In the aftermath of Malaysian Airways flight MH17, I found it curious that a man from Putin's past, Alexander Litvinenko, resurfaces. Obviously, Litvinenko can't resurface because he's dead, killed, we are led to believe, by the introduction of radioactive Polonium into his system. So who was Litvinenko?
We are told that he was a KGB officer who claimed that Boris Berezovsky ( a Russian oligarch) was assassinated on the orders of senior KGB officers. Obviously this wasn't a good carrier move and, after being arrested a couple of times, tried and acquitted, Litvinenko came to London where he remained publicly critical of what might be termed the Putin regime. And then, out of the blue, he went to Tescos, bought some radioactive polonium, cooked a stew with it and died. His widow claimed that he was poisoned by the KGB and the UK authorities pointed the finger at Andrey Lugovoy (a Russian security agent) but no action was taken because the Russian authorities refused to extradite Lugovoy.
End of story, you might expect but no, not quite. In the aftermath of the downing of MH17, attention is again focussed on Putin's expansionist ambitions, particularly in the Ukraine where it is widely believed that Russian service personnel are supporting the separatists. Its doubtful that a bunch of Ukrainian red-necks could actually operate a surface to air missile system so the downing of MH17 ends up on the doorstep of the Russian authorities i.e. Vlad Putin.
And, as if by magic, Alexander Litvinenko's death resurfaces to further undermine Putin's reputation, as if such was needed. And, at the same time, the Butler Sloss 'review of reviews' into child abuse (in high places) is conveniently pushed off the front pages. How fortunate for the one-time Speaker of the House of Commons, George Thomas and his reputation.
22 July 2014
15 July 2014
……or do they. I felt some sympathy for Baroness Butler Sloss as she stood down from her leading role in the Review of Reviews into the ongoing child abuse scandal that continues to hubble and bubble and threaten to destabilise the establishment.
She clearly has great integrity and a track record of doing a good job in similar situations. And she clearly placed great faith in her own view of her capabilities, a faith which was, most probably, justified. But what she, and Theresa May who appointed her, and the Civil Servants who advised Theresa all forgot was the simple fact that the Baroness was the sister of a previous Attorney General who made what might look, from 2014, some pretty odd decisions regarding who got prosecuted for what, back in the day.
Things have changed and it might just have been that the Baroness might have had a hard time squaring some of those past decisions with the way we consider the victims today. Back in the day, it wasn't the victims who were considered, it was the perpetrators and the whole sad story was held together by boy's clubs and private schools and ivy-league colleges and masonic lodges and the panoply of establishment power networks, networks which still function today, just in slightly different ways.
I'm sure that abuse still goes on: abuse of children; abuse of staff; abuse of power; abuse of influence; abuse of access……..the list is endless. But I suspect that the influential and the powerful are a little more careful how they indulge their desires to abuse. I'm sure they will take greater care to make sure that they cover their tracks, unlike their predecessors, who may well have left a few traces of their passing.
And had the Baroness found those traces, would she have been able to draw them out into the open and risk the ire of the hand that feeds her? Particularly if they had led to the Attorney General's office.
8 July 2014
Yesterday I saw part of an interview with ex-MP David Mellor who stepped into the Geoffrey Dickens 'missing dossier' debate on behalf of his old friend and colleague Leon Brittan. Mellor's position seemed to be that his friend Leon had been caught up in a witch-hunt and, as far as Mellor was concerned, Leon had always behaved quite properly which, Mellor believed, was a matter of record. Mellor went on to do a bit of mud-slinging at Labour over some of their member's relationship with the Paedophile Information Exchange, clearly in an effort to claim the moral high ground for the Conservatives.
Then, this morning on the BBC's 'Today' programme, an interview with Tim Fortescue (Conservative MP for Liverpool Garston between '66 and '74) was played where Fortescue, a government Whip in the Heath administration between '70 and '73, said the following:
"For anyone with any sense, who was in trouble would come to the Whips and tell them the truth, and say now, I'm in a jam, can you help?
It might be debt, it might be……a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which erm er, a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they'd come and ask if we could help and if we could, we did.
And we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points…….and if I mean, that sounds a pretty, pretty nasty reason, but it's one of the reasons because if we could get a chap out of trouble then, he will do as we ask forever more."
What do these vignette's tell us about the current 'missing dossier' debate. What it tells us is that, from the viewpoint of politicians, everything is about politics, power and influence. It would seem that child abuse was not seen by the Whips Office as being something that should be disclosed and punished but as something which could deliver influence. If the Geoffrey Dickens dossier had found its way to the Whips Office, it might simply have been seen as a tool to ensure compliance on the part of anyone named.
There is no doubt that times have changed and, in the light of Savile, sexual abuse is now taken rather more seriously than it was in the 1970s and 1980s but, underlying this change in society's attitude, there is the engrained behaviour of establishment organisations like government, like the civil service, like the Police. The tendency for such organisations to deliver favours or close ranks and protect their own reputation.
I remember, many many years ago, in the playground at my primary school, I saw a friend of mine being roughed-up by some of the class bullies. Being a pretty scrawny kid, I knew that stepping-in would probably go badly for me so my next option was to get help from the teacher who was on playground duty. The teacher did step in and sort out the problem but they then took me aside and told me not to tell tales. To say that this left me confused is something of an understatement. In my young eyes, my friend was being beaten up which seemed like a bad thing and I wanted to help yet when I did it seemed that I was in the wrong. And that was my first experience of the consequences, in our society, of 'whistle-blowing'. We are told that we should do the right thing yet, when we do it, it would seem that the whistle-blower pays the highest price.
