We are entering a very interesting period in public life. Now I am not one that looks back to a halcyon golden age when government reports always held government to account. The infamous Widgery report is proof of that. But it seems that of late, the whole thing is getting more shameless.
Cameron recently claimed that the Wanless report into historic abuse cleared the Home office. Of course it did no such thing. It merely said they could find no evidence that the missing files had been lost deliberately. I’m not sure what they were expecting to find. MI5 couldn’t find any evidence either. Considering the suspicion was that MI5 were using video footage to blackmail senior political figures, its unlikely the spooks would have said “Yes, we knew these cunts were raping kids, but god it was a useful stick to beat them with, so we thought – fuck it”
In the USA we had the ludicrous situation where the IRS, when accused of serious wrongdoing ‘lost’ two years’ worth of e-mails. Try that as a defence if you aren’t the government. Do we really think they would have lost two years of records that completely exonerated them?
Then we had the FIFA report that clears FIFA. Only the report’s author said it was a travesty and disowned it. So now what? Well probably nothing. I heard a senior football administrator type figure saying it was time to “move on” Code for’ ignore’ obvious criminality. UEFA could of course say “Publish the full unexpurgated report or we are leaving. Try even staging world cup without the Europeans.
And now we have Mr Cameron’s latest anti-terror proposals. I had always thought of him as a fat social democrat, turns out he’s a creepy fascist. The Government wants to stop British jihadists returning unless they agree to strict conditions. Mr Cameron said that British nationals would be unable to return to the UK “unless they do so on our terms”. If not, they will face a temporary exclusion order of two years, with the possibility of another being imposed after that. This is utterly remarkable. It amounts to “if we suspect you do something (ill-defined) abroad, that we don’t approve of, you are guilty of it and aren’t coming back, unless you confess” So let’s examine this:
Does this apply to anyone who joins a foreign army/fighting force? Okay ISIS bad, got it. What about the FSA fighting Assad (the people we wanted to arm last year?) Criminal or not? What if you join the FSA as a medic? What if a Brit of Syrian origin from an Alawite family went join the Syrian army against ISIS, what if they joining Hezbollah also fighting against ISIS in Syria? What if you joined HAMAS, notionally the government army of Gaza, would this be okay?
What if a British/Iranian joint citizen did a year in the Iranian navy? I was in school with a Welsh kid who went to Afghanistan in the 1980’s to fight the Russians (really), is he liable to arrest? Is it only a religious thing? If you go to join the (secular) Tamil tigers should you be arrested? Should Mahal mums be worried?
Unlike some other countries, Britain does not have an effective law prohibiting its citizens from fighting for foreign armies, so as far as I can see, joining any state organisation from the IDF to the Syrian army is okay. The latter being particularly mad, because you could be doing more or less exactly the same thing Hezbollah is doing in Syria, but in the latter case, I think you could face trouble under this new proposal. This proposal seems chaotic and liable to random and subjective application. Far better as Dominic Grieve suggests, to prosecute people if they break the law and release them if they are found not guilty. (And it will be very interesting to see how this new law is drafted, will it specifically apply to war, or will it be a catch-all “anything we don’t like” clause?)
The whole rational basis for public life seems to be imploding. It was always implicit that the law was rational and it applied to everyone. If this ceases to be the case, it ceases to be law in a meaningful sense and becomes rule by fiat edict.
And now we have this (very vague) Met police statement that suggests senior figures in the 1980’s weren’t just raping kids, they were killing them as well. We can really trust this who government thing huh? Never mind, there’ll be another report along in a minute.