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November 09, 2012


Dan Hardie

It goes against the grain to defend David Cameron- oh, does it ever- but on this one topic I will. As you'll see if you google for the names of UK politicians being accused of paedophilia, there are about eight Tories and slightly fewer Labour figures being screamed about.

At least five of the Tories, and two of the Labour names, are of men about whom 'closet gay' rumours were circulated for a long time. Furthermore, for at least one Tory and one Labour name, those rumours were eventually admitted to be true.

Since I don't think that every single name on the 'internet list' was a paedophile- and quite possibly, none of them are- it seems at least likely that part of what is happening is that politicians who were suspected of, being gay back in the '80s and '90s at the same time attracted rumours of paedophilia.

Remember, the '80s and early '90s were not good times to be openly gay in politics- Chris Smith was the first and for a long time the only openly gay MP, amazing as it now seems. It would be a very good smear to accuse someone who's already hiding his (lawful) homosexuality of also hiding his paedophilia, not least because a lot of people would be willing to believe something like 'all gays are nonces'.

For example, one of the sources for these rumours is Simon Regan's shortlived 'Scallywag' magazine, which in the '90s did 'out' various Tory Ministers, with varying degrees of accuracy, and also accused those Ministers of paedophilia. There are a lot of things going on here. As with Savile- it's quite possible that one of those things is 'powerful man or men getting away with protracted child sex abuse'.

But I think that in at least some cases, it may well be a case of someone back in the '80s starting a rumour along the lines of 'he's a poof, and we all know what they are like with kiddies'- and now that is behind at least some of the internet swamp fever.


Dan: I encountered actual Scallywag content investigating this, and I was very much not impressed. The nudge-nudge-wink-wink-is-he-a-gayer is heavy. I have the impression they got lucky in discovering John Major's mistress, and worse, didn't even think there might be more where that came from, as we now know.

And if you remember Paul Staines x Mark Oaten, the culture of gay = paedo is alive and well in the torysphere.

Staines's comments are full of people smearing Chris Smith, Peter Mandelson, George Robertson, Donald Dewar, Gordon Brown, Tom Watson, Michael Portillo, Leon Brittan, and Kenneth Clarke. Literally none of these people have any of the attributes the suspect is meant to have. Half aren't in the right party. Out of those, they're not in the Lords, weren't No.10 staffers, don't have anything to do with North Wales.

In Smith, Portillo, and Mandelson's cases, it's obviously homophobia (with a kicker of antisemitism and partisanship for Mandelson). In Clarke, Watson, Brown, and Dewar's cases, it's obviously just mob violence towards someone they hate for other reasons. Robertson is a pre-existing hate of the civilian gun nut tendency because he took their guns away and comes from near Dunblane. In Brittan's case I presume they think he's gay, and also he was a European Commissioner and they can't spell "Tugendhat".

I do think the witch-hunt is now about to transition into the cover-up, though.

Chris williams

Dunno bout you lot, but I'm at a seminar in UCL in Belgium and I've just told my criminology mates there that all of them who've studied the Detroux scandal and the White Marches should run, not walk, to UK news feeds to tell us what's going on here.


How's your Flemish, dude? Want to post some gleanings?

heard the Leon Brittan stuff in the eighties & put it down to antisemitism on the Monday club axis. Some continuity there I guess.


At the risk of opening yet another conversation on the sizzle not the steak, can I just say, all in all, I'm really struggling to see how Newsnight can survive. Tonight's programme was surreal.

Dan Hardie

I know it's Jamie's comment thread, but I would suggest that we don't name people, even if we are saying these are scurrilous, untrue rumours. It's Jamie's decision, but the rest of us should respect whatever he decides on this.

Other than that: yes, Scallyway was obviously pretty horrible. And it was specifically closed down because of its 'X and Y are paedos' allegations against certain senior Tories. Staines's really nasty stuff is clearly in the same tradition. Which doesn't stop a lot of internet geniuses taking it all as gospel.


I'm really struggling to see how Newsnight can survive.

Which is kind of ridiculous. The amount of freedom they have given to Paul Mason to do a different kind of TV journalism has been really admirable. Shouldn't be rare, but it is.

Don't destroy Newsnight before you know what you're going to replace it with. Couldn't they just take it off for a week for everyone to calm down?

dick gregory

If a leading Tory really were a paedophile, but was living, rich and inclined to sue, would we not see exactly the same apologies as has occurred with this false story? Perhaps there is a lesson here not to create a grand historical narrative only out of what it is acceptable to report in the public sphere, or to blame news programmes when they can't keep up with which rules they have to keep sacred:Always Expose The Wrong or Never Say What You Can't Prove.


