I am genuinely confused following today’s official police report that paedophilia allegations against Edward Heath were credible enough to bear investigation. It does not surprise me that powerful politicians were protected from investigation in their lifetime. It is sad and sick, but not surprising. In the large majority of cases – Heath, Janner, Brittan, Freud, Smith, activities at Elm Guest House and Dolphin Square and more – we will never really know the full truth.
But my confusion is this.
These are not “copycat” allegations, because they were hushed up at the time. Yet there were, undeniably, a total of scores of allegations of paedophile abuse against politicians, spread right across the country, made by people nobody listened to and who in the vast majority of cases had no knowledge of each other.
Now there are not a similar tranche of historic allegations of other crimes against politicians. There is no evidence of historic shoplifting allegations, and surprising little of historic fraud and corruption allegations. Sexually, there is some limited number of historic adult rape allegations, but not nearly on the scale of the historic paedophilia allegations.
Why? It is not a rhetorical question. I genuinely do not understand it.
Paedophilia is in fact thankfully rare in society. It is notoriously difficult to estimate but medical authorities rate sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children at around 2% of the male population. But that is a figure for those who feel any kind of attraction, not for those who are prepared to act on it. That figure is far, far smaller. But it is very hard to quantify. There are approximately 20,000 convictions per year in the UK, but as the crime mostly happens within families that is certainly an understatement of the incidence. Most of the convictions also involve a family relationship.
To my knowledge, no significant proportion of the historic allegations against politicians involve their own family members. This makes them part of a still rarer group, those who set out to procure the sexual services of children with whom they have no connection. I do not see any room to doubt that Parliament had, over a period of decades, an incidence of criminals that indulged in this odious pattern of behaviour, that was very much higher than the incidence in the general population.
I ask again, why? I do not think power and impunity is enough of an answer. They were doing something the vast, vast majority of us would never do, no matter how sure to “get away with it”.
I can only think of two explanations. The first, and unlikely, is some sort of organisation of paedophiles designed to help each other into parliament. The second and probable explanation is that the desire for political power often reflects a personality disorder which leads to other aberrant behaviour, such as paedophilia.
It is rather important for society that we come to understand this, as it has severe implications for the way we organise society. Unfortunately, Theresa May, whether by design or incompetence, made such a pig’s ear of the Inquiry into historic child abuse, I fear our best chance has passed.
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