ALAS SMITH AND STEEL

When the BBC aired ‘A Very English Scandal’, its entertaining Russell T Davies-penned drama about the Jeremy Thorpe/Norman Scott affair a couple of years back, I remember explaining to a friend how the general public of the time were reluctant to believe the allegations against the Liberal leader due to him being a popular politician. I compared him to Charles Kennedy in that he was representative of an increasingly rare breed, i.e. a prominent Parliamentarian the majority of the electorate didn’t actually hate. I cited the 1975 Oxford Union Debate on the EEC Referendum as an example of Thorpe’s considerable oratorical skills; sharing the stage with plodding old Heath, as well as a stuttering Barbara Castle and a flustered Peter Shore, Thorpe shines as an eloquent and witty speaker; it’s a rare opportunity for TV viewers to see him at the height of his powers, for the Commons wasn’t televised in 1975; by the time it was, Thorpe had already left the building – in disgrace.

I recall my mother’s response to the sinister stories encircling the most high profile Liberal leader since Lloyd George in 1976 – ‘Poor Jeremy Thorpe,’ she declared whilst ironing. ‘All these horrible people spreading nasty lies about him.’ I suspect my mum’s response to the tabloid frenzy when the Fleet Street levee broke wasn’t an isolated one. It’s always far easier to believe scurrilous rumours concerning the private lives of those who divide opinion – Jimmy Savile, for example – than to accept those who elicit admiration might have feet of clay. Of course, Thorpe’s desperate attempts to cover his homosexual tracks caught up with him in the end and demonstrated the extremes public figures were then prepared to go to in order to obscure proclivities that are today worn as an identity-defining sandwich board. But it left a political party that just two years before had been within the grasp of a coalition administration paddle-free and heading towards an especially unpleasant creek.

And then David Steel stepped forward. Widely respected for his activities in the Anti-Apartheid Movement as well as his pivotal role in securing the legalisation of abortion in 1967, the MP for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles was elected full-time Liberal leader in July 1976. In less than a year, he had led his party into a working arrangement with the Labour Party, the so-called ‘Lib-Lab Pact’. Faced with a motion of no confidence from Margaret Thatcher’s Tories, PM Jim Callaghan approached the Liberals for support; an agreement was reached whereby the Liberals would vote with the Labour Government as long as Callaghan accepted a handful of Liberal policies. But it was a long way from being a genuine coalition, and this short-lived alliance expired in September 1978, when Callaghan was expected to call a General Election he fatally postponed until spring 1979.

The Liberal Party David Steel inherited in 1976 included amongst its 14 elected representatives perhaps its two most notable members in the popular imagination, Clement Freud and Cyril Smith. The former was a celebrated wit via his broadcasting career and the latter was primarily known for being immensely fat at a time when obesity was a rarity in Britain. The reputations of both were subjected to characteristically twenty-first century revisionism in the wake of their deaths in 2009 and 2010 respectively, though Smith had been dogged by unsavoury rumours for years.

Picking up on circulating stories in 1979, ‘Private Eye’ had been at the forefront of exposing Smith’s inappropriate behaviour in the company of young boys during his time as a Rochdale Labour councillor and governor of an all-male children’s home in the 1960s; but despite these allegations being investigated by Lancashire police a full decade before ‘Private Eye’ printed them and then Smith being interviewed in the early 1980s, no action was taken against him. Smith defected to the Liberal Party relatively late in his public life and wasn’t elected to Westminster until a 1972 by-election, by which time the allegations against him had already received police scrutiny. The fact that he hadn’t been charged or ended up in court implied he was innocent and there was no palpable reason for Smith not to be appointed Liberal Chief Whip; a party with such a small representation in Parliament needed larger-than-life figures to maintain a high profile, and the 29-stone Smith certainly fitted the bill.

In response to ongoing rumours during Cyril Smith’s lifetime, many claimed Smith’s alleged crimes constituted no more than standard (if cruel) practice in the more severe educational and ‘correctional’ establishments of the immediate post-war period – which is, to an extent, true. ‘All he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms’ was the alleged response from David Steel’s Press Office in response to the ‘Private Eye’ exposé. Besides, Steel had more pressing political issues to concern him, such as the electoral alliance of the SDP and Liberal Party from 1983. Steel’s relationship with the SDP leader David Owen was particularly fractured during the General Election of 1987, with the former ‘baby of the House’ memorably portrayed as an elfin-like imp permanently perched on Owen’s shoulder. Despite the alliance’s poor showing in 1987, a proper merger between the two parties was proposed and Steel was determined a single leader was the better option; he won the vote when the Liberal Democrats came into being in 1988.

