Healthy lifestyle: What a shame Mr Newmark had his back turned to the words that could have helped him.
Isn’t it disappointing that the Minister for Civil Society has resigned after admitting he indulged in some spectacularly un-civil – in fact downright explicit – behaviour towards a young lady (who turned out to be an undercover newspaper reporter – and a man)?
Brooks Newmark, whose ministerial responsibilities include overseeing charities such as the Girl Guides movement, apparently started a dialogue with a reporter he believed to be a young female activist, in the course of which he transmitted an image of himself that revealed more than propriety permits.
We’re told he co-founded an organisation called Women2Win and has been an outspoken campaigner for women in politics – which seems like a lot of effort in order to indulge in this kind of behaviour.
But Mr Newmark is also on record as saying, “We really want to try and keep charities and voluntary groups out of the realms of politics… The important thing charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting.” He seems to be quite confused and it is probably just as well that he will now be able to spend more time pulling himself together.
Back in the 1980s and 90s, it seemed as though the Conservative Party had a major legover crisis every five minutes. Who can forget Cecil Parkinson’s resignation? Or how about David Mellor and his possibly-imaginary Chelsea strip (look it up if you don’t remember it)?
This is a pale imitation – an attempt at a legover crisis, and a poor attempt, at that.
Still, it has provoked a certain amount of hilarity. Tom Pride, in inimitable style, seized on the moment with the following satirical words: “A spokesperson for Number 10 said Mr Newmark’s boo-boo was clearly much too inconsequential to be of major concern:
“’The Prime Minister has seen the pictures and is assured that Mr Newmark’s folly is tiny. In fact his howler is so miniscule, negligible and trifling, it’s hardly worth mentioning at all.’
“Not long after the story broke, Mr Newmark took to Twitter to defend his bungle against accusations it is small:
“’I completely deny accusations that my howler is tiny. In fact my pickle’s actually quite a big one – certainly just as big as all the other Tory MP’s gaffes we’ve seen over the years.’“
If only that were true.
It should be stressed that the use of a reporter in disguise who seems to have encouraged Mr Newmark to reveal his… indiscretion… is morally reprehensible in itself. Would he have desported himself in such a way without inducement?
Nevertheless, this piece of tattle has heaped more embarrassment on David Cameron, right on the eve of the Conservative Party conference.
This was going to be the conference where the Tories were going to state the case for their re-election, claiming they are perfectly fit to steer the ship of state on their own, without the Liberal Democrats and their pitiful attempts to behave like the political equivalent of bicycle stabilisers (if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor).
Instead, with two Conservative MPs having defected to UKIP and more likely to follow, with a ministerial resignation due to improper behaviour, with outrage from the Queen at his own indiscretion about a telephone conversation with her, with much of Scotland on the verge of open rebellion in the belief that he lied about giving that country’s Parliament new powers, and with the rest of the UK incredulous at his claims the the economy is recovering fast when their wages are plummeting…
It suddenly seems entirely possible that Mr Cameron will be the only person there.
Scene of the – er – indiscretions: The Light ApartHotel in Manchester. [Image: Sunday Mirror.]
The Party of Sleaze shoots itself in the foot yet again.
It seems the Conservative Party has been keeping documentary evidence of Tory MPs’ indiscretions, crimes and bad behaviour in a “black book” (actually a blue folder), but this has now been destroyed for fear that the Party might be forced to reveal its contents under the Freedom of Information Act.
The information in the “book”, which was destroyed a little more than four years ago as the Tories prepared for the 2010 general election, was used by party whips – its official title was “Whips’ Notes” – if they needed to persuade a colleague to support legislation they opposed, or a minister under fire.
Sources within the Conservative Party say this persuasion did not go as far as blackmail – although you are perfectly entitled to form your own opinion about this, dear reader.
The book’s existence was revealed by the Sunday Mirror, which also carried details of several more ‘sleaze’ scandals, including allegations that:
Taxpayers indirectly funded a £2,500 suite in the Light ApartHotel, used for a gay sex party during the Conservative Party’s 2011 conference in Manchester.
