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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Child Abuse - Drop The Politicking

As successive revelations of child sexual exploitation (CSE) have been splashed across the papers, many pundits and politicians have sought to profit from them: the subsequent blame game has seen the finger pointed at Councils and social workers, Police forces, followers of The Prophet, and other politicians, this last usually meaning right-leaning pundits kicking anyone involved with the Labour Party.
Let's see everyone here deal with this together

Two events in the past week have shown this approach to be meaningless: first came the report into CSE in Oxfordshire, where a Tory-run Council had presided over the abuse of over 370 girls. The idea that this was some kind of Labour problem was by now bust. Moreover, while in towns like Rotherham there were press calls for heads to roll, there was no such outcry over Oxfordshire, and indeed, nobody resigned or was sacked.

And now has come the news that the late Cyril Smith, believed to have been a paedophile and serial child abuser in and around Rochdale for many years while he was ostensibly a much-loved Liberal and then Lib Dem MP, was proposed for a knighthood, and then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was told of the suspicions over his behaviour. Mrs T went ahead and passed the knighthood request anyway.

It would not have been an isolated incident: Mrs T did, after all, appoint Peter Morrison, whose political career literally hit the buffers in the Gents’ toilets on Platform 12 at Crewe station, as her PPS. And the Tory Party also has to consider investigations into the late Leon Brittan, which have been reported by the Sunday Mirror today with evident party political relish. And that’s the wrong thing to do.

The sad fact of the matter is that CSE has been frighteningly widespread for far too long, and very little has been done to tackle it. Some in the press shrug their shoulders; others blame politicians; others blame some of all of the remaining Usual Suspects. But the press has had this issue in plain sight for more than a decade and a half, and it itself has done very little about it - until all the scandals came to light.

You think I jest? Consider this article, published by the Guardian back in 1998, by Nick Davies of Phone Hacking fame. The title - “The sheer scale of child sexual abuse in Britain” - tells you all you need to know. It’s all there: the North Wales care homes, Morrison, the networks of abusers who got away with all manner of crimes, not just in the UK, but across mainland Europe as well.

Very little was done then. So nobody should be shocked that the abuse keeps coming to light, whether it is paedophiles, or those in the night-time economies of major towns and cities preying on vulnerable young women. CSE is not a party political matter, and nobody should get away with opting for the cheap cop-out of trying to categorise it thus. CSE should concern us all, whatever our political leanings.

So stop the point-scoring over this issue. And start backing moves to tackle it.


rob said...

And kudos to Exaro News for being the main stay behind attempts to bring the historical cases out into the open and to the survivors of child abuse who have had the courage to come forward and tell their story despite much intimidation.

Anonymous said...

There's even less to the various scandals than you suggest. Sure Mrs Thatcher knew about Cyril Smith. Thanks to Private Eye, everyone did. It was also a matter of record that the CPS had cleared him more than once. In a less suspicious age, that was enough to exonerate him. As to Peter Morrison, it's impossible to find a clear firsthand account of what he actually did, and whether it indeed involved children. The stories about Brittan are even harder to substantiate.
I'd be cautious about using Nick Davies as an authoritative source on this topic, as it seems to be this otherwise admirable journalist's blind spot. You might like to contrast his treatment of the Wrexham scandal with that of Richard Webster. Note that Davies is one of the few journalists to support the completely exploded US McMartin ritual abuse case.

rob said...

@ Anon

"CPS had cleared him"

Not quite true - they didn't DPP advised against prosecution.

See: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/16/cyril-smith-sex-abuse-cps-1970-report-lancashire-dpp

Something like Neil Wallis of NOTW fame wasn't "cleared" by CPS as he claimed at first but no action was taken to charge until later.

I suspect that the claims are true and that the cover up is now the big story.