Abuse Campaigners Are Not Conspiracy Theorists, Mr Cameron
In George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four he wrote: “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it.”
In 2014 Britain we do not have an all-powerful charismatic leader, merely a strained coalition of desperadoes, dominated by a party that hasn’t won an election for almost 23 years. Nevertheless, our system is not immune to underhand Orwellian tactics.
Worryingly, we have got used to our surveillance society and the idea of governance by propaganda, misinformation, denial of truth, and the rewriting of history. Google pages about powerful people vanish from before our eyes, and unflattering Wikipedia entries get changed so rapidly that it’s almost as though some multinational PR company perpetually edits it.
With such techniques available to the elite, we might not expect them to stoop to something as ludicrously basic as trying to convince us that two plus two makes five – or indeed zero. However, in the past few days George Osborne and David Cameron have each tried to convince us of exactly those things.
Under Ukip-induced pressure to make it look as though he has authority in Europe, Osborne bragged repeatedly that the rebate on our EU bill is a new and unexpected discount, gained by his expert negotiation. He and other Tories continued to say this after a range of EU politicians made it clear that the rebate we are getting was always coming our way. All George has done is delay payment – not a great bit of role modelling for a society drowning in debt.
Cameron has spun in a different direction, arithmetically, trying to convince people concerned about child abuse and cover-ups that two plus two makes nothing. Spinning on the day the Wanless report, into missing Home Office documents said to contain information about powerful people abusing children, was released, Cameron resorted to calling abuse campaigners conspiracy theorists. To do so, he exploited the fact that evidence could not be found within a few weeks to explain just how at least 114 files concerning child abuse went missing.
One of the missing files is a dossier presented in 1983 to then Home Secretary Leon Brittan by the Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens. Mr Dickens, who is now deceased, spoke in 1983 of a paedophile ring involving “big, big names – people in positions of power, influence and responsibility”. Despite attempts to posthumously smear Dickens, there has been progress in investigating abuse rings linked to powerful people, including those involving the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE).
Therefore for Cameron to say, in response to the Wanless report, “It is important that it says that there wasn’t a cover-up. Some of the people who’ve been looking for conspiracy theories will have to look elsewhere” seems astonishingly callous and shows little respect for survivors. The fact that NSPCC chief executive officer and former civil servant Peter Wanless wasn’t able to prove exactly how files went missing does not prove that the abuse described in files did not take place or that the files were not deliberately removed or destroyed.
Mr Wanless has said Cameron was wrong to dismiss a cover-up based on the limited investigation that took place, telling BBC Radio 4: “We made very clear that we can’t make a wider conclusion than that based on the task we were given and the information available to us.” Home Secretary Theresa May drew very different conclusions from the report to those expressed by Cameron, admitting to Parliament: “There might have been a cover-up. I cannot stand here and say the Home Office was not involved in a cover-up in the 1980s, and that is why I am determined to get to the truth.”
Mrs May’s determination may be of some comfort to survivors of abuse, given two false starts of the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Nevertheless, campaigners and survivors I have contact with have expressed grave concerns that the inquiry will be a whitewash or delays will mean nothing new will be known until after next year’s general election.
Anyone who has investigated or been preyed upon by paedophile rings will understand that anxieties about delays are of great significance, as they relate to surviving networks. Even in cases where abuse happened decades ago, the existence of survivors and abuser networks means that the crimes are ongoing. A gang that got away with a violent armed robbery 30 years ago are still a gang of violent armed robbers today. A network that abused children and covered it up are still child abusers. Media emphasises that the inquiry is into ‘historical child abuse’ but this rather ignores the reality of abuse and the nature of paedophile rings and cover-ups. The crime remains a crime everyday. Survivors remain abused everyday and abusers remain abusers everyday.
There are compelling and troubling links between abuse in North Wales and that in children’s homes and approved schools across the country, PIE, Westminster and Elm guest house in London. Not to mention links between Jersey and Jimmy Savile, and between Savile and Cyril Smith – who is also linked to Elm guest house and the abuse of children elsewhere. There are also questions to answer about the security services alleged presence at Kincora Boys’ Home in Northern Ireland and Elm guest house.
These are just a few examples where connections have been established. Anyone who has researched child abuse rings in Britain is painfully aware of links between networks. Any commentator also knows that writing about these abuse rings at the moment is a legal minefield, as people who previously could have been mentioned – to help explain links between rings – have recently been re-arrested. As legal proceedings are active for those cases, it is not possible to name them in a piece relating to abuse rings, because it potentially prejudices forthcoming trials. The absence of that information in this piece protects me. The absence of files from the Home Office – however they went missing – can only protect abusers and their protectors.