Which is kind of ridiculous

Well, the beeb is in some megaclusterfuck where Leveson fallout and Murdoch/Tory revenge is slowly merging into the child abuse issue.

Entwistle was pathetic on Today this morning. Fatty Pang must surely be mulling over whether there's a point where he throws his new D-G overboard. I expect Entwistle is similarly considering, if only as a pre-emptive measure of self preservation, whether his captaincy of the ship can be stabilised by ditching Newsnight.

As long as it's genuine stars - Mason, Urban, Watts and McKean - are given new jobs commensurate to their talents I don't think the loss of the programme itself would be a disaster. It had become tired and lazy even before the Savile stuff blew up in its face.


As long as it's genuine stars...are given new jobs commensurate to their talents I don't think the loss of the programme itself would be a disaster.

Agreed, Charlie. But I think the issue is that Murdoch/Tory revenge is about getting rid of Newsnight and the very concept that anything on the telly can be different from what Sky/Fox pumps out, and they don't care how they do it. I just think never give those people what they want on a plate.



1 Some sections of the press are obviously very worried about what Brian Leveson is going to recommend

2 There is probably a "cover-up of child abuse" story struggling to get out

3 Misdirection only works for a limited time.

Igor Belanov

I do think that it's worrying that this affair could see the end of a useful source of current affairs reporting, as well as the weakening of traditions of genuine investigative journalism. That said, it seems bizarre to me that the BBC should have aired claims relating to a specific, but unnamed, figure without properly checking that the identification was genuine, or that they didn't realise that mentioning a 'senior Conservative from the 1980s' would start all sorts of distasteful rumour-mills going into overdrive. I can only put it down to a ridiculous knee-jerk reaction to the S****e affair.

Dan Hardie

A journalist I know who works for 'Private Eye' told me that Messham made exactly the same allegations to them about McAlpine almost twenty years ago, and they decided not to run it because the story didn't stand up, and Messham himself, poor man, was clearly deeply traumatised but also completely unreliable. This guy says he can't believe that nobody on 'Newsnight' came to the same conclusions as 'Private Eye'.

Apparently, 'Newsnight' also ran the North Wales story knowing that Alistair McAlpine was the man Messham was accusing(although they avoided using his name), but without contacting McAlpine directly for a response. Which really is the kind of blunder that gets covered in day one, lesson one of a course in libel law for journalists. You don't run serious allegations against someone without giving them a chance to respond, and perhaps deny them.

It's unbelievable that 'Newsnight' thought 'this can't be libellous because we haven't actually named McAlpine', but then I can't see what else they might have been thinking. If this gets to court the BBC has no defence at all. I think the only reason it might not get to court is that McAlpine is old and apparently very ill.

And I always hated the man, as not only a close aide of Margaret Thatcher, but also the character who maximised the Tory Party's campaigning funds from expat millionaires. But nobody deserves to be treated this way in the last years of their life, and nobody deserves a 'paedo' smear based on the fact that they were a closet gay in the 1980s.


FWIW, the received wisdom in the fashionable coffee shops (alright, pubs) and staffroom lounges of North Wales in the 80s and 90s was that the Bryn Estyn inquiry was largely a put-up job, aimed at exaggerating the true extent of the abuse in order to smear some local care-workers who had made the grave mistake of being local Labour Party activists and trying to get into local government without first becoming Freemasons. (This definitely was a thing. Picture a kind of "Red Riding" meets "Pobol y Cwm" and you're about right). This was around the time of the Cleveland scandal though so I doubt the gossip was particularly well informed.


Tom Watson: "I wasn't talking about North Wales."

dick gregory

Not quite the De'ath of nominative determinism


Entwistle was pathetic on Today this morning. Fatty Pang must surely be mulling over whether there's a point where he throws his new D-G overboard.

Nicely done, CMcM. Mistah Entwistle, he gone.


Now Peston says his bosses are forming a circular firing squad.

From my twitterfeed: BBC news reports that head of BBC news resigns over BBC news failings to deal with BBC news noun verb BBC news adjective verb BBC news

All this equals a feeding frenzy for the scum press + questions of abuse falling further & further away from spotlight. Perhaps the article jamie linked to in the first place was bang on the button: a Tuckeresque distraction of the first order is now in play.


Well, it's OK for Murdoch - discrediting the BBC is good commercially - but I bet that Brooks and her accomplices would much rather be reading about the exposure of Alan Rusbridger's involvement in genocide or something along those lines.

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