I am addressing this blog post to those on the left based in London, maybe working in journalism or the media, or in academia, or in a creative or cultural field. I want to know how many people you know who think two or more of the below?
(a) Labour’s heart is in the right place, but they can’t be trusted with the economy – especially after Gordon Brown sold off our gold last time.
(b) Immigration is not necessarily bad, but has to be carefully controlled to protect British people’s jobs.
(c) The system is too soft on criminals, and tougher sentencing is needed.
(d) Terrorists and child killers deserve the death penalty.
(e) Muslims in the UK need to demonstrate their allegiance to this country.
(f) The current benefits system rewards those who are work-shy and penalises hard-working people.
(g) We should be allowed to be proud of being British again.
(h) Too many decisions are being taken for us in Europe.
(i) Multiculturalism was an experiment which failed.
(j) I work hard for my salary, as do many others, and it is wrong for the government to take it away from us.
(k) Parents and schools cannot maintain discipline with one hand tied behind their back.
(l) There are too many Scots dominating politics and the media.
Because of the nature of my work as a musician and academic, a large number of the people I see quite regularly do belong to the categories mentioned at the top of the post; my wife’s circles are a little broader. Amongst my own family and their circles I would encounter many if not all of the above often; amongst hers much less frequently.
But if you have never or extremely rarely encountered anyone who thinks two or more of the above, I would suggest you have moved in narrow circles. Enlightened ones, perhaps, but narrow nonetheless.
It is easy, all too easy, for metropolitan liberal left figures to spend so much time in the company of fellow believers so as to imagine anyone who thinks otherwise is some type of a freak. Amongst academics working in the arts, humanities and social sciences (other than economics) I could probably count on at most two hands the numbers I know of (not just have met) who would agree with several of the above. In so many of those circles, whiteness is associated almost solely with racism and the need for post-colonial guilt, maleness is about little more than macho violence and at best sublimated urges towards gang rape. The white working classes in particular are imagined to epitomise both of these things, and are one step away from storm troopers; previously they were associated with the BNP (any sign of an England flag, even during World Cup time, would be read as an unequivocal signifier of such a thing; one reason that Emily Thornberry’s notorious tweet caused such controversy), nowadays a UKIP vote is assumed to betoken the same.
I am not disingenuous and would hate to minimise the severe nature of racism or sexual violence. But I am less convinced that a serious attempt to combat these things is the real motivator for many in metropolitan liberal circles; rather, they are a means for demonstrating their own sense of superiority, in a manner which is as elitist as any, combined with a dehumanising fear of any group who they can safely see as a dangerous ‘other’ without transgressing certain liberal articles of faith.
I do not believe in any of the views above, and have sometimes despaired of those who do, especially those relating to crime and capital punishment. But I do recognise that many do hold them, and that Labour needs to win some of these people over. In some ways they have done this – in the part of the country from which I hail, the North East, a previously solid Labour area though in which UKIP have made serious inroads, one will certainly encounter views on crime and immigration which would horrify many metropolitan Labourites. But a future Labour party needs to accept that at present their ideologies do not necessarily command widespread approval, and work constructively with people who might be persuaded towards their arguments. Trade Unions have not always supported campaigns for equal pay, and were sometimes actively hostile; this was not a reason for the left to abandon trade unionism, but to work constructively to try and persuade these organisations and their members to change their view, an aim which was ultimately in large measure successful.
A great many liberal intellectuals, however, preach a doctrine of identity politics which postulates absolute differences and total irreconcilabilities between groups on the basis of ethnicity, gender, and various else (drawing upon a Marxist model of the antagonistic relationship between classes – but that was about economic position, not identity). An ideology, using hideous academic buzzwords such as ‘intersectionality’, which treats with suspicion all except those who tick every box of oppression, is no basis upon which to formulate a mass movement.
The modern Labour Party is not as bad as this, but there are some similarities. There are plenty within the party who want simply to stigmatise and shame large numbers of people for their views, and would view opinions on race and immigration of many of the population as requiring little less than ‘re-education’, with all the Stalinist implications of such a term. Under the last Labour government, measures were recommended involving the keeping registers of young children who had committed any sexist, racist or homophobic transgression, even when as young as 4; this is Labour politics at its most authoritarian, eager to stigmatise anyone who steps out of line. Certainly serious prejudice, hate or bullying in schools need to be addressed, and education is needed where they are found, but all these types of measures will achieve is to alienate and breed resentment in large numbers of children and their parents.
I am deeply disappointed with last weeks’ election results, and still passionately hope for a future Labour government. My own ideological preferences would be for policies very much associated with the left of the party, or in some ways to the left of anything represented within Labour, but I am realistic enough to realise this is a small minority view unlikely to gain serious traction in the foreseeable future. I have as much as anyone decried Blairites, and Tory voters, but now see the futility and counter-productivity of this; I think they are wrong, but demonising such people is hardly the way to convince them. I was very angry in 2010 about many in my own circles who went weak at the knees about the figure of Nick Clegg during the campaign, genuinely believing him to offer an alternative to the left of Labour, but with hindsight the foolishness of such a belief has been more than demonstrated, and the party has paid a terrible price for it. These people may not have been typical Liberal Democrat voters, though, more than a few of whom might have been as inclined towards the Conservatives as towards Labour.
