As someone who wants Scottish independence, by definition I am opposed to the British state. Anything which weakens the British state strengthens my cause. But not like this, I don’t want it to happen like this.
Sometimes you can take pleasure in the misfortunes of your political enemies, but sometimes you can’t because the misfortune of your enemy comes on the back of abused and broken innocence. Sometimes you find yourself hoping and praying that what is being said about your enemy isn’t true, can’t be true, because if it is true it revolts and disgusts, because it means that things are far worse than you could possibly have feared – even in the nightmares that stalk you on a cold and lonely night. Sometimes you don’t want to believe what is being said because it means that the mad fringes of conspiracy theories might be right, and that means we live on the fringes in a state of madness. But this is the state we live in. The British state is an abusers’ state, a state of abuse, a state of moral poverty and political cowardice.
This weekend my Twitter feed was filled with comments marked with the hashtag #60mins, but the hashtag didn’t trend, didn’t appear in the list of most talked about subjects as these things automatically do. And that by itself sparks suspicion.
The hashtag refers to an Australian current affairs programme, which very recently broadcast an episode investigating alleged paedophile rings in the very heart of the British establishment. It was claimed that over many years, important and powerful men at the centre of the British state sexually assaulted dozens, if not hundreds, of vulnerable children, many of whom were in care and whose well-being had been entrusted to a state which then abused them and offered them up as sacrificial lambs to the sick fantasies of evil men. Even worse, it alleged that certain very powerful individuals, some of whom remain in public life as lauded lords, killed kids for fun. According to the programme, the British state colluded in covering it all up.
The programme claimed that the British state used the agencies of public security to cover up the abuse, in order to protect the reputations of those who may have committed foul crimes against children, and by extension to protect the reputation of the British state. One of the worst abusers according to the programme was a man who was deputy head of the intelligence services. He used his influence and power to prevent investigations into the abuse that he and his powerful friends committed. Men, the programme said, like Leon Brittan and Cyril Smith.
We saw something similar with the Catholic Church. Those with the power to punish abusers, to remove them from positions of power and influence, to protect the vulnerable and the weak, did nothing. They did nothing because they believed that protecting the reputation of their institution was more important than preventing abuse. As long as the public don’t know what is going on, then the institution preserves its reputation intact. It remains an institution which commands respect and deference. But a reputation which depends upon secrecy is already a reputation which is worth nothing. We live in a state whose reputation is valueless. That’s the British state, an abusers’ state, a state of disgrace and shame.
I don’t want this to be true. I don’t want to live in a state where nothing is sacred and no-one is safe, but a part of me knows that there is an evil truth at the heart of these accusations.
My late partner Andy served in the Metropolitan police for many years. Back in the early 1990s he told me that there had been a police investigation into the Liberal MP Cyril Smith. Andy wasn’t directly involved in the investigation himself, but it was common knowledge amongst officers in his police station in the East End of London. The Met police had decided to take action about the prostitution and drug dealing which was then rampant around Kings Cross station. It wasn’t a specific investigation into high profile abusers, but Andy told me that during this investigation the Liberal MP Cyril Smith had been seen by police picking up rent boys outside the station, and taking them off in his car and engaging in sexual activity with them. Mostly they were homeless teenagers, out on the streets after years in care, left to fend for themselves as Thatcherism began to bite. Andy said that no action was ever taken against Smith because he was a high profile public figure. He added that the officers investigating the case were warned off by some very senior figures, and it was all quietly dropped.
When knowledge of Smith’s abusive activities came to public knowledge many years later, after his death, I asked Andy for more information about what he’d told me all those years before. Sadly by that time Andy’s vascular dementia was pretty far advanced, and he couldn’t remember any details or the names of any of the officers involved. He passed away a few months later.
We can press for an enquiry into the events of the past. We can demand that the police investigate unhindered by the powerful. We can demand justice for the victims and survivors of abuse. But we can have no confidence that we’ll ever get these things, and that means we can have no confidence that they won’t happen again in the future. This is a state which doesn’t do transparency, which doesn’t allow the little people to know what the big ones get up to behind the locked doors and closed curtains of the establishment. Being British means to know your place, to be subject, to be silent.
I don’t want this state to have power over me or my family. I don’t feel safe. The agencies of the state which are supposed to make us feel safe instead make us feel unsafe. The agencies of the state are – allegedly – actively covering up the worst abuse possible. When that happens we no longer live in a democracy. I don’t want to be British. And with every passing scandal, every instance of abuse that comes to light, another little bit of Britishness dies. Its passing will not be mourned.
All I can do is suggest that you watch the programme for yourself. It’s not easy or comfortable viewing.
I will leave comments open on this article, however PLEASE DO NOT ACCUSE ANY LIVING PERSON AS AN ABUSER. DO NOT NAME ANY ALLEGED ABUSERS OR WRITE ANYTHING WHICH COULD LEAD TO THEM BEING IDENTIFIED. Any comments which do so will be removed immediately. You risk prejudicing a future trial or investigation, and I do not want to get sued – and possibly lose my home because I can’t afford to pay damages. Your cooperation is appreciated.
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