Nov 022012

If you’re living in Britain at the moment, it can’t have escaped your notice that paedophilia is the flavour of this generation’s angst.  Or should I say, a previous generation’s angst.

I’ve already posted on one high profile case (as well as the media’s lily-livered reaction to it): the DJ and entertainer, Jimmy Savile.  Tonight, it would appear that the BBC current affairs programme “Newsnight” will – if it doesn’t find itself looking down the barrel of a super-injunction – reveal that a senior politician from the Thatcher era was allegedly involved in similar activities.  What’s more, it would seem that this person is still alive.

The Twitterverse is going pretty barmy with the rumours at the moment, as the Twitterverse tends to do in such matters.  But I do wonder if we shouldn’t take a wider look at what’s happening here.  Over the past few days, I’ve read about 650 instances of abuse in 40 boys’ homes located in North Wales; astonishing allegations of a paedophile ring close to the heart of a previous government; celebrities various arrested and bailed by the London police; and a general and growing sensation of something very ugly.

Paedophilia is most definitely ugly: an attack by the strong and imposing on the most defenceless of all our citizens.  This sudden raft of revelations is clearly a cry for justice: that Jimmy Savile appears to have been so “prolific” is, for example, an undeniable way for an emotionally awful boil of such characteristics to be utterly lanced once and for all.

But bringing to light paedophilia as a crime of previous and supposedly responsible generations also fits another curiously appropriate purpose: that of attributing terrible acts to such generations which, however agile and cunning their political arts under normal circumstances, cannot ultimately escape a finally ignominious fate and vigorous condemnation from their very own offspring – both figurative and literal.

It’s almost a challenge from beyond the grave: these politicians, celebrities and makers and shakers of all characteristics might have managed to conserve their reputations as far as history was concerned – but try and beat this rap if you can.

So if I am right in the psychology of this, even a little, even a mite, where Thatcher and her reputation for Iron Lady could not be properly besmirched by political discourse – essentially because those who supported her saw value in precisely those elements which her opposition so violently criticised her for – they most certainly can be damaged, and perhaps in the near future fatally for Cameron & Co, by such profoundly unsettling allegations about the establishment’s behaviours in the distant but still imposing edifices of the past.

In summary, revealing crimes of paedophilia is a perfect way (whether subconsciously or not) to forcefully hit back once and for all not only at the perceived sexual abuses of a prior generation but also their far more prosaically sociopolitical ones: a perfect way to hit back for those of us who are hurting because of what our parents’ generation has done to this world – a world we are now to do little more than survive in; a perfect way to hit back for those of us who feel society has become a heartless machine – a machine whose humanity is now so very visible by its manifest absence.


Update to this post: today, November 3rd, Tom Watson has published a terrifying series of observations, on the basis of information only a politician of his integrity is ever in the position of having honest access to.  As he rightly concludes:

I wish I could fight the case of everybody who has been abused by a paedophile who has so far got away with it, but I can’t. That is a job for the police. Up and down the country private grief is being stirred by these stories. I cannot help in each individual case, but the police and support services can, must and will. If you were abused a long time ago and want justice now, go to the police. It is not too late.

What I am going to do personally is to speak out on this extreme case of organised abuse in the highest places. At the core of all child abuse is the abuse of power. The fundamental power of the adult over the child. Wherever this occurs it is an abomination. But these extreme cases are abuse of power by some of the most powerful people. Abuse of trust by some of the most trusted. It is a sickening story, but one which – like the truth about Jimmy Savile – is now going to be told.

I strongly advise you to read his article in full.  As with the hacking scandal, this strikes at the very soul of a very British way of doing things.  Whilst communities were destroyed in the name of distant and abstruse economic policy, these politicians were untouchable.  But even an establishment as powerful and navel-gazing as the British clearly has been – well, it cannot resist forever the tidal wave of ordinary people’s disgust.

Whilst political argument and discourse acted as a barrier to closer examination, there was nothing we could do.

But there always comes a time when good people like Mr Watson get to have their say.

A moment and opportunity to truly re-examine our profoundest and most hurtful memories.

All power to him, then.  All power to the people.

Nov 022012

What can bring together those who think progressively?  A lowest common denominator?  How surly that sounds!  How about an overarching theme that allows us to rid society of all disadvantage?