What is required today is for those individuals who it is suggested were abused by 'high ranking politicians', for those individuals to step forward and tell their stories. But even today, in our changed times, will any of them feel safe enough to step forward or will they fear the consequences enough to maintain their silence? And if they did step forward, would David Mellor honour their courage more than he clearly honours his political friendships?
Also of interest:
Greville Janner, VIP child abuse and the mysterious death of Frank Beck | thecolemanexperience
Full set of reports from the 1991 Frank Beck Trial #1 | Desiring Progress
The 1984 “Cabinet Minister Scandal” | spotlight
6 July 2014
So, back in the early 1980s, then MP Geoffrey Dickens hands a file to the then Home Secretary which, it is claimed, details paedophile activity at Westminster i.e. at the heart of our 'democracy'. The implication is that this file referred to MP's or their staff or the staff at the Houses of Parliament. And now we are told that the then Home Secretary handed this file over to a civil servant for consideration and action, or not. And now we are told that nothing ever happened and that the file has either disappeared or been destroyed or cannot be found.
Then we hear that some 100 similar files dating up to 1999 and which, it is assumed, deal with the same subject, have also disappeared or been destroyed or cannot be found.
Do I think that there is some sort of cover-up? Of course I do because this isn't some weird DJ or some eccentric Australian entertainer. This deals with Establishment figures and, even if they are dead, the Establishment, the edifice of the state, would take a serious hit. The MP's Expenses scandal was bad enough. What would happen if the Great British Public was to be informed that, say, MPs had been fiddling with little boys or little girls and claiming expenses for doing so? And what would happen if, like Hillsborough, the Great British Public was to find out that the whole sordid story had been covered-up? No, it is almost certain that there has been a cover-up and I doubt that the facts will ever see the light of day.
To think that just recently there was a public debate about whether or not Britain should be party to the removal of awful dictators. It seems that Britain may just have its very own awful monsters residing at the heart of the Establishment and absolutely nothing will be done to bring them to book. What is it the bible says about paying more attention to the beam in your own eye?
3 July 2014
Once again, when Rolf Harris is found guilty, we witness all sorts of public hand wringing on the part of the media and the great and the good. 'How can this have happened?' is the most common refrain, as if the speaker didn't know or was somehow detached from the events and their history.
I seem to remember that Esther Rantzen made similar comments when the truth about Savile became public knowledge and now we hear that the late Geoffrey Dickens handed some sort of dossier about paedophilia within Parliament to Leon Britten back in the 1980s and, guess what, nothing happened.
And why does nothing happen? Because everyone sits back and waits for someone else to do something. And why does that happen? Because everyone is complicit in the silence. Because people are either scared or don't care, until the facts come out and then there is universal condemnation of the wrong-doer and the associated public hand-wringing.
And its all about what is and what is not acceptable in any given society at any given time. One celebrity name that seems to have escaped attention thus far is that of John Peel and, although I haven't read the book, it was mentioned last week on BBC Radio 4 that Peel admitted to having sex with under-age girls. And he probably did it because, at that time, it was OK, it was the done thing, it was one of the perks of the business. But it was abuse, of power, of position and it was against the law, but everyone else was doing it so why not join in?
And the same standards apply today, its just that the way we interpret them has changed. Can you imagine a CD with an 11 year old girl, topless, on the front cover. Blind Faith got away with it in 1969 but they wouldn't get away with it today.
But there is plenty of abuse going on today in all parts of our society and much of it is sanctioned by our society, because our society just doesn't care. Or at least it doesn't until someone else makes the effort.
24 June 2014
So Andy Coulson has been found guilty of phone hacking. Big deal. Our Government indulges in industrial scale hacking day and daily and has probably been doing so for decades yet its Andy Coulson who goes down.
As I said before, if our Government was subject to the same constraints, and penalties, that Andy Coulson faces, then I'd be less concerned. But they are not and I wonder, when considering the bigger picture, who represents the bigger threat to our freedom and democracy, Andy Coulson or our Government?
13 June 2014
The news from Iraq doesn't make comfortable reading given the lives lost and the £Billions spent on bringing 'democracy' to that country. Back in 2004, I read a short book, written by a weapons inspector, about the fruitless search for 'weapons of mass destruction' and I gained the impression that the invasion of Iraq was based upon a lie. Nothing that has happened since then has done much to change that perception and the continued delay in publication of the Chilcott Report strengthens that view.
Quite recently I watched a movie called 'Green Zone' which is a fictionalisation of the same fruitless search for WMDs in Iraq and it refers to the part that the Iraqi army could have played in stabilising the situation immediately after the invasion. This version suggests that the Americans couldn't countenance having any post-invasion connection with the Baathists who ran the army so it was disbanded and, as a result, the country descended into faction-fighting, which continues to this day.
And now we have a different version of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, bull-dozing their way towards Baghdad and, if current reports are to be believed, doing it very successfully. At the same time it would seem that the Kurds are seizing the opportunity to establish their own state so we are now watching the fragmentation of Iraq and a descent into extremist sectarianism, the things that the invasion and post-invasion Billions were meant to avoid.
Rather than bringing democracy, it would seem that the west has brought more death and destruction and, most probably, an even greater threat to the west's supply of oil than existed before.
And Tony Blair might have been able to stop it at the beginning. But he didn't.