For now, I do not believe it is impossible to have a Labour government who will commit and deliver on progressive approaches to taxation and public spending, proper funding of health and education, strong child-care provision, a fair benefits system which provides a safety net for those at the bottom and does not consign others to poverty and misery if they need to draw on benefits, decent affordable housing, positive and productive measures to reduce sexual inequality and build mutual racial tolerance, protect civil liberties and human rights, tackle crime whilst realising its social roots, make the UK play a positive role within the EU, and work to reduce extremes of inequality. Not all of these things might be able to be achieved in one or two parliaments, but if some progress can be made towards some of them, that is much better than leaving it to the Conservatives to decimate the welfare state, the public sector and much else, as I believe they will, as well as taking Britain back to a mean-spirited, aggressive xenophobic Little Englanderism which I had forlornly hoped New Labour had consigned to history.
Labour needs to move away from a certain dominance of a metropolitan faction which achieved some prominence around the leadership of Ed Miliband, and start both talking and listening with a wider section of the population, without feeling the need to hector and preach towards them, or make amply clear that they feel the need to hold their noses. Left-wing politicians, commentators, academics and other metropolitan fellow travellers have as much to learn as to teach, though many of them cannot imagine this. The party should reject for leader representatives of their authoritarian control-freak wing, a tradition begun by Jack Straw and David Blunkett and continued by the likes of Keith Vaz and Yvette Cooper, and could do worse than give prominent positions to Tom Watson and Simon Danczuk, most immensely respectable MPs who have done invaluable campaigning work on the issue of VIP abuse of children (an issue about which I am absolutely sure that the wider public would share a level of revulsion that would drown out the denials from senior figures in all political parties).
There is no reason, I believe, why Labour could not win round many to at least some of the arguments above. But this will never happen until those who are not yet won round, and who think some of the views above, are treated with some respect rather than contempt.
My predictions from January for the election results turned out to be significantly out; but then so did almost everyone else’s, including those of Iain Dale and Peter Kellner which I cite in the above link. One small consolation, in predictive terms, is having forecast a bigger collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote than many others did; it always appeared to me that with the loss of the major tactical vote which had doubled the Liberal Democrat representation in Parliament in 1997 from what it had previously been, the party would fall away to less than 20 seats, though it is still shocking to see them fall to 8.
But in the midst of an emotional aftermath and a large amount of disappointment and disillusionment for many on the left following the unexpected result, have a look at the actual results in terms of votes and percentages, compared to 2010:
Conservatives: 10,806,015, 36.4% in 2010; 11,334,920, 36.8% in 2015.
Labour: 8,609,527, 29.0% in 2010; 9,344,328, 30.4% in 2015.
Liberal Democrats: 6,836,824, 23.0% in 2010; 2,415,888, 7.9% in 2015.
UKIP: 919,471, 3.1% in 2010; 3,881,129, 12.6% in 2015.
SNP: 491,386, 1.7% in 2010; 1,454,436, 4.7% in 2015.
Greens: 265,243, 0.9% in 2010; 1,154,562, 3.8% in 2015.
Plaid Cymru: 165,394, 0.4% in 2010; 181,694, 0.6% in 2015.
Turnout: 29,687,604, 65.1% in 2010; 30,691,680, 66.1% in 2015.
So in 2015 there was a very small increase in both Conservative and Labour votes. UKIP and the Greens had the biggest success in votes terms, both quadrupling their numbers (though UKIP started out from a much bigger base and are a very much more significant force); the SNP trebled theirs. The Liberal Democrats had by far the worst result of the above, falling to almost one-third of what they had before. Plaid Cymru achieved a very small increase.
But then look at the results in Scotland:
Conservatives: 412,655, 16.7% in 2010; 434,097, 14.9% in 2015.
Labour: 1,035,526, 42.0% in 2010; 707,147, 24.3% in 2015.
Liberal Democrats: 465,471, 18.9% in 2010; 219,675, 7.5% in 2015.
SNP: 491,386, 19.9% in 2010; 1,454,436, 50.0% in 2015.
UKIP: 17,223, 0.7% in 2010; 47,078, 1.6% in 2015.
Greens (Scottish Greens): 16,827, 0.7% in 2010, 39,205, 1.3% in 2015.
Turnout: 2,465,722, 63.8% in 2010; 2,910,465, 71.1% in 2015.
The Conservatives slightly upped their number of votes, but fell in terms of proportions by about one-eighth; Labour fell drastically, to almost half of their percentage votes, and the Liberal Democrats even more so. The SNP had a massive rise to two-and-a-half times the percentage their received in 2010, and interestingly the Greens doubled their vote, and UKIP did even better (doing better than the Greens by all measures in Scotland).
So if we therefore look at the votes for the five major national parties in England and Wales alone, we get the following figures:
Conservatives: 10,393,360, 38.2% in 2010; 10,900,823, 39.2% in 2015.
Labour: 7,574,001, 27.8% in 2010; 8,637,181, 31.1% in 2015.
Liberal Democrats: 6,371,353, 23,4% in 2010; 2,196,213, 7.9% in 2015.
UKIP: 902,248, 3.3% in 2010; 3,834,051, 13.8% in 2015.
Greens: 248,416, 0.9% in 2010; 1,115,357, 4.0% in 2015.
Turnout: 27,221,882, 65.2% in 2010; 27,781,215, 65.6% in 2015.
So here the patterns are similar to those for the UK as a whole, except for the fact that Labour gained 3.3% in England and Wales (compared to just 1.4% in the whole UK) and the Conservatives 1% (0.4% in the UK). UKIP and the Greens’ increases were both larger in England and Wales compared to the UK as a whole.
In terms of seats, in 2015 Labour gained 10 seats from the Conservatives, but the Conservatives in turn gained 8 from them, a net gain for Labour of just 2. Labour won 12 from the Liberal Democrats, but the Conservatives won 27 (their net gain in the election of seats from any other parties was 29). The Liberal Democrats had previously had a strong presence in Scotland with 11 seats; with all but one of these falling away.
