By chance several events in the last few days have highlighted poignantly how the British Establishment – the small political-economic-financial elite who went to the same public schools and the same universities (usually Oxbridge) – automatically close ranks to protect each other when they come under pressure. Jonathan Burrows, a former MD of Blackrock Asset Management with a multi-million salary, was exposed as a chiselling fare dodger who had cheated Southeastern Railways out of £43,000 over several years, but because he was allowed to make an out-of-court settlement he avoided prosecution and wasn’t sent to prison. What ordinary employee would have have been allowed such a getaway? The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) feebly admonished him as “falling short of the standards we expect” – can you imagine that being said to a burglar who had raided houses for several years and got away with £43,000? The FCA is the same toothless body which is supposed to be holding the City to account after a decade of stupendous financial crime, but has yet to send a single City grandee to prison.
The mood of this corrupt closing of ranks to protect one of their own is best caught by the machinations reported today of how the Tory government in 1963 (nothing has changed since) sought to frame Mandy Rice-Davies in order to ‘get’ Stephen Ward because he was about to expose Profumo for lying to Parliament about his affair with Christine Keeler. The Establishment cranked into action. A corrupt Scotland Yard officer had Rice-Davies arrested for a non-existent theft of a rented TV, softened up in prison, and told she would only be released if she testified against Ward. She was subjected to the corrupt bullying of the police, the moralising cant of the prosecutor, and the deep bias of the Old Bailey judge.
Nor is this a one-off story of 50 years ago. The rampant child sex abuse of Savile over decades was hushed up, just as the sexual depredations of Cyril Smith MP were similarly never followed up even though detailed reports of the evidence were sent to the Home Office. In order to ensure that nothing much would come of the child sex abuse inquiry she set up, Theresa May tried to get away with appointing blatantly pro-Establishment figures to chair it. We now learn that the Met has enough evidence to validate allegations of a VIP-led child sex scandal operating for years among senior Westminster figures, but though known about it was hushed up for decades.
The police officer who shot an unarmed Mark Duggan dead has not been prosecuted. MI5 was not called to account over the two terrorists who murdered the soldier Rigby, even though they were both known to the authorities beforehand. The senior police officers who ran the secret unit of undercover officers spying on environmental activists and using illicit sexual liaisons to cover their tracks have never been prosecuted. Not a single death in custody over the last 25 years which has led to open coroner verdicts has ever been prosecuted and the perpetrator convicted.
Britain has an Establishment worthy of any Third World autocracy, it’s just that the British are more subtle about it.