade since his death. Naming and shaming him as a closet gay, though there was no evidence to back up such a claim other than he never married, is no longer a sufficient weapon in our sexually enlightened day and age, so the default insult now is paedophile, a word that embodies all the revulsion once reserved for ‘queer’.

The last 16 months has seen 21 presumably thumb-twiddling officers of Wiltshire Police pack their rods for a fishing expedition known as Operation Conifer, a sort-of retarded country cousin of the Met’s Operation Midland, in response to unsubstantiated accusations against the deceased PM, and have so far spent £700,000 casting their nets in the vain hope of salvaging confidence in the country’s most discredited public service. Heath’s name had already been pulled out of the fantasist’s hat worn by ‘Nick’, the anonymous accuser of half-a-dozen VIPs and their alleged part in the Westminster Paedo Ring that never was, and Wiltshire Police took it upon themselves to pursue additional ‘credible and true’ accusations even when Operation Midland was rightly recognised as the criminal waste of public money and ruination of reputations it was all along.

This week Operation Conifer was even reduced to ‘investigating’ (and I use that term loosely) the anti-Common Market incident in 1972, when a protestor threw ink at Heath as he arrived to sign on the dotted line that would enshrine Britain’s membership of the EEC. What the hell that has to do with ‘paedophilia’ is nothing other than the painful sound of a barrel’s bottom being desperately scraped. After last week’s damning report into Midland, the continuation of Conifer merely confirms the priorities of the police as a time-travelling hit squad whose interest in solving twenty-first century crimes is secondary to rooting around the dirty laundry of the dead and dying on the hearsay of mentally demented finger-pointers fresh out of therapy.

It’s no surprise they should single out Heath in a last pathetic throw of the dice. His defiant oddness in Prime Ministerial terms was a gift for them, but each victim of the witch-hunt has been an individual eccentric and square peg, characteristics alien to the consensus of the day. Operation Midland has now been acknowledged as an outrage by the media, yet few have dared to allocate the same condemnation to Operation Yewtree, the granddaddy of them all, and a project responsible for the rotting in gaol of more than one household name as well as the soiled gravestones of many more. Makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it? No, me neither.

© The Editor