Senior Conservatives regularly tried to seduce male parliamentary workers after getting drunk at the House of Commons.
MPs and peers used ‘date rape’ drugs on junior activists, and paid for abortions after getting their staff pregnant.
The claims are eerily reminiscent of sleaze scandals from the Conservative Parliaments of 1979-1997, in which Cecil Parkinson was forced to resign after impregnating his secretary; David Mellor’s extra-curricular sporting activities with Antonia de Sancha; and sex scandals involving Tim Yeo and the Earl of Caithness.
The headline of this article is based on a song and is intended to evoke comparisons between ‘love and marriage’ and ‘Tories and scandal’.
To close, let’s remember another well-known saying and conclude that if a leopard cannot change its spots, neither can a Tory resist sleaze.
Vox Political has no ‘black book’ and cannot rely on ‘persuasion’ to pay its way! This independent blog’s only funding comes from readers’ contributions. Without YOUR help, we cannot keep going. You can make a one-off donation here:
Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book, Strong Words and Hard Times in either print or eBook format here:
The text states: “Don’t be an accomplice. Denounce child abuse.” It doesn’t say “… unless you think it’s being done by a Conservative”.
The British public are not as stupid as some of our so-called ‘leaders’ would like to think.
Despite the best efforts of people like David Mellor, the editors and writers at the Mail on Sunday, and I’ll even include David Cameron (because I find it suspicious how quickly attempts were made to discredit the allegations after his This Morning interview), it seems most people have rejected their claims that child abuse victim Steve Messham is a lone crank.
We believe him. Somebody sexually abused him, and he had reason to believe it was a particular person with Conservative connections.
But the attempt to cover up his case may still succeed, because child abuse is now toxic to the BBC, and other reporters will hesitate to report it for fear they’ll get the same treatment as the Corporation.
Possible abusers from other walks of life and other political parties are still fair game, I notice, leading to the possibility that followers of the news will get an unbalanced view that the other parties are full of abusers and the Conservatives are not. That, I think, is dangerous, especially when it comes to elections.
There is no doubt that the BBC has been seriously harmed by the Newsnight child abuse story – even though it never named any suspects and Mr Messham’s claim that a person with Conservative connections was involved may yet prove accurate. But the most harmful aspect of this is that attention has been diverted away from an investigation into child abuse. And we all know it.
On Twitter, ‘Mrs VB’ pointed out that it was “utterly depressing to see the BBC headlines all about the bloody BBC rather than the widescale abuse of children in the care system.”
Columnist Owen Jones agreed: “Newsnight screwed up, but children who were raped have been forgotten. It is a disgrace.”
It IS a disgrace. But not one that has gone unnoticed. The ‘Comment’ column attached to the Mail on Sunday‘s smear job against Mr Messham showed clearly that the public are not going to put up with this nonsense.
‘Loraine’ wrote: “If I was asked to talk about tiny details of a long time ago, my memory would not be so accurate either. If there was only one victim claiming all kinds of things, then so be it. BUT there isn’t, IS THERE!!! A deeply horrible thing happened to this man when he was a vulnerable child; I’m not at all suprised if there may be residual issues. And your attempt to darken his character by claiming criminal allegations against him, [of] which by the way he was acquitted, as mentioned in this article, beggars belief.”
‘Belinda’ added: “No wonder abuse and rape victims dont come forward – they are all terrified this is what will happen to them; they will be called liars. You should be ashamed, Daily Mail; you are contributing to helping his abusers avoid justice.”
‘Null’ commented: “Stephen Messham has NOTHING to apologise for; it is truly shocking the way this poor man is being vilified and yet again unable to defend himself. He never mentioned Lord McAlpine. Newsnight never mentioned Lord McAlpine. This is a predictable cover up.”
And someone calling themselves ‘p2244a’ summed the situation up ver well: “Journalists need to stop playing with this person’s mind. Heartless cowards who will not listen to anyone who was abused because it is too ‘dirty’ to talk about.
“Mistaken identity of the photo caused the problem when the person, holding the photo for Mr Messham to see, wrongly named the man! Mr Messham thought the person who abused him was DEAD!”
