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There has been a lot of talk recently about Boris Johnson’s baseless assertion that the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, protected the notorious pedophile Jimmy Savile. Johnson’s top policy aide, Munira Mirza, resigned in protest:
I believe it was wrong for you to imply this week that Keir Starmer was personally responsible for allowing Jimmy Savile to escape justice. There was no fair or reasonable basis for that assertion. This was not the usual cut and thrust of politics; it was an inappropriate and partisan reference to a horrendous case of child sex abuse. You tried to clarify your position today but, despite my urging, you did not apologise for the misleading impression you gave.
Yesterday, Starmer was hounded off the street by a mob shouting about Jimmy Savile on his way to Parliament, and had to be rescued by police.
The Far Right loves its pedophile conspiracies. But they have a very short memory when they choose to pin the blame purely on left-of-centre politicians.
For example, the darling of the Right Margaret Thatcher lobbied for Savile knighthood despite warnings, and was told
The case of Jimmy Savile is difficult. Mr Savile is a strange and complex man. He deserves high praise for the lead he offers in giving quiet background help to the sick. But he has made no attempt to deny the accounts in the press about his private life.
As Prime Minister, Thatcher always invited him to her retreat at Chequers on Boxing Day. She finally got him knighted after her fifth attempt, in her final Honours List.
Of course, Savile was a friend of many high-profile people of all political stripes (although rumours were well-known; even as an aspiring teenage actor in Birmingham in the 80s, older friends in the business jokingly warned me about Savile.) She obviously wouldn’t have been so close to him if she knew the truth… would she?
We now know that Mrs Thatcher was told that Liberal MP Cyril Smith was investigated for “indecent assault against teenage boys”, but he was nevertheless knighted in 1988 when she was Prime Minister.
And again! Thatcher personally supported Peter Morrison, her private secretary, who had an alleged “penchant for small boys”
And again! Thatcher stopped Peter Hayman being named as paedophile-link civil servant, a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange group, who sent indecent material to others by post and had sexual fantasies about children, even after she had been fully briefed on his activities.
Let us remember Liz Truss’ moving tribute to Savile:
Of course, that was before everyone knew what Savile had done. Much more recently, in 2019, Boris Johnson himself believed that historic pedophila is not worth investigating. He said police money is ‘spaffed up a wall’ when spent on historic child sex abuse investigations, so presumably pedophiles should be allowed to get away with it once they’ve stopped.
It seems that the further to the Right someone is, the more they are apologists for kiddy-fiddlers. For example, Poundshop Fuhrer “Tommy Robinson” loves to whip up hatred of muslims by campaigning against “grooming gangs”, yet had no qualms about supporting Richard Price, a leader of the English Defence League, even after he was convicted of making indecent images of children. The EDL has many pedophiles in its ranks.
I don’t think that accusing each other of excusing Savile or other pedophiles is part of the cut and thrust of politics, and it does a disservice to victims of sexual abuse. But if you’re going to engage in it, at least get your facts straight.
Update 14 April 2022: Also, let us not forget Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan, found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old, and former Tory justice minister Crispin Blunt who called Khan’s conviction “a stain on our reputation for justice” and said “I hope for the return of Imran Ahmad Khan to the public service that has exemplified his life to date.”