Over the past week, with a short-lived foster care controversy and the return of the Leveson Inquiry to the headlines, we’ve had a welcome breather from child abuse hysteria. Don’t fret. It hasn’t gone far. Just as the allegations featured in that Newsnight documentary followed on seamlessly from the sordid Savile affair, there will be more to come. Part of the trouble with this sort of thing is that nobody seems to stop long enough to ask any questions.
As was evident from the feeding frenzy of uninformed commentators circling around the unreliable (and as it turned out unfounded) allegations involving a former Tory minister and a north Wales children’s home. Far from seeking to calm things down – until the studiously bland and otherwise inoffensive Phillip Schofield waded in with his list, that is – the government found itself caught up in this very elite paedophile panic. As The Guardian said at the time, nobody quite seemed to know why a review of the original Waterhouse inquiry into alleged abuse in the 1970s and 80s was even necessary:
Up to five different inquiries are under way, or imminent, looking into various aspects of child abuse. But ministers feel they must be seen to be taking the allegations seriously, especially since the government has condemned the BBC over the Jimmy Savile allegations.
Child abuse hysterics have fuelled the speculation, demanded a bigger Leveson-like Inquiry (please no!) and insisted on the necessity of a dedicated national anti-paedophile team. As if they haven’t done enough damage already. Suzanne Moore like the professionally paranoid Tom Watson MP – for whom apparently ‘decorous caution is the friend of the paedophile’ – has claimed that she too is party to ‘dark and disturbing information’ emanating from alleged victims. (She doesn’t say ‘alleged’ by the way. They must be believed.) That ‘[s]ome of them are confused about whether they really have been abused’ doesn’t seem to make any difference. But this is no witch hunt. Oh no. That would be distastefully tabloid. Moore, like all child abuse hysterics, just wants to ‘bring it back to the victims’.
But those hiding behind the ‘victims’ deserve to be exposed as much as their alleged victimisers. Owen Jones, in perhaps the most hysterical piece of all, argues that those defending the minister (wrongly accused of being a paedophile remember) are ‘undermining victims’. So when former minister David Mellor came to the defence of his former colleague there was outrage. Conservative MP Tim Loughton and others blamed him for discouraging other victims from coming forward. Mellor is not everybody’s cup of tea, granted, and calling the mistaken accuser a ‘weirdo’ was ill-advised. But surely it is the irresponsible rumour-mongers like Moore, Watson and Jones – not Mellor – that we should be getting angry at?