Those of us who claim to be on the left of the political war-zone are always being accused of having envious bones in our bodies.  We have tried the old anti-abortion/pro-life trick of renaming: envy of particular advantage born of post-code lotteries various becomes a desire to allow everyone who wishes to do so to aspire to a better life with a fair spreading out of opportunity.  We still allow the filthy rich to stink their way to the afterlife – but, at the same time, choose to give the poorer in society that conceptual embellishment of a possible place at the high table.

So we rename our labels and think that is enough.  But what if, as progressives (and by progressives I simply mean not regressives!), we one day manage to find a common goal that doesn’t need to write down our honestly-held aspirations in order to achieve some trivial and irrelevant agreement?  What if – instead of drilling down to what loosely binds us together, instead of triangulating falsely those marketing messages that serve only to win elections by allowing politicians to lie through their plastic teeth – we were able to encounter a yardstick so powerful that none of us would have problems in deciding what to do next?

For progressives have always had that difficult ability to disagree.  Even in the face of an awful enemy such as the current Coalition government in Britain.  If we don’t disagree on specific policies because of – for example – the language, we will disagree on tactics because – for example – they use the wrong tools.  And then there’s our effervescent desire to set up new organisations.  If the left were as good at setting up corporations as they are at setting up protest groups, not only would the corporations probably be kinder but the economy would probably be healthier.

We clearly need to gather our resources around one flag or another.  To date, for people like myself, that need for a flag has meant choosing between a single-issue institution or a political party: a focussed grouping such as Greenpeace, CND – or maybe a trades union on the one hand; Labour, the Tories or the Lib Dems on the other.

So it is that we are battered from both right and left of whichever organisation we finally settle for, as we attempt to work out which direction it should take in the future – as well as how far it should allow itself to compromise its mission whilst trying to fulfil the same.

Pretty murky stuff.  No wonder we’re all getting more than a little politically punch-drunk.

Sometimes, knowing quite bitterly that whether you do politics or not, it’s bound to do you, I do get this feeling this is what it must be like to suffer abuse.  You hate politics then?  It doesn’t care.  It continues to destroy you, whatever you feel.  Like a terrible school bully, and whether you choose to engage with it or not, it refuses to leave you alone in the corner of the schoolyard; refuses to leave you in miserable peace.

I now know what it is like to be almost sexually assaulted, because I know what it is like to live in a Western democracy which is fearlessly losing its hold on fairness, responsibility and integrity.

In fact, politics has become an aspect of society which closely mirrors the process of bullying.  In almost everything that modern Britain does to its sad inhabitants, this is the reality.  This is what’s happening.

We, the progressives that cannot ever agree even to disagree winningly, need to pull our disagreeable socks up.  So what’s really at the heart of everything that’s going wrong in our society?  Not the poor in social housing who have extra rooms in their maisonettes.  Not the sick and disabled who struggle to pull together a positive outlook on life, every morning they get up to televised hate on the subject of their multifarious conditions.  Not even the welfare system that supposedly teaches the lazy to become lazier.


Those are symptoms, you idiots.  Those are symptoms.

The real cause is a massive disconnect between the narrative of representative and/or participatory democracy – a narrative which supposedly defines and separates our ways of doing things from the barbarians – and the reality of those tools of privilege which really make our societies function and operate.  In a dog-eat-dog society such as ours is becoming – deliberately, essentially, in an organised manner, with an intentionality I fear more and more – it’s time we properly identified what brings the rest of us together.  What brings the rest of us together is not a desire to see wealth shared out.  What brings the rest of us together is not a wish to see justice done.  What brings the rest of us together is not a need to see that this piecemeal policy or that be triumphantly implemented.

No.  What brings us together, what brings the rest of us together, what brings together those of us who are getting so very mightily fed up of being abused, almost sexually assaulted, bullied and destroyed by politics, is an evermore profound, deep and abiding hatred of self-serving privilege.

Yes.  It’s getting to that point.  The tipping-point is being reached.  Everything, but everything, which is going wrong in democracy today – everything which is whisking us back to the Dark Ages of primitive civilisation – can be traced back to that word “privilege”.  We need no other concept to understand the how, why, what, when and where of modern politics.

Privilege is our common enemy – and its elimination should be our common goal.

And there comes a moment in one’s life and political trajectory when one realises those who came before one were right.

Isn’t it sad that those who hate should manage to convert those who love to their miserable cause?