Boris Johnson used the victims of Jimmy Savile as a human shield - Euan McColm
It was only after Sir Jimmy Savile died that the truth emerged. He had been a prolific predatory sex offender, raping children throughout his adult life.
The public reacted without a scintilla of surprise to these revelations. There wasn’t a pub in the country where stories of Savile’s alleged double life hadn’t been shared.
Some victims had spoken up while Savile was alive but their allegations were disbelieved and complainants threatened with legal action.
But everyone knows the truth, now. Everyone knows precisely what Savile was and we know his victims were failed, not just by police and prosecutors, but by BBC managers who ignored talk of Savile’s behaviour and, more broadly, by a society which did not take seriously claims of child abuse.
The very least Savile’s victims deserve is a little respect.
Under pressure over a series of lockdown-breaking parties, Boris Johnson took a different view. So far as he was concerned, the women and men whose childhoods were destroyed by Savile were legitimate pawns in the political game.
The Prime Minister’s charge - made in the Commons where parliamentary privilege protects him from legal action - that, while Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer “spent more time prosecuting journalists than he did Jimmy Savile” told us everything we need to know about him.
Johnson will say anything if he thinks it will save his wretched skin. Nothing is out of bounds on the basis of taste or decency.
Without a thought for the victims of Jimmy Savile, the Prime Minister sought to use them as a human shield.
Johnson’s attack on Starmer amounted to the repetition of a conspiracy theory popular among sections of the far right. The truth - as Johnson knows - is that Starmer had absolutely nothing to do with the failure to prosecute Savile.
As DPP, Starmer had apologised on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service for failings uncovered during a review - which he commissioned - into the organisation’s handling of the Savile case and, challenged outside the Commons about his remarks, the Prime Minister used this fact to double down on his lie. All he was saying, you see, was that it was quite right that Starmer had apologised.
Johnson played that particular card after lawyers for Savile’s victims had spoken of how distressing their clients were finding it to be used in this way. The Prime Minister cannot credibly claim he did not know the hurt he had caused victims of Savile before he decided to use them again.
The usual suspects - Jacob Rees Mogg, Nadine Dorries, James Cleverly, and a few other halfwits who’ll be out on their arses from their ministerial positions as soon as Johnson goes - did endless rounds of telly and radio appearances to explain that everything the Prime Minister has said was perfectly fine. Sometimes I think the willingness of Johnson’s keenest supporters to debase themselves in order to protect him borders on kink.
But people aren’t as stupid as these Johnson acolytes might wish. We hear Rees Mogg - a man who looks like he woke up halfway through his own embalming - defend the Prime Minister and we hear a man fighting for his own political career.
We may now divide Tory MPs into two categories. In the first category are those who have publicly called for Boris Johnson’s premiership to end. In the second category are those who are happy to tolerate the Prime Minister’s use of Savile’s victims.
There is no room for negotiation, here. To fail to demand Johnson goes is to enable his disgusting behaviour.
An attempt by government whips to generate declarations of support for Johnson on social media led to various obscure backbenchers tweeting identically worded messages and bringing upon themselves some very much deserved derision.
The Prime Minister clings to power, seemingly oblivious to the fact this scandal is quite unlike any other he has faced. This time, the supposed “great survivor” must deal with the anger and grief of voters who obeyed every last rule of coronavirus lockdown while he and others partied in Downing Street.
In the aftermath of the publication of civil servant Sue Gray’s “update” (a heavily truncated version of the full report with names removed), Johnson’s supporters began parroting a new mantra. Where previously it had been essential that we await the outcome of Sue Gray’s report, now it was necessary for us to wait to see the findings of a police investigation.
Where, I wonder, do these fools think they’re going with this? Do they really think the public is going to be led away from this issue? Do they really think people are going to forget the PM’s behaviour?
If they do, then good luck to them. I suspect, however, that those enraged they were forced to remain apart from dying relatives while Johnson knocked back fizz with cronies to a soundtrack of Abba hits will be just as angry a week, a month or a year from now. This is a deep righteous anger which Boris Johnson will never outrun.
The resignation of Johnson’s longest serving adviser Munira Mirza, on Thursday night, showed some flicker of decency remained in Downing Street. Angry that Johnson had used the Savile smear against Starmer, Mirza ended a 14-year-professional relationship with the Prime Minister.
Conservative MPs who don’t now act to remove Boris Johnson from office might as well make it clear to Jimmy Savile’s victims their suffering means nothing.
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