Notes From the Margins…

Sleaze Britannia

  • January 02, 2015
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We British often like to peer into the bedrooms of dictators.   When dictatorships fall we have almost come to expect a torrent of sleaze to come pouring out of their bedrooms, the wilder and more depraved the better.     We like to imagine fallen tyrants as if they were characters in a de Sade novel; decadent libertines locked away in some castle where they are able to pursue their morbid desires unchecked by legality or morality.

Stories of rape, the sexual abuse of children and minors, whether real or invented,   confirm certain regimes as fundamentally evil and rotten to the core.   Thus it seems logical that Stalin’s vile NKVD chief Lavrenti Beria was a sexual predator who used to cruise Moscow looking for young girls to rape; that the elderly Mao used to have young virgins brought to his bedroom because he believed it would made him live longer; or that Kim Il Sung established a ‘pleasure brigade’ of young women for the same reason;   that Idi Amin had sex with his sister, that Ceaucescu’s son Niku supposedly had a ‘rape room’ etc, etc

The list is endless, and endlessly salacious.     Such depravity can easily appear to be   some kind of inevitable consequence of dictatorship,  as the abuse of power in the bedroom were symptomatic of wider political tyranny, or so we like to imagine.

Once upon a time we assumed that powerful men could not get away with such things in our country because   a) we live in a democracy and our system has checks and balances that limit the abuse of power both publicly and in private and b) we British are inherently nicer than other people and so are our leaders c) British sexual life is all jolly Carry On   and picture postcard stuff of the kind that Orwell liked, with redfaced men in seaside postcards, Sid James’s wink, three-in-a-bed ‘romps’ with vicars etc, etc.

Recent events are rapidly disabusing us of this illusion.     We now know that the necrophiliac knight and child rapist Sir James Savile was able to get away with some of the vilest sexual crimes in British history, with the active complicity of the police, hospital executives, politicians,   BBC big shots and many other members of the great and good, all of whom chose to look away or did not reveal what they knew.

We know this generically, but not specifically, because the extent of this collusion has yet to be revealed and much of it has already been swept under the carpet, and so has the network of power that nurtured and protected Savile   Accountability has been reduced to removing him from Top of the Pops reruns in an attempt to erase the former national treasure from public consciousness as comprehensively as Stalin once removed Trotsky from photographs of Lenin.

And then there is the small matter of a paedophile network at Westminister involving leading politicians, who according to two former Scotland Yard officers, were considered ‘untouchable.’     If the allegations that have surfaced so far are true, then these politicians were part of a network that forced young children from care homes to take part in sex orgies, in which at least two boys may have been murdered.

Lavrenti Beria should eat his rotten heart out, because he obviously didn’t need the NKVD.   Not with a government that mysteriously seems to have destroyed or lost a crucial dossier which might have shed light on these events.   Or a prime minister like Margaret Thatcher, who once told one of her ministers to ‘clean up his sexual act’ because he was having sex with children from care homes, and did nothing when he didn’t ‘clean it up.’ Or a government like the one we have now, which appears to be intent on doing everything it can to sabotage any attempt to carry out a full investigation into these events, probably because so many Tory politicians may have been involved in them.

And not only politicians.   There are also the ‘celebrities’ whose names continue to crop up in connection with the Elm Street guest house.   There are the M15 officers who appear to have used abused boys at the Kincora Boys Home in Belfast as ‘bait’ in an intelligence operation during the ‘dirty war’ in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.  According to the  Telegraph,   these officers colluded with a paedophile network based round the home which may have included ‘prominent people, both here and in the UK. It has been claimed that the security services were prepared to blackmail key figures as a means of controlling elements within loyalism and unionism as the Troubles flared.’

Nice.     But the government ensured last year that the public won’t find out about that either,   by excluding Kincora from its ongoing institutional abuse inquiry last year.     When it comes to rape and sexual abuse, certain individuals and institutions are just too big to fail.         Take our own Prince Andrew.     A Florida lawsuit against banker/paedophile/pimp Jeffrey Epstein contains a statement by one of his underaged victims accusing HRH of forcibly having sex with her, in an arrangement supposedly facilitated by Epstein and Robert Maxwell’s daughter.

What wonderful lives these people lead.   Now of course we know that Andrew has royal blood and that no one called the Duke of York would possibly have behaved like this.   But even if he did,     he was only doing what certain men who are rich and/or powerful enough feel themselves entitled to do.

Because for some men, power will always bring a license to have sex with whoever they want and regardless of whether the objects of their desire have any say in the matter.   And it also brings impunity, whether their power stems from dictatorship or the corruptions of elite democracies that allow certain categories of people to behave according to an entirely different set of standards to everyone else.

And the result, in this country, is a tottering mountain of sleaze that too many people would like to ignore or bury somewhere underground.

We should do everything we can to see that they don’t succeed, and not only for the victims of their crimes, because a society that allows the wealthy and the powerful to get away with rape, sexual abuse of children and even murder is  a society without justice,  and a political and moral travesty that shames us all.


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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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