Magazine article The Spectator

The End of Authority

Magazine article The Spectator

The End of Authority

Article excerpt

One by one our great institutions have tumbled

Who would trust MPs? Until recently most of us thought they were just in it for the expenses. Now it turns out they're in it to abuse kids too.

We know because we've read it in the papers. Not that they're any better, tapping Milly Dowler's phone. Still, at least you can trust the BBC. Apart from their old stars, that is, or the higher-ups who covered for them or fingered the wrong paedos. Really, the police should have stepped in years ago. Except they were probably busy being racist.

So who will speak up for the kids? Once it could have been a bishop or something. Though not after what we now know about the Catholics. And the Church of England's not much better. Frock-wearing paedos. Thinking about it could drive you to illness. Except you can't take any chances these days. Not with the NHS just waiting to kill you with a superbug and then giving Jimmy Savile the keys.

Rarely since the last days of Rome can there have been such a dearth of authority in a society. One by one, in the lifespan of most people in Britain, the institutions which once defended and epitomised our country have fallen and now appear unable to get up again.

Consider the latest furore. A dossier on paedophiles in Parliament several decades ago was reported to have gone missing (whoever heard of a government file going missing?), the internet erupted and within hours the Home Secretary was standing before Parliament to announce a review that will no doubt turn into an inquiry. Anything less than a full judge-led inquiry probably won't do. Though as Lord Hutton might attest, we can ignore the findings if we don't like them. Even judges must agree with the public mood.

Theresa May stressed the basics: the public must have confidence that we are not in fact governed by a secret cabal of paedophiles. But the chance to debate this matter was an opportunity the House could not miss. Even politicians can feel some returning moral confidence once paedophiles are on the menu. At least, they can for the time being.

The Labour opposition tried to say that the Home Office was 'too complacent' about paedophiles. And then there was the backbench MP Tom Watson, a man who appears to be auditioning for the role of witchfinder general. …

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