Gerard Elias QC: “Does the name McAlpine mean anything to you.”
Steven Messham: “Yes, sir.”
Elias: “In what context?”
Messham: “I was also abused by him sexually.”
Sir Ronald Waterhouse: “Is the person you referred to alive or dead?”
Messham: “I believe he is dead.”
This article also suggests that the ‘David Rose’ who co-wrote the Mail on Sunday smear piece is a former MI5 agent. The plot thickens…
It adds: “The Waterhouse report contains Steven Messham’s statement to the police. In it, Steven testified that his abuser ‘had several cars and a chauffeur.’
“The abusers would wait for Steven Messham at the bottom of a lane near Bryn Estyn children’s home when Steven had a late pass from the home. Messham was then abused in the car in a lay-by, and at the Crest Hotel in Wrexham.
“Local Welsh councillor Keith Gregory has testified that boys from Bryn Estyn would be taken to the homes of two McAlpine family members in the area – Gerwyn Hall and Marchwiel Hall, both a few miles from Wrexham town centre. Gerwyn Hall was occupied by Jimmie McAlpine, who died in 1991. Marchwiel Hall was the home of Jimmie’s sister.
“Jimmie McAlpine’s ID fits to the letter, with his chauffeurs, his massive car collection, the house where he lived, the hotel he frequented, and the golf club membership he shared at the time with the two leaders at Bryn Estyn, both of whom went to jail on multiple charges of buggery.”
So there you are. It is possible that Mr Messham was abused by a now-deceased member of the McAlpine family. I feel comfortable in suggesting this as it is impossible to libel the dead (note the current attack on Cyril Smith).
So why have we been told that he is a crank? That his allegations are the false ramblings of an unhinged mind? That (by implication) there are no paedophiles among the Conservatives and that the party does not need to be investigated?
Sonia Poulton, writing in the Express, tells us she has compiled a list of 132 “utterly shameless” Establishment child abusers, including MPs, lords and local councillors, and that “a similar list” exists for police officers.
“I don’t believe these lists are complete,” she writes. “This is not conjecture or media gossip but people, primarily men, who have been prosecuted for child sex offences throughout the UK.
“Many of these abusers still represent constituents and are ‘serving the public’. At the very least we should know who they are, where they are and if their public decisions are influenced by the greater good or their own twisted perversions.”
Meanwhile, attempts are being made to tranquillise us by making us think that child abuse investigations are still taking place and getting results – so we hear that a former primary school headmaster has been jailed for 15 years after he was convicted of raping and indecently assaulting an under-age girl. Malcolm Ford, 66, committed the offences more than 20 years ago, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
Fair enough, but he was not a politician.
And there have been allegations against the late Liberal MP, Cyril Smith. Like Jimmy Savile (and the member of the McAlpine family that Mr Messham accused), he is dead, so it is safe to make the claim publicly.
Fair enough, but he was not a Conservative.
The situation with Mr Messham reminds me of one I underwent with the police a few years ago. I made an allegation and backed it up by quoting the relevant section of the relevant law. The response I got back quoted a completely different section of the same legislation in order to reject what I was saying. Despite my protestations, they stuck to their (erroneous) guns and I was eventually told I would need to seek a judicial review if I wanted to take it any further. I don’t have any money, so that was the end of that.
Here we have a man who made an allegation against another man (now dead) – but opportunists have twisted it to make it seem he was referring to a living man who is (as far as we know) innocent, in order to discredit the claim and the man who made it. And they refuse to countenance any argument other than their own.
The attack on the BBC was just a side-effect which they will, no doubt, believe was very lucky. Look at how badly people like Jeremy Hunt wanted to strengthen Sky – and Rupert Murdoch’s bid to own it – and weaken the Corporation in the past.
Far more serious is the attack on the credibility of anybody making claims that they suffered sex attacks as a child, especially if their claim implicates members of – you guessed it – the Conservative Party.
What are you supposed to think when a man who reportedly engaged in extra-marital toe-sucking antics, among other activities allegedly involving a Chelsea football kit, calls a child sexual abuse victim a “weirdo” on live TV?
