Again – yet again – the memorable sketch from ‘Not The Nine O’Clock News’ springs to mind. Rowan Atkinson and Mel Smith play MPs from opposite sides of the House, engaging in a lively debate chaired by Pamela Stephenson; as their argument reaches fever pitch, Rowan Atkinson keels over and dies of a heart attack. Mel Smith abruptly switches his vitriolic critique of his opponent’s stance midsentence and ends it by paying tribute to a Great Parliamentarian. We’ve seen it one more time today as the death was announced of Labour MP Carl Sargeant, a man who was the Welsh Government’s Secretary for Communities and Children until he was sacked last Friday. The reason for his dismissal was related to another allegation of the kind Westminster has been awash with over the past seven days.
It appears Mr Sargeant’s death was by his own hand, which is always a painfully sad way to end a life; but it was really only a matter of time before one of the politicians falling under the finger of suspicion took this route out of it. The kind of gushing tributes being paid to Carl Sargeant in the wake of his apparent suicide probably didn’t accompany his dismissal and party membership suspension just a few days ago because, as we all know, a man is guilty till proven innocent in ‘the Court of Public Opinion’, that non-Judicial body vigorously endorsed by every MP confident their own conduct was free from the allegations that have plagued other public bodies since society spinelessly kowtowed to the ‘I believe her’ mindset.
The Crown Courts of Britain assemble for business each Monday morning with disparate members of the public pulled out of the Jury Service tombola having to put their lives and livelihoods on ice for a fortnight. Whilst the barristers and judges casually stroll into the hallowed environs smug in the knowledge they won’t be lumbered with the extortionate parking fees that the potential jurors have to endure if they ignore the condescending advice to use that useless means of getting from A to B known as public transport, the system grinds on at a snail’s pace as people without a ‘Right Honourable’ prefix to their names face the music.
These insignificant plebs have been enduring the allegations Westminster residents are now suddenly confronted by for the last half-decade or so; their pariah status is emphasised by the warnings dished out to the jurors that craving a cigarette break outdoors might entail sharing a smoking space with ‘criminals’ – the status afforded the accused before their trial has even been graced with a verdict. Of course, the police and the CPS have no politicised agenda at all, and the accused wouldn’t even be there if smoke hadn’t been sighted before their fire began. Anyone fortunate enough never to have fallen foul of the boys-in-blue nail varnish has absolute faith in their integrity, naturally, and thus a negative opinion of the individual is formed even before the swearing-in ceremony.
Despite the Expenses’ Scandal of less than a full decade ago, the elected gravy train freeloaders have continued to recline in their exalted cocoons, convinced their lifestyle choice has rendered them immune from the curse of the false allegation or the taint of an accusation imbued with the power to end a career. How crushing it must be to finally realise they actually have no immunity from a moral crusade that has laid waste to hundreds of less important lives across the country, not to mention showbiz veterans whose advanced years and kitsch celebrity means they don’t matter.
Chris Evans and his ginger willy aside, there are no further entertainment icons to pursue, and dead public servants have had their graves so saturated with piss that even their pursuers are now seeking a golden handshake – see Wiltshire Constabulary’s Mike Veale. Where else to go to feed the insatiable appetites of Alison Saunders and Vera Baird? Why, Westminster, of course – not forgetting the poor relations of Cardiff and Edinburgh.
It was fine when a dying has-been like Leon Brittan was being shaken out of slumber on his deathbed or a WWII hero like Lord Bramall was having his house turned over on the instructions of a despicable Met chief ironically poised to replace him in the Lords – raised voices were few and far between then. But now we are supposed to be outraged that those who facilitated a climate wherein such events could take place are being bitten by the monster they approved the creation of. Well, sorry for the inconvenience, Westminster 2017; but it serves you right.
Yes, it’s sad that a man has to take his own life in the wake of allegations that have yet to be proven; but how many other lives have been taken in similar circumstances – ones that were denied the spotlight Carl Sargeant’s suicide has received today? And how many nauseatingly hypocritical tributes were paid to those lives when they were lost? Not many, I suspect. I’m afraid the chickens are coming home to roost now, and it’s increasingly hard to summon-up sympathy for the highest profile victims of a witch-hunt that the latest victims of gave the seal of approval to in the belief it would never touch them.
© The Editor