Despite a coalition with Tony Blair’s Labour Party being discussed in the run-up to the 1997 General Election, the landslide victory Labour enjoyed put paid to the hopes of Steel’s Lib Dem successor Paddy Ashdown of a place for the party in government; but Steel himself stood down as an MP at that very Election and as well as undergoing the traditional promotion to the Lords, he also became an MSP in 1999, inaugurated as the Scottish Parliament’s first Presiding Officer that same year. He remained an active figure in British politics despite his retirement from the Commons and was a respected elder statesman whose career in public life had certainly spanned an eventful era.

The instigation of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, inspired in part by the hysterical accusations of Tom Watson re the imaginary ‘VIP Paedophile Ring’ at Westminster, revived the old allegations against Cyril Smith; and before the conviction of Carl Beech confirmed everything most of us knew about that serial liar, Beech’s lurid fantasies – given legitimacy by Bunter’s headline-grabbing promotion and by a police force desperate to make amends for presumed past failings – pushed David Steel’s ambivalent attitude towards Cyril Smith under the spotlight again. Yesterday, Steel quit both his party and the House of Lords, citing his weariness with certain colleagues who were keen to see the back of him. The myth of the Westminster Paedo Ring has finally been officially dispelled, but mud sticks.

When any inquiry stretches its remit so far back in time, one has to take the laws of the land at that time into account. Talk of MPs and ‘rent boys’ should come with a reminder that the homosexual age of consent was only brought into line with the heterosexual one as recent as 2000; therefore, any gay exchange in which one party was under 21 (18 from 1994) meant the other half (if over 21) was eligible for prosecution and technically regarded as a paedophile. On paper, the same laws that had convicted Oscar Wilde a century before could still be applied up until the Millennium. Conspiracies and cover-ups are not dismissed by the findings of the IICSA, but just as dead men are beyond prosecution, the living should not have to answer for the alleged offences of the dead. When a lawyer from that most mendacious of ambulance-chasers, Slater & Gordon, welcomes the resignation of David Steel, you know it’s hardly worthy of celebration.

© The Editor

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.

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© The Editor

HOUSE OF GLASS

So, Bunter’s post as Jezza’s deputy is looking increasingly perilous courtesy of the Momentum faction, is it? Perhaps Karma should be held responsible – not so much instant as slow-burning. Regardless of the motivation behind this move, Tom Watson has had it coming for a long time, not for his opportunistic, Lib Dem-esque stance on Brexit and his shameless positioning of himself as an eventual leadership challenger; but for the disgraceful part he played in the Carl Beech saga. Indeed, who can forget his grandstanding from the backbenches as he sought to make a name for himself at the expense of innocents who were mere obstacles to his ambition?

Recalling Watson’s hysterical performance in promoting a Westminster paedo network that never was, I can’t help but wonder how many vigilantes he inspired into action by legitimising their obsession. I never cease to be suspicious of those who feel the need to advertise a particular virtue to the point whereby one wonders why they’re making such a song and dance about it. Could it be they have something to hide? After all, many’s the time the hard-drive of a self-appointed ‘paedo-hunter’ turns out to be crammed with enough evidence to expose them as being no better than those they purport to be saving our children from. A psychiatrist would no doubt surmise they were suppressing shame over their own repugnant leanings by projecting them onto another individual and thus somehow subconsciously absolving themselves of their wicked thoughts. Which brings us nicely to the previously-squeaky clean apostle of PC politics, Justin Trudeau.

Before we go any further, I must stress I’m not insinuating Canada’s Prime Minister is a closet paedo; no, I am of course referring to the emergence of photographs and videos revealing that a man tirelessly sold as a liberal alternative to the President across the border at one time had something of a party penchant for ‘blacking-up’. Someone like Trudeau Jr, who has made a career out of spouting cringe-inducing Woke sound-bites – once famously using the term ‘people-kind’ (presumably because to say ‘mankind’ was misogynistic) – suddenly being outed as once having had such an outrageous hobby is probably far worse than being found guilty of possessing indecent images. The images that have forced him into a humiliating confession of past misdemeanours are about as indecent as it gets for someone who has done his best to signal every virtue on the 21st century checklist.