What we’re seeing is utterly vile.
It’s the Establishment (such as it is) scrambling to salvage its reputation by smearing everyone around it.
We all know that the BBC’s Newsnight programme ran a report on Steve Messham’s allegations that he was abused as a child, by a person who was not named on television.
Speculation began on Twitter about the identity of that person (we all now know that he was wrongly identified as Lord McAlpine, the former Conservative Party Treasurer).
When David Cameron appeared on ITV’s This Morning show, presenter Philip Schofield handed him a list of names mentioned in the online speculation – members of the Conservative Party – and asked if the Prime Minister was going to discuss the matter with them.
The very next day, Mr Messham apologised to Lord McAlpine, saying that he had now been shown a photograph of that gentleman and he was not the man whose picture he had been shown by a police officer in the 1990s. It had been the police officer’s claim that that photograph was of Lord McAlpine that had led him to make his accusation.
To me, that seemed a conspicuous coincidence. The PM gets a list – and remember, this had been going on for some time up until then – and the very next day, any possibility of an allegation against the man who had – until then- been the most popular suspect is retracted. We can only hope that there was no foul play and this development is exactly what it seems to be.
It is strange that nobody at Newsnight had done that – showed Mr Messham a picture of Lord McAlpine. It should be admitted that the Newsnight report named nobody, but better safe than sorry (as the saying goes).
What’s stranger is that Mr Messham was shown a picture of his abuser and given the wrong name. I questioned this in an earlier article, and also asked why nobody in the mass news media had done likewise.
Well, now we know. An all-out attack on Mr Messham appeared in today’s Mail, stating that he was branded an unreliable witness, assaulted a lawyer at an inquiry, triggered a £400,000 libel payout after making a previous false sex abuse allegation, and was tried for fraud. “Even his lawyer says he may have invented stories”, the report trumpeted.
It was co-written by somebody calling him- (or her-) self ‘David Rose’. Now, here’s where it gets interesting. It seems David Rose was once a pseudonym for the journalist Johann Hari, who used the name to make “malicious edits of several of his critics’ Wikipedia pages” (according to Wikipedia itself) an allegation he later admitted in an Independent article.
“In a few instances, I edited the entries of people I had clashed with in ways that were juvenile or malicious: I called one of them anti-Semitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk,” he wrote.
Now, I’m not saying the ‘David Rose’ in the Mail is Johann Hari using his pseudonym, but I am saying it is interesting that the writer has chosen a name that is associated with fabricated smear pieces. It leads inquiring minds to question the authenticity of what we’re seeing.
Finally – the crowning travesty, if you will – we were presented with David Mellor (a man whose own questionable – in a different way – sexual history is well-documented) on today’s Sunday Politics, using the Mail smear piece to justify calling Mr Messham a “weirdo”.
He said: “They rely on a man who, you know, the Mail on Sunday reveals over two pages, that this man is a weirdo.”
Mr Mellor himself has a chequered history with the popular press. Besides the toe-sucking, Chelsea kit-wearing dodginess, he had called for curbs on press freedom in 1992, claiming that the popular press “is drinking in the last-chance saloon”. He must be delighted to be involved in this.
Job done. Messham discredited. Newsnight discredited. No need to investigate the possibility of paedophiles in the Conservative Party.
And what will be the long-term result? Paedophile victims will be even more afraid to come forward than they were before. Therefore abuses will continue. They may even become worse.
There are several online ‘memes’ that mock the Conservative Party by calling them “SelfServatives”. In what has happened over the last week, the Conservative Party has proved its critics correct. In covering its own collective rear – no matter what it took – it has ensured a victory for paedophiles across the UK and a crushing defeat for victims of this hideous sex crime.
All those involved in this little damage control exercise, from Mr Cameron, to ‘David Rose’, to David Mellor, and whoever else was enlisted to help out, should be ashamed of themselves – both for what they have done and the cack-handed way in which they have done it.
They have proved yet again that they are, in the words of Aneurin Bevan, “lower than vermin”.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.