Without the loss of 40 seats in Scotland, Labour would have a total of 272, 16 more than in 2010; without the huge gains from the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives would have had 304, just 2 more than in 2010. Labour fell because its gains from the Liberal Democrats (12 seats) and Conservatives (2 net) were too modest to match their losses to the SNP (40 seats). The Conservatives lost no seats to the SNP at all and scraped a majority primarily through winning seats from the Liberal Democrats.
So the pattern appears as follows: in England and Wales Labour upped its vote by 3.3%, respectable but nothing like enough to make a real difference, largely through the collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote, but this benefited the Tories much more, either through directly taking votes or the collapse of an anti-Tory tactical vote. Labour were thrown back immensely above all by their drastic fall in Scotland. The Conservatives are very far from having won over a decisive section of the UK population; they have around 8% more than Labour in England and Wales, but have not hit 40% of those who vote. They are in a similar position to Harold Wilson after the October 1974 election, and a worse one than John Major after the 1992 election.
But for Labour, consider the percentages of the vote they have received in elections since 1964:
After the massive losses in 1983, Neil Kinnock was able to get the party almost to their 1979 levels by 1992. Ed Miliband has achieved considerably less than this. Tony Blair did not achieve the share of the vote of Harold Wilson in the 1960s (or even when Labour lost to the Conservatives in 1970) but benefited from a Conservative Party which had moved considerably to the right and lost a significant vote to the Liberal Democrats, who were also prepared to help Labour defeat the Conservatives through tactical voting. These factors have now changed; few would now appear to vote Liberal Democrat tactically against the Conservatives, and David Cameron has just about managed to convince wavering voters that the party is less toxic than it was during the Blair years.
Labour have not lost their key base of around 30% of the vote which translates into somewhere between 200 and 250 seats – though inevitable boundary changes will hurt the number of seats they can gain with the same votes. To win again, they need to regain a significant amount of their seats in Scotland (which may be the biggest challenge) and also make some inroads into that Conservative 8% lead in England and Wales. The apparent difficulty seems to lie in the fact that these aims seem mutually incompatible. However, I do not believe that the Scottish vote represents a significant move to the left and would ask how many would have voted for the SNP if they had the same programme except for the demand for independence, or any other rhetoric about being ‘Scottish’ or ‘national’; their performance might then be more comparable to that of the Greens. A situation of full financial autonomy, and its economic consequences (let alone those of full independence) might change the view of a great many Scottish people towards nationalism, though either such move would be very difficult to undo. Personally I find it extremely sinister when 50% of the people of an area unite under a flag, and find ludicrous suggestions that Labour would surge forth to victory if they became more like the SNP; they might find themselves closer to the position of the Greens.
Without the charismatic figure of Farage at the helm, the UKIP vote may wither away, but the consequences of this remain to be unseen. It will take a great deal for the Liberal Democrats to rebuild themselves; their decline may be terminal. Nick Clegg has returned them to their situation under Clement Davies in the 1950s, and completely undone the efforts of Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy to make them into a major third party force (see this post for a wider analysis of the results for the Liberal Democrats in historical perspective). But this just might offer an opportunity for Labour to reclaim some of the previous centre ground, but this would take a major cultural shift in the party such as they have only taken previously under Blair (and would have done under Gaitskell had he survived) in times of desperation following successive defeats. I will always resent deeply much of Blair’s foreign policy, but still acknowledge that New Labour did make possible some genuinely progressive social policies on the home front (as much because of others around him as Blair himself) and made the UK into a more internationally-minded and European country than that to which it has slipped back since. To achieve what Labour achieved under Blair, at least in the first term, may be as much as Labour could hope for now. This would still be a good deal better than what we have now.
WARNING: Contains reproductions of anti-semitic material.
A major new report in today’s Mail (Guy Adams, ‘Child sex claims, a police ‘cover-up’ and troubling questions for a Labour peer: This special report reveals the full extent of the deeply disturbing allegations against ex-MP Greville Janner’, Daily Mail, October 4th, 2014) contains details of two very sensitive documents filed within the archives of late Labour MP Andrew Faulds. These concerned allegations against the then-MP for Leicester West, Greville Janner, who retired from the House of Commons in 1997 and now sits in the House of Lords as Baron Janner of Braunstone. Janner was named in the 1991 trial of Frank Beck by one witness as having abused him; Janner was not himself on trial and did not testify, and he was widely believed (including by many MPs) to have been unfairly smeared here.
I have previously posted a large collection of press reports from during the Beck trial and its aftermath, including many of the reactions of other politicians upon Janner’s return to Parliament. Various other reports relating to Janner have emerged during the course of the last year. Janner’s house was searched in December 2013, which was widely reported (See Sonia Elks, ‘Lord Janner’s home searched over historic child sex allegations’, The Times, December 20th, 2013, reproduced below; Lizzie Parry, ‘Police raid home of Labour Lord as part of historic sex abuse probe and spend two days searching his £600,000 apartment’, Daily Mail, December 20th, 2013; Paul Peachey, ‘Police investigating child abuse search peer Greville Janner’s home’, The Independent, December 20th, 2013; ‘Lord Greville Janner’s home searched as part of child sex investigations, say police’, Telegraph, December 20th, 2013). The Leicester Mercury reported in early May that the Crown Prosecution Service were considering evidence against Janner (‘Leicester peer Greville Janner in child abuse inquiry’, Leicester Mercury, May 3rd, 2014), then in June it was reported that Janner’s offices in the House of Lords had been searched as part of police investigations (‘Child abuse detectives search peer’s office’, The Times, June 23rd, 2014, reproduced below; Rebecca Camber, ‘Police raid offices in Parliament of Labour peer Lord Janner as part of inquiry in historic sex abuse claims’, Daily Mail, June 23rd, 2014).