With just a month till Canadians go to the polls, Trudeau is struggling to justify the revelations that initially emerged when Time magazine excavated a photograph of him blacked-up (complete with turban) when dressed as Aladdin in 2001. Trudeau wasn’t some frat-boy adolescent prankster at the time, either; he was a 29-year-old teacher, presumably old enough to know better. Evidence of three separate instances of Trudeau in full boot-polish cosmetics are now doing the rounds and Trudeau himself admits he can’t recall how many times he played the comedy ‘Sambo’. Surely such a shameful confession is enough to unleash the familiar hounds to bring down this blatant racist, no?

Strangely, however – as has already been mentioned on Twitter – the dependable David Lammy is nowhere to be seen. Labour’s resident Racism-Finder General is usually first out of the blocks when it comes to pointing the accusatory finger, yet the man who sees race-hate in everything has curiously failed to comment on the subject via social media. But he’s not alone in his mysterious reluctance to condemn the Canadian PM. One of the genuine pleasures when a scandal of this nature breaks is observing how the ideological allies of the accused squirm in their seats and make excuses.

Nesrine Malik, Guardian scribe and ‘Diversity’ darling of London’s chattering classes, excused Trudeau’s actions on account of the fact he was blacking-up nearly 20 years ago, when the act was apparently acceptable. So, unlike allegations of historical sex crimes, there’s a statute of limitations on blacking-up? According to Malik, it was ‘a clumsy, childish, slightly juvenile way of blacking-up’ – Trudeau was 29, remember. ‘If he positions his apology well and contextualises it,’ she said, ‘I think he can dig himself out.’ Malik added – ‘The discourse around blacking-up has only become mainstream quite recently.’ So, that would explain the endless repeats of ‘The Black & White Minstrel Show’ we had to endure for decades after the series was axed in 1978, then. I just wonder how different the reaction of Malik and the rest would have been had the world leader exposed as a closet blackface 20-odd years ago been a certain Donald?

Nesrine Malik also said – ‘There’s two ways that people black-up; one is a deliberate racist way.’ I never realised there was a right way and a wrong way to black-up, but doesn’t such a claim go to the heart of Woke culture, a philosophy built on endlessly shifting sands to suit the fair-weather agenda set by its advocates, and one prone to moving the goalposts depending on the accused. Do we still have to suppress a snigger when Peter Sellers or Spike Milligan adopt comedy Indian accents in the wake of the Trudeau revelations or can we laugh again? Please let us know, for it’s beginning to seem that if there are any standards at all, they’re seeing double more than an alcoholic on his thirteenth whisky.

Don’t worry – the Woke Star Chamber will always let us know what they have decided is now racist, sexist and homophobic, anyway, just so we know what we have to feel guilty about today; but it seems good old Mr Trudeau is being let off with a caution, largely due to his sterling contributions to the cause that some ancient error committed at a time when we were all openly bigoted won’t adversely affect. Well, come on, it was 2001, after all – way back in the Dark Ages when we too busy splitting our sides at ‘Love Thy Neighbour’, ‘Mind Your Language’ and ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ whilst singing along to Al Jolson and spreading Robertson’s Marmalade on our toast to know we were doing wrong. Those were different days, man.

Yes, Justin Trudeau has been publicly revealed as a bit of an arse; but most of us had already worked that out, and we didn’t need an old image of him blacked-up to come to that conclusion. Perhaps if he hadn’t been so tediously relentless in his ongoing attempts to promote himself as the ultimate, self-flagellating apologist for his wealthy white privilege, he could’ve been cut some slack. Perhaps if he hadn’t signalled his virtue with such holier-than-thou gusto, this storm-in-a-teacup would be recognised as such. But the fact the guilty party is someone who has worn his PC credentials as a T-shirt ever since he ascended to office makes it a big deal. And hilarious.

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© 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

OH, WHAT A LOVELY WAR!

For the Tories, one could opt for 1945, 1966 or 1974 – and especially that 13-year period from 1997-2010 when a succession of pitiful team captains were dispatched to the crease to chase an impossible target. For Labour, the options are myriad: 1959, 1970, 1979, 1983 etc….all the way up to 2015. Yes, the two political parties that have dictated the destiny of the nation over the last century have each known their fallow periods; the scales have risen and fallen in favour of one or the other throughout the past 100 years, sometimes the victor dependent on alliances with third parties, sometimes going it alone with the cushion of a landslide – though one could argue only Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher really took advantage of the numbers and went for it.

