Nigel Evans is fully entitled to the presumption of innocence; and the media seem more inclined to give it to him than they did to Malcolm Blackman, linked to Anonymous. In this particularly disgusting piece of journalism by Paul Cheston of the Evening Standard, the vicious liar who brought false accusations against Blackman is referred to as “the victim” – not even the alleged victim, but “the victim” – even after Blackman was found not guilty.
The victim, who cannot be named, had lived at home in south London during the week, and slept in the Occupy tent at weekends.
Having been at the Occupy site, where every tent touched at least three others, the idea that repeated rape could be carried out amongst a packed group of people who were particularly certain not to condone it, was always highly implausible. Compelling evidence was given in court that Blackman was not even at the site on one of the two named occasions.
It is particularly sickening that Blackman’s name and photograph has been published everywhere in relation to horrifying and untrue accusations of binding someone against their will with cable ties and raping them. This terrible publicity will follow him everywhere for the rest of his life. The deranged or malicious person who fabricated this story in court continues to have their identity protected.
Blackman’s role within both Anonymous and Occupy has been exaggerated by the media. He was nonetheless associated with the internet and street resistance to the increasingly authoritarian state. The parallels to the Assange case are inescapable.
Returning to Nigel Evans, on the Jeremy Thorpe precedent there is no reason for him to resign his seat before a trial, presuming that he maintains his innocence. Should he resign, this could be one of those small historical chances that has great effects. UKIP will have a great chance of winning Ribble Valley, and the resulting momentum could contribute to a genuine political convulsion in the UK.
Nigel Farage and I were due to have lunch a couple of years ago, but couldn’t get our diaries to match up at the time. Unfortunately, while admiring UKIP’s insurgent spirit, I find myself the polar opposite of their major policies. Distrust and dislike of the political establishment that has failed this country and allowed inconceivable amounts of wealth to be creamed off by the heads of the financial services industry, while ordinary people struggle to get any work at all, is perfectly understandable. The three main parties in England all retail the same neo-con policies, with different packaging. It is inevitable this system must break. That is should break in the direction of right wing populism, is perhaps predictable. But there are worse people than Mr Farage inside all the main parties.
I remain entirely confident that the UKIP surge in England will convince a great many more people in Scotland that they need to break free of the United Kingdom.