Then in July, a report in the Mirror spoke of over 20 allegations of historic child sex abuse being made against an unnamed peer (including one by a man who was aged seven at the time), many relating to offences which took place in children’s homes, but reporting that the peer in question would not be interviewed or arrested as he had been declared unfit by two doctors (Tom Pettifor and Nick Sommerlad, ‘Labour peer escapes probe over 20 child sex claims because he is ‘suffering dementia”, Daily Mirror, July 9th, 2014). The peer in question was reported to have entertained the young people with magic tricks. These doctors should be identified and their reports made public. In August, Sean O’Neill in The Times revealed that there had been orders in 1991 not to arrest Janner, only interview him by appointment in his home (Sean O’Neill, ‘Police told not to arrest MP over abuse claims’, The Times, August 8th, 2014, reproduced below) – on this, see my earlier post on the subject, with details of David Gandy, who was the temporary Director of Public Prosecutions at the time, after Sir Allan Green had been arrested after being discovered kerb-crawling. Then in September, Chief Constable of Derbyshire Mike Creedon spoke of having been forbidden to arrest Janner after allegations first surfaced in 1989 (before the Beck trial, when Creedon was a Detective Sergeant) (Sean O’Neill, ‘Child sex inquiry into MP ‘was blocked’; Police ‘forbidden to make arrest’, The Times, September 25th, 2014, reproduced below; Chris Greenwood, ‘Police ‘told to limit abuse probe into MP”, Daily Mail, September 26th, 2014)
Here I am reproducing the two documents in the Faulds archives. I would urge much caution with these, as they clearly emerge from some far right sources and include various vicious anti-semitic claims. I stress here that I am in no sense endorsing their contents, and find the anti-semitic remarks (and such things as the red eyes on the cover of the booklet) obscene, and again urge scepticism because of their contents (it has been plausibly suggested to me that the picture of Janner with the ‘Scouting for Boys’ book has been doctored); however, as Faulds thought they were important enough to keep and file, then I think they should be made available. I have erased the name of the individual who made the allegations against Janner.
I am about to leave to join a vigil at 114 Grosvenor Avenue, Islington (beginning 1:45 pm) to commemorate the many who were abused within the Islington care system as a result of careless, foolish and incompetent policies during the time when Margaret Hodge, now Labour MP for Barking, was leader of Islington council. Amongst the speakers there will be Liz Davies, former social worker in Islington who blew the whistle on the abuse. We have heard much, rightly, about abuse and its cover-up from members of the Conservative Party, including major allegations against late former MPs Peter Morrison, Nicholas Fairbairn, Rhodes Boyson, and others, and wider allegations relating to the sinister events at Elm Guest House; also against former Liberal MP Cyril Smith, about whom pioneering Labour MP and campaigner Simon Danczuk wrote a book together with Matt Baker. But Labour have their own questions to answer as well: about Islington Council under Hodge’s tenure; about the relationship of current Deputy Leader Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Minister for Policing Jack Dromey MP, and former MP Patricia Hewitt during their time at the National Council for Civil Liberties when one section of this group’s activities were strongly influenced by the Paedophile Information Exchange, which seems to have been easily tolerated by these people (see also here and here) – there is definitely much more information to be revealed about this; about former MP and leadership contender Bryan Gould’s expression of support for PIE’s aims; about allegations of a Blair minister being involved in serious abuse in Lambeth and also (perhaps another minister) who was investigated as part of Operation Ore; about the activities of former Labour MP and Speaker of the House George Thomas aka Lord Tonypandy; about the role of local Labour politicians in allowing grooming gangs to abuse over 1400 girls in Rotherham (and perhaps in various other localities as well); and more generally about the extent to which many members of the liberal left tolerated, even encouraged, leading paedophile figures such as Peter Righton so long as they clothed their activities in the language of gay rights. Only when Ed Miliband and the Labour front bench declare their readiness to co-operate absolutely and look honestly and unflinchingly about what was known and what was covered up, will the Labour Party have any real credibility on this issue; otherwise they appear like a party prepared to look the other way in the face of some forms of abuse, only paying attention to those for which they can gain party political advantage.
Officers from Leicester police spent two days searching the 85-year-old former barrister’s £600,000 North London flat on Monday and Tuesday as part of a continuing investigation.
However, it is understood that the swoop was part of a historic child sex investigation dating back many years.
A spokesman said: “Leicestershire Police can confirm its officers executed a search warrant of a property in Barnet, London as part of an ongoing criminal inquiry.
“No arrests have been made at this stage.”
Lord Janner, who was made a life peer as Baron Janner of Braunstone in Leicester in 1997, is well known as the former chairman of British Jews and a prominent speaker on Jewish rights, who has been hailed for his efforts to see Holocaust victims receive compensation.
Builders working on a renovation next door to his home saw a number of police cars and officers at the address on Monday and Tuesday.
One said: “There were loads of police cars here on Monday and Tuesday.
“They were coming and going all day.
“I don’t know what happened, but they’ve been back quite often ever since.”
A young man, who identified himself as “Jameson” and claimed he was the peer’s personal spiritual healer said: “The Lord won’t come to the door.
“He is exhausted with all the stress of dealing with the police.
“He’s old and needs his rest. I don’t want to say any more.”
