What do Hillsborough, Lance Armstrong, Jimmy Saville, Lady Butler-Sloss and the Institute of Economic Affairs have in common?
The United Kingdom is a relatively congenial place to live. It is fairly tolerant, generally law abiding and relatively non-violent, with the expression of extreme views really not very welcome. UK is like its weather: far from perfect but relatively moderate. And yet! That very tolerance permits of exploitation, so long as it is not too explicit, overt and extreme. Such a system is surely worth conserving and defending.
At the original inquest on the 96 football fans who died 25 years ago at Hillsborough, the coroner wrongly recorded a verdict of accidental death. Twenty years on, and only due to the heroic persistence of relatives of those who died, the police and all public agencies were required to release all relevant documents. Police files were found to have been systematically doctored (116 alterations to statements) so as to absolve the police from blame and suggest some Liverpool fans were responsible, a point forcibly picked up by the Murdoch owned Sun newspaper. In 2012, the original inquest verdicts were quashed and new inquests ordered, and apologies were offered all round from the Prime Minister, the local Police, the Football Association and the then editor of the Sun. The legal process rumbles on (http://hillsboroughinquests.independent.gov.uk/) at huge expense to ensure the system will be seen to at least make nominal improvements for any future Hillsborough disasters.
Lance Armstrong personalises the system of corruption which enabled him to get to the top of his particular greasy pole and to stay top for many years. By illegal use of performance enhancing drugs, he won the Tour de France seven times from 1999-2005. Throughout his career he was widely accused of doping, but was prepared to go to extremes, such as emergency blood transfusions, to avoid incontrovertible evidence, and to coerce or bully his accusers. That way he became so important to the sport of cycling that team organisations, national and international associations and, of course, many corporate sponsors became complicit in the Armstrong lie.
The Jimmy Saville saga needs no repetition. He was a Lance Armstrong without the talent, apart from the dubious television based celebrity which gave him the power to coerce and bully those who might have exposed his particular corruption. His standing as a TV celebrity was too lucrative for him to be denounced by ordinary human beings. Following Saville, a rash of celebrity paedophiles has been revealed, as well as others of similar power and influence, such as former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith.
The Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10952138/Member-of-Edward-Heaths-government-boasted-he-could-cover-up-a-scandal-involving-small-boys.html) has reported a 1995 statement by a former Tory government whip about MP’s seeking the whips’ help with a problem: ‘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 … we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points… if we could get a chap out of trouble then, he will do as we ask forever more.’ That seems to be a pretty good explanation of how the system works.
The current headline story is not just about a Westminster based paedophile ring, but its apparently deliberate cover up with 114 secret files having gone missing. It’s as though there are senior politicians of standing, equivalent in their field to a Lance Armstrong or Jimmy Saville, and their exposure would involve compromising the whole system. So the Prime Minister has demanded a search for the missing files, and the Home Secretary has appointed Lady Butler-Sloss to head up an inquiry into the scandal. Baroness Butler Sloss is not only a parliamentarian, likely to perceive the need to defend parliament’s reputation, but she is the sister of the late Lord Havers who was attorney general when the child abuse cases were apparently ignored. He was also the lord chancellor that supported the decision, not to prosecute Sir Peter Hayman, a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange who was known to send paedophile literature through the post but was never prosecuted. Not only that but Lady Butler-Sloss has already cocked up one inquiry into two paedophile priests (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10957364/Baroness-Butler-Sloss-criticised-over-previous-flawed-paedophile-report.html).
What conceivable reason could the Home Secretary have for asking Lady Butler-Sloss, of all people, to conduct the inquiry into such a sensitive subject, which further threatens the credibility of Westminster itself?
All this, and no mention of MPs’ expenses, the Bullingdon club, phone hacking or the Camden set. But how does the Institute of Economic Affairs come into it?
The IEA is just one of very many think tanks and lobbyists whose purpose is to promote the neoclassical economic perspective which explains and justifies the predatory financial sector. This involves the overarching importance in corporate affairs of short term shareholder value, the utter rejection of any redistribution of income and wealth, the minimisation of the State and public sector and maximisation of private business ie privatisation, and the rejection of social responsibilities of any kind resting on the private sector. The result that the IEA and the thousands of other externally financed agencies promote, is ever increasing inequality and the rejection of concepts such as fairness. The £billions poured into such propaganda by interested parties will, in the end, be bound to cause a more than equal reaction, of which today’s strikes may be just a straw in the wind.