What makes the here and now so strangely incompatible with the manual is that the traditional narrative of one party soaring in strength whilst the other struggles in shambolic disarray isn’t happening. Instead, the twin titans that have bestrode the British political landscape for longer than any of us has been alive are crammed into the one canoe, zooming up shit creek, having misplaced the proverbial paddle. It’s quite a spectacle. We’re used to the usual internal evisceration that occurs in the wake of a party crashing at the ballot-box; it generally takes half-a-decade before the right man or woman emerges to put the house in order and make the losers electable again; by the time this happens, the cracks that the party in office papered-over with victory are beginning to be exposed to the light, and defeat awaits before the game of pass-the-parcel resumes. That’s what we’re used to.

To see both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party going through their crises in-synch is bizarre because it’s so unprecedented. The Tories’ travails stretch back further than Brexit – Cameron’s Blaire-lite approach to social issues (usually involving the word ‘gay’) didn’t play well with the retired admirals and blue-rinsed battleaxes out in the Shires – but any grumblings were subdued by the sight of ‘Red’ Ed sitting on the opposition benches. The spectre of Europe, however – the bad smell that just won’t leave the golf-club – was bound to resurface as an open fire for dissidents to cluster around, and Dave appeased them with a bright idea largely devised to stem the flow in the direction of UKIP. It not only cost Cameron his job; it may well yet obliterate his party.

As for Labour, the lurch to the left that came with Corbyn and his Marxist groupies was accompanied by a successful recruitment drive that his acolytes were fond of quoting whenever Jezza’s unpopularity beyond the student debating society was mentioned. The problem with marketing Jeremy Corbyn as a fashion accessory was that fashion has a habit of dating quickly, and it seems Jezza-mania is already ‘so last year’ – or, to be more accurate, the year before. It probably peaked with the defeat that was almost sold as a victory in the 2017 General Election; the party performed far better than the polls suggested, but not good enough.

For a career backbencher like Corbyn, opposition is his comfort zone; it was even when Labour were in power, as his voting record testifies; and he has constantly struggled to balance the entrenched backbench mindset with the necessary compromise of leadership. When the impetus appeared to be with Remain during the 2016 Referendum campaign, Jezza’s invisibility underlined his difficulty in marrying his strong anti-Brussels stance to the pro-EU sentiments of his disciples. Stick with the latter and No.10 could beckon; but doing so would be a betrayal of the principles studied at the feet of that late, great guru and Leave sage Tony Benn.

This perennial conflict has arisen once again as the Brexit saga has grown more polarising over the past twelve months, and the humiliating ineptitude of Labour to capitalise on the Tories’ civil war by failing to shoot ahead in the polls again suggests we’ve passed peak Jezza-mania. The rapacious appetite for power so shamelessly embodied in the loathsome person of Tom Watson has focused on the Remain cause as a means of taking back control – but from whom? The Lib Dems? That’s who Labour’s U-turn on backing a second referendum has been really prompted by, not the Government.

Anti-Semitism seems to be to Labour what Europe is to the Tories, albeit something that’s arguably even more difficult to deal with considering the inability of so many in the party to distinguish between the Jewish people and the Jewish State. In this respect, Europe for Labour could be viewed as a convenient smokescreen that also enables the likes of Watson, Starmer and Thornberry to exploit the issue as the best way to reconnect with the electorate when the messiah appears incapable of progressing beyond his core fan-base. The main drawback to this master-plan – endorsed by the unions (did their potentate McCluskey even sanction a ballot?) – is that it makes the same mistake as that opportunistic, clueless chameleon Umunna in assuming just because Londoners with the loudest voices wave the EU flag, they somehow represent the entire electorate.

How, one wonders, can Labour ever reconcile their metropolitan mindset with those loyal provincial supporters whose patience has been so severely tested over the last three years by allowing Bunter to hog the headlines and lead the party towards oblivion even quicker than the man whose job he’s clearly after? The delusional belief of Labour’s centrists that there is a vast pool of floating voters just waiting for the chance to flock around their wing of the party was embarrassingly exposed as a fallacy when that egotistical coalition of Labour and Tory defectors (what were they called again?) were utterly crushed in the European Elections. At a moment when Labour needs all the friends it can get as the Tories are imploding before our very eyes, the party is losing those whose loyalty saw Labour through many a lean decade. The Government must be watching events on the other side of the House barely able to believe their good fortune.

Of course, Brexit is a symptom of so much more, so much remaining unaddressed and unattended to by either party as each exhibits its own self-absorbed conceit at the expense of a people who have had enough. June 23 2016 was a storm long time coming, but neither party prepared by bringing a brolly. And they’re still stocking-up on sunscreen rather than purchasing parkas.

© The Editor