He served as an MP for 27 years for Leicester North West and then Leicester West until his retirement in 1997, when he was made a life peer.
The widowed peer says on his official website that his hobbies include autograph collections, glass and other antiquities, swimming, speaking his nine languages and his family.
It also says he is a member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
The Times, June 23rd, 2014
‘Child abuse detectives search peer’s office’
Police have searched the Westminster office of Lord Janner of Braunstone, the Labour peer, in connection with historical child sex abuse allegations. Leicestershire police confirmed that its officers had searched part of the House of Lords in March. They added that the former MP, 85, had not been arrested.
A spokeswoman said: “Leicestershire police can confirm that in March 2014 its officers carried out a search of part of the House of Lords in connection with an ongoing inquiry into non-recent child sexual abuse.
“A search warrant was obtained in advance from a crown court judge and the search was conducted in accordance with established House of Lords procedures, and monitored by senior officials from the House of www.Lords.No arrests or charges have been made, and inquiries continue.”
The search follows a raid of the peer’s home in north London, last year.
The father of three is a former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and has been active in efforts to get compensation for Holocaust victims. On his website, Lord Janner says that he speaks nine languages and is a member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
The Times, August 8th, 2014
Sean O’Neill, ‘Police told not to arrest MP over abuse claims’
Detectives investigating a Labour MP over child abuse allegations more than 20 years ago were stopped from arresting him, The Times has learnt.
Greville Janner, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, was interviewed by appointment in the company of his solicitor as part of a major investigation into the abuse of boys at homes in Leicestershire in 1991.
A number of sources with knowledge of the case have confirmed that officers had wanted to arrest the Leicester West MP, which would have given them the power to search his home and offices.
Legal advice was sought on taking the rare step of arresting an MP and it is understood that the advice from senior counsel was that it was an appropriate course of action. At the last minute the planned arrest was blocked.
Arrangements were made instead for Lord Janner to attend a police station by appointment with his solicitor, Sir David Napley.
The decision-making process is being re-examined by Leicestershire police as part of Operation Enamel, which is looking into allegations against Lord Janner and others.
Kelvyn Ashby, the retired officer who was senior investigator on the original case, confirmed that he was in contact with the Operation Enamel team but declined to comment further.
Police executed search warrants at Lord Janner’s home in Golders Green, north London, in December and at his office at the House of Lords in March. A partial file of evidence has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service, which is providing the police with “investigative advice”.
The peer, now 86 and said by friends to be in very poor health, has not been arrested. He has strongly denied the allegations against him in the past.
The new investigation into Lord Janner and others is one of dozens of historic abuse inquiries which come under the umbrella of Operation Hydrant, a nationwide steering group headed by senior police officers and set up to ensure consistent approaches to cases involving “persons of public prominence”.
A Leicestershire police spokesman said that the force was “investigating several complaints in relation to Operation Enamel – it is an inquiry into allegations of criminal conduct and all appropriate lines of inquiry will be progressed”.
Asked if the decision not to arrest Lord Janner was part of the new investigation, the spokesman said: “This is an operational matter, no further details will be disclosed.”
Lord Janner’s current solicitor did not respond to requests for comment, but in 1991 the MP for Leicester West told the House of Commons that there was “not a shred of truth” in the allegations made against him.
The Times, September 25th, 2014
Sean O’Neill, ‘Child sex inquiry into MP ‘was blocked’; Police ‘forbidden to make arrest”
An investigation into child abuse allegations against a prominent politician 25 years ago was blocked, one of the country’s most senior police officers has revealed.
Mick Creedon, chief constable of Derbyshire, told The Times that he was a detective sergeant in 1989 when he was ordered to limit his inquiries into Greville Janner, a leading Labour backbench MP. Mr Creedon said there was “credible evidence” against the MP, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, QC, that warranted further investigation, but he was given orders forbidding an arrest or a search of his home or offices.
“The decision was a clear one – he will be interviewed by appointment and there won’t be a search of his home address or his constituency office or his office in the House of Commons,” Mr Creedon said.
The order was “conveyed” by a superintendent but Mr Creedon believes it came from chief officers. He added: “It was a decision made by people more senior than me.”
The allegations against Lord Janner, 86, who was a senior Labour backbencher and president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, surfaced during the police investigation into Frank Beck, the manager of Leicester children’s homes who died in jail after being convicted of abusing boys in his care.
A former resident of one home alleged that he had had a two-year sexual relationship with the MP when he was a teenager in the 1970s. The alleged victim later aired the allegations in public when he gave evidence at Beck’s trial in 1991.
However, Mr Creedon said there were concerns about the credibility of the evidence against Lord Janner, notably that the key witness was in thrall to Beck despite being the victim of abuse.
The alleged victim also gave evidence for Beck. None of the other hundreds of residents interviewed made any allegations against the MP.
The witness had produced affectionate letters that were allegedly from the MP, some on House of Commons notepaper, and provided a detailed description of the inside of the MP’s Hampstead home. Mr Creedon said: “I look at this now, as a chief constable, as a senior investigating officer, in the light of many inquiries before and since – and one of the lines of inquiry could have been to search the house.
“My view has always been that the allegations were very serious, there was enough evidence to put a file before the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service], and as investigating officers our job was to search out as much evidence as possible to prove or disprove the offence. My interpretation of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act would be that under the circumstances it would have been justified to search the house [and] offices.”
He said he did not know who made the decision to limit the investigation.
The 1989-91 inquiry was limited to an interview at Leicestershire police headquarters during which Lord Janner gave “no comment” answers to detectives’ questions. A file was sent to the CPS, which decided there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.
When the allegations became public during Beck’s trial in 1991, the jury was told they were a “red herring” and not relevant to the case. Lord Janner later said there was “not a shred of truth” in the allegations against him.
Those allegations are central to a new police investigation into Lord Janner and others, called Operation Enamel, which has led to warrants being obtained to search the peer’s home in north London and his office in the House of Lords.
The peer, who is in poor health, has never been arrested and has not been interviewed by detectives from the new investigation. His lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.
1. Scotland made the right decision.
2. Labour under Ed Miliband is looking considerably weaker than before the referendum. Cameron probably ended up being a more persuasive advocate for the union than Miliband. Miliband has neither a ‘heartland’, a community who would identify with him, as did Wilson, Callaghan, Smith and Brown, nor the personality to build a wider English following, as did Blair. I do believe Sadiq Khan, Tom Watson (who has written an interesting response to the referendum) or Simon Danczuk would all make stronger leaders (if they would want the position).
3. Never have the Liberal Democrats looked more insignificant, despite the fact that they are the second largest party at Westminster representing Scottish seats.
4. Two people to have come out reasonably well from the campaign, and who have been underestimated, are Gordon Brown and George Galloway. Brown should attempt a come-back as First Minister of Scotland, and more widely his legacy should be re-assessed.
5. ‘Scottish workers have more in common with London dockers, Durham miners & Sheffield engineers than they have with Scottish barons & landlords’ – Scottish miners’ leader Mick McGahey in 1968 on Scottish separatism vs working class solidarity (as quoted = by Ken Livingstone).
6. I don’t see why the unemployed and those on low pay in devastated communities in the North of England – or in inner city London – are any less worthy of special treatment than the Scots. Trying to divide these communities on grounds of ‘nation’, as Salmond + co do, is cynical and pathetic.
7. The whole devo max package was a last minute panicked reaction to one poll showing the ‘Yes’ camp in the lead. Major legislation like this should not be rushed through without all the consequences being considered. This will now utterly dominate the legislative agenda up until the election, and will have a major effect upon the election itself.
8. The West Lothian question will not go away, nor should it. Labour are burying their heads in the sand over this, retreating to their comfort zone when they need more English votes to win an election. They could trump Cameron by giving a firm commitment to a German-style federal system, which would utterly transform British politics.
9. A new variety of the West Lothian question: why should those in Glasgow be able to be exempt from various aspects of policies determined in Westminster, but those in Newcastle not?
10. The borders between England, Scotland and Wales are pretty meaningless anyhow, as are most nation states. There is however some logic in the whole of Great Britain being a unified entity because of its geographical nature.
11. One of the worst elements of the campaign was the presenting of a Manichean struggle between ‘Scotland’ and ‘London’. London is simply the capital city, where MPs meet. Many Londoners are just as much the victim of successive governments’ policies as those in Scotland. In an independent Scotland, would it be any more fair to attack the people of Edinburgh, because Hollyrood is there? The article linked to earlier by Tom Watson makes much of the chasm between the City of London and Scotland – and the rest of the UK, and how that chasm was allowed to increase during the Thatcher years. But this is about capital and its concentration, not about Londoners in general. Hating people because they happen to come from or live in the most international city in Europe, London (I don’t come from the city originally, but have lived here for 21 years), is the worst type of politics.
On June 13th, 2014, Peter McKelvie – who was the source for Tom Watson’s October 2012 question on high-level abuse based upon evidence from the investigation into Peter Righton – wrote to his local MP Sir Tony Baldry MP (Conservative, North Oxfordshire). The letter was reproduced on Spotlight, and I reproduce it here:
Dear Sir Tony,
You will no doubt be aware of the growing clamour, now joined by a cross-party group of over 40 MPs, for an Independent Hillsborough type Inquiry in to decades of organised abuse by networks that have infiltrated both the care system and the boarding school institutions of this country.
These networks include politicians, both national and local, from all political parties as well as residential social workers,police officers, teachers, judges, civil servants to name but a few.
You will no doubt be aware of the PMQ yesterday, 11th June, by Duncan Hames, until recently PPS to the Deputy Prime Minister, in which Mr.Hames asked for the Prime Minister’s support for such an Inquiry but Mr. Cameron felt that the Home Office had the situation under control and no further measure was required.
I am the retired Child Protection Team Manager who approached MP, Tom Watson, in October 2012, as a result of which Mr. Watson also asked a PMQ, on 24th October 2012 which subsequently led to the setting up of Operation Fernbridge by the Metropolitan Police.
You may recall that the PMQ involved the allegation that an elite paedophile ring had a link with No.10.
As you will know Operation Fernbridge is ongoing and I receive regular feedback on the progress of that investigation.
I would like to ask for your support as my local MP for an Independent Inquiry and would like an appointment with you please to discuss my reasons in much more detail.
On a website called Spotlightonabuse:The Past on Trial you will see my Open Letter to David Cameron, with copies to Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband and also their responses.
I can forward you copies of all these documents at any point.
There are grounds to look closely at the behaviour of over 40 Members of the Commons and Lords, some living and some now dead, in connection with the actual abuse of very vulnerable children or with its cover up. This number is likely to grow during the course of a proper investigation.
I think the case against Cyril Smith and Peter Morrison is strong evidence of how easy it was for paedophiles to remain hidden within the corridors of power. Their cases are unfortunately the tip of the iceberg.
You are the ideal MP for me to approach not only because you are my constituent MP but because I understand that you are, according to your Wikipedia entry, “one of the last of those made a Minister by Margaret Thatcher still to be in the House of Commons”
The allegations I took to Tom Watson which resulted in the current Police investigations involve Mrs.Thatcher’s period as Prime Minister.
Many questions remain unanswered about a number of her key appointments and as her personal assistant in the 1974 General Election and, upon her becoming Leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, you joined her Private Office and so I must assume were very close to her and by definition some of the people I believe should be subject to an Independent Inquiry.
Your perspective could be extremely helpful.
The persistence of Mrs. Thatcher in pressing ahead with the Knighthood of Jimmy Savile despite opposition from her closest advisers, his alleged attendance at multiple private Chequers parties, his being granted the keys to Broadmoor in 1988, together with her appointment of Peter Morrison, a well known paedophile according to a number of fellow MPs, as her PPS raise many serious questions that need answering and only an Independent Inquiry on a Hillsborough based model will satisfy the electorate.
There are allegations against MPs of all parties under several different Governments and this is not a party political isue.
I can go in to much more detail in a face to face meeting but at this stage would ask for your support in joining the 40 plus MPs who have already pledged their support for an Independent Inquiry
Baldry sent a response to McKelvie, dated July 7th, 2014, and received today (July 9th), which is reproduced below:
Here is McKelvie’s reply sent today:
Dear Sir Tony
Thank you for your letter received today, by post on Wednesday 9th July 2014.
You state that you did not receive my letter via email.
I simply do not believe you. I have proof it was delivered.
Your reply to me is extremely rude, condescending and smacks of the arrogancy of a figure of the ruling classes that pays lip service to the electorate.
Let’s break down your reply.
1. I do not have a blog.
2. Your office would have received my email on 12th June 2014 ie 28 days ago
3. Why did the Banbury Guardian contact you to discuss an email you never received.
4. I note that you have taken the trouble to look at ” my blog ” ( I do not and never have had a blog ) on at least one occasion, but couldn’t reply to me until the 7th July, a significant date when you could sit back and think that your party had agreed entirely of it’s own volition to agree to a form of Independent Inquiry, and like the vast majority of your party’s MP’s could trot out the standard response.
5. ” You are clearly computer and email literate “. My family, friends and colleagues would find that very amusing.
I am of the generation, and a Luddite to boot, where IT skills have passed me by and am almost a one finger typist who wouldn’t know what an app was if it hit me in the face.
6. You state ” why if you didn’t get a response you didn’t subsequently get in touch to check I had received your email”.
I am actually computer literate enough to know if I send an email to the correct address and it isn’t returned undelivered with a failure message then I know it’s been received.
7. ” Indeed, given the seriousness of this issue I can’t imagine why you would think if I had received a letter or email from you that I wouldn’t want to respond straightaway “.
I assumed and I believe it to be the case with you, that you were one of the large majority of MP’s who failed to answer constituents letters re. the specific issues I raised with you, and were stalling and refusing to recognise the unprecedented surge of people power and anger until your leadership could instruct you on the party line, which in your case came remarkably on the very day that you decided to reply to me ie 7th July, when your hitherto resistant Government were forced in to a humiliating climbdown to agree to a shadow of the type of Inquiry that Survivors of child sexual abuse have been long demanding.
You enclose the Home Office Oral Statement Monday 7th July 2014 Child Abuse. I received a personal copy within an hour of it being released.
Your reply to someone who has campaigned for justice for survivors of child sexual abuse for over 30 years is as demeaning, insulting and condescending as the replies I have received for nearly 2 years from Mr. Cameron and the Home Office and shows the same level of disdain for a mere member of the public like myself as Mr. Norman Baker showed to me and a recognised child protection expert in a sham meeting with him earlier this year.
I refuse to believe that your office did not receive my email
I am attaching your letter for the attention of the people I am copying in to your reply
[Since first publishing this article online a number of further MPs have indicated their support for a national inquiry in line with the express wishes of the original seven. For details of this, and how to write to your MP to ask them to support, please see this post]
The pioneering news organisation Exaro have published two important articles today by David Hencke relating to a cross-party group of seven MPs who have written jointly to Home Secretary Theresa May called for a proper inquiry into child abuse, citing the Hillsborough inquiry as a model (see Hencke, ‘Police keep failing ‘to follow evidence’ in abuse cases, say MPs: Call for wide inquiry into ‘schools, churches, children’s homes, politicians and celebrities’, 3/6/14, and ‘MPs call on Theresa May to set inquiry into child sex abuse: Tim Loughton and Zac Goldsmith in cross-party group that highlights failures by police’, 3/6/14; see also Jason Beattie, ‘MPs demand inquiry into historic claims of child sex abuse by Cabinet Ministers’, Daily Mirror, 4/6/14).
The seven MPs in question (who Hencke has elsewhere called the ‘Magnificent Seven’) are:
Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, whose constituency contains Elm Guest House, Grafton Close Children’s Home, and Colet Court and St Paul’s Schools (Twitter @ZacGoldsmith ).
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham and former Children’s Commissioner, who spoke powerfully in the House of Commons in September 2013 about many ongoing revelations of abuse (Website here; Twitter @timloughton ).
John Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, who made representations on behalf of financial journalist Leah McGrath Goodman on the grounds of her being banned from the UK following investigation into child abuse at Haut de la Garenne, Jersey, but has also been critical of UK family courts when dealing with allegations of abuse against parents. (Website here; Twitter @johnhemmingmp )
Tessa Munt, MP for Wells, who as a member of the Education Select Committee has taken a special interest in child safeguarding, and whose constituency contains Wells Cathedral School, one of the five specialist music schools, all of which have been connected to abuse (Website here; Twitter @tessamunt )
Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, who has been indefatigable in his commitment to this issue ever since raising in Westminster in October 2012 the issues of a high-level paedophile ring (see Watson’s blog and articles here and many other places online; Twitter @tom_watson ).
Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, co-author with Matthew Baker of Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith (London: Biteback, 2014), who has written of how Smith was connected to Peter Righton and also a wider paedophile ring including prominent politicians (see this article by Watson in praise of Danczuk) (Website here, Twitter @simondanczuk )
These seven MPs are concerned about how important files, surveillance videos and other material have gone missing, lack of charges brought as a result of Operation Fernbridge, and in general an apparent reluctance on the part of the police and others to pursue cases of serious abuse. Watson has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions naming a former cabinet minister alleged to have raped a woman going by the name of ‘Jane’ (see also the detailed five-part account linked to at the bottom of this article and the video interview with ‘Jane’); this is the same senior cabinet minister who has been linked to the VIP paedophile ring related to Elm Guest House (as confirmed by Mark Watts on Twitter on 18/5/14). The Metropolitan Police have chosen not to pursue Jane’s allegations further, nor even interview the alleged perpetrator, raising serious questions about whether proper procedure has been followed; Exaro have also claimed that there was a shocking concerted police smear campaign aimed at discrediting ‘Jane’. Furthermore, there are serious questions about the whereabouts of a series of documents submitted to the Home Office by the late Geoffrey Dickens MP (see here, here and here), one of the few MPs who continued to pursue this issue in the 1980s. Loughton has spoken of his alarm at consistent ‘reluctance, or more worryingly, the seeming complicity of police and other agencies to investigate the allegations seriously, and pursue the perpetrators rigorously’, and how ‘Documents go missing and investigations are curtailed with a chilling frequency, and that now threatens a serious undermining of the public’s confidence in our current child-protection system despite all the progress that has undoubtedly been made in recent years’.
The range of areas of public life in which there have been major allegations of abuse is frighteningly large: these include children’s homes in Islington (see also here and this article by whistleblower Liz Davies), Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Haute de la Garenne in Jersey, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk, Staffordshire (the ‘Pindown’ scandal) Birmingham, Leicestershire, North Wales, South Wales, Cheshire, Leeds, Sunderland, Northumberland, Lothian, Renfrewshire, Isle of Lewis, the Kincora Boy’s Home in Belfast, Stockgrove Park School, Buckinghamshire, Stanbridge Earls School near Romsey, Hampshire, New Barns School, Gloucestershire, Castle Hill School, Shropshire, St George’s School, Suffolk, Knowl View School in Rochdale, in Cleveland, many of the leading public schools (see also the range of articles here), the Catholic Church, not least in Scottish abbeys, the Church of England, the entertainment industry (not least involving Jimmy Savile), grooming gangs in the North West and Oxford, music education, a ring around Piccadilly Circus, major networks trading images of child abuse, and more. Some of these cases have been investigated, with some prosecutions, but there is good reason to believe some of these investigations have been half-hearted, whilst other cases have simply been ignored. There are many individuals linked to multiple networks (not least the sinister figure of Peter Righton), continuing talk of the VIP paedophile ring connected to Elm Guest House and elsewhere, major information concerning late MPs Cyril Smith and Peter Morrison and serious allegations about others who are living (not least the severe claim that a Blair era cabinet minister was being investigated for abusing children in a home in Lambeth, leading to a detective being taken off the case, and even that a council official looking to expose a ring involving the minister was murdered). The activities of members of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), about whom I have blogged in detail, remain shady, and there are many suggestions that this organisation might be linked to a great number of cases of abuse. Furthermore, it is now clear that PIE had deep links to the Home Office, receiving large amounts of money from the organisation, with at least three members working on its premises (with a phone line there), its magazine printed there, and some civil servants receiving images of child abuse delivered to the building!
It is heartening to see such a diverse cross-party group of MPs coming together on this issue. Yet it is more than a little disappointing that there are not more, and that the most senior politicians in all the major parties do not appear to be taking seriously what can only be called an epidemic (if even less than half of the allegations were true). I would urge everyone reading this to write to their own MP and implore them to support the seven courageous figures above (any of whom I would gladly vote for). I have earlier blogged on the need for Ed Miliband, the leader of the party to which I belong (Labour), to put all of his weight behind calls for a proper inquiry, but also how there is near-silence from the upper echelons of Labour, perhaps related to the fact that senior Labour politicians are under investigation and also that the current Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, has been linked to PIE during her time as Legal Officer at the NCCL, during which period NCCL took out an advert in PIE’s journal Magpie and also their policy on images of children reflects aspects of PIE thinking. But this should not be stopping Miliband, nor should worries about the former Thatcher era cabinet minister, and Peter Morrison and others, be stopping David Cameron (and in light of revelations about Cyril Smith, Nick Clegg should be firmly behind this).
Leading experts, researchers and campaigners on child abuse Peter McKelvie and Liz Davies met recently with Home Office minister Norman Baker. They were granted a mere ten minutes of time, despite having built up huge bodies of evidence about child abuse, but it was made clear that there was no intention to undertake either a national police investigation (absolutely necessary because so many complex cases are interlinked) nor a public inquiry. I would urge people to read the account above. Nonetheless, I have been informed that both individuals spoke very highly of Zac Goldsmith’s commitment to the issues in particular.
The media have reported much about the relatively small number of cases coming to court as a result of Operation Yewtree. But these are just a tiny fraction of the wider allegations of serious and sustained abuse (and non-sexual abuse should not be treated any less seriously). All credit to these seven MPs, but as for the others – if our MPs do not care about protecting children in the most vulnerable situations, what do they care about?