The Personal is Political.
Well – it’s late at night again, and fighting the battle has kept me from finishing the post I promised – in which I will provide a lay-person’s guide to the Sharp Report.
But don’t worry – it’s on its way – provided I don’t get assassinated first.
So I thought I’d offer just a few, random, stream-of-consciousness assessments, thoughts and feelings on how things stand now – the Jersey situation – and which way the fortunes are swinging in the child protection war – towards the Jersey oligarchy – or towards the victims?
Difficult, difficult question, that last point.
Looked at from any normal, civilised, perspective – legal and moral victory to the survivors should now be virtually a ‘done-deal’ as far as the Jersey Child Abuse Disaster is concerned.
Anyone faintly familiar with the facts, the evidence, and the survivors – can state with certainty that the case against the States of Jersey is proven – 50 times over. So if it comes to legal battles – the outcome would be plain; plain, that is – if we were looking at a normal, civilised environment.
But sadly – it’s the deeply strange, stagnant, intellectually malnourished, ethically festering Jersey establishment we are considering.
A power-environment like no other in any western democracy.
But we have allies.
We’ve had some fantastic, moral-boosting support from Esther Rantzen – who has visited Jersey on two occasions now, in order to speak with survivors.
I said I’d offer a few personal perspectives of mine, and this might give you a flavour of how things have seemed to me.
When I first heard that Esther was taking an interest in the Jersey case, and would be visiting – I just knew – instantly – that Jersey’s only newspaper – the Jersey Evening Post – would do all it could to assault her involvement – that she would be depicted as some kind of “interfering busy-body” – whose involvement was not wanted – because we do things via “The Jersey Way”.
Sure enough – letters published in the JEP, and some columnists’ comments, have said exactly that – and equally predictably, letters in support of Esther have simply not been published.
Standard fair from The Rag.
And being able to – so, so accurately – predict these things is profoundly dispiriting.
As events have unfolded I’ve been able to predict with depressing accuracy how things would play out.
I suppose I’ve only had two phases of surprise in the whole, wretched episode.
The first being the gradual discovery – throughout the first half of last year – of the disgusting and horrifying true scale of failure in Jersey’s child protection systems – over a period of decades.
The second surprise – though, really, it shouldn’t have been – was at the sheer and mind-boggling stupidity of the Jersey political establishment. God knows – I know well enough that most of them are insular, ignorant, arrogant – utterly unused to any kind of challenge to their customary power – and thus complacent and smug in their assessment of their “correctness”.
But so obviously backing the wrong horse – in something so fundamental as a major child protection battle?
Becoming the first and only “democratic” administration on the face of the planet to sack a social services Minister – for whistle-blowing?
Siding with abuse-concealing senior civil-servants?
In flat defiance of the facts and evidence available – even at that early stage?
Yes – I was surprised.
I genuinely didn’t think people could be so bloody stupid. But they were.
But aside from those two examples of the unexpected – everything else has been exactly as I – and those survivors and campaigners I work with – predicted.
No, actually, there was a third moment of surprise – though with hindsight, it shouldn’t have been – which was the wretched spectacle of the establishment stopping my Christmas speech in which I was attempting to express some recognition for the victims.
I try to blank that episode out of my mind these days – as it was such a nadir – such a dreadful revelation of just how despicable people can be – that it left me seriously contemplating suicide during the following 48 hours.
So, kind of surprised – but post-event – no, not really. And it was probably that thought – that – actually – it shouldn’t have been surprising – which made the episode so crushingly bleak.
As I have written previously – I was interviewed in the aftermath by the Jersey media, and one of the BBC Jersey TV hacks asked, ‘was I surprised at States members actions?’ I was about to say, ‘yes – how could anyone not be surprised at opposition to an expression of empathy to child abuse victims’. But at that instant, the awful truth engulfed me – so the answer I gave, which was used on the local TV news, was very different: ‘am I surprised at States members reactions? No – not really. Let’s face it – we all know the States is largely a collection of gangsters and halfwits; so surprised? No.’
But apart from those two – (and a third I’d rather forget) – surprises, everything else has been tediously predictable.
Every – single event.
Take the Jersey establishment doing all it can – with implacable determination – to minimise the scope and scale of any prosecutions. I knew this would be the case last summer – before I was even aware of the covert police investigation.
Or that the senior civil service would close-ranks, lie, engage in cover-ups – and, essentially, display the customary Teflon-coated, bullet-proof invulnerability.
99.9% of people reading this blog will know the hard realities of employment. You are there to do a job on behalf of your pay-masters. They need and require you to be competent, law-abiding, efficient and effective. If you fail to meet such standards – your employment will rapidly come to an end.
But not in Jersey civil-service-world. Here you can be demonstrably incompetent, idle, over-promoted, unethical, a danger to service clients, utterly ineffectual and provably criminal – and yet be completely invulnerable.
There are senior civil-servants working now who should – on the plain evidence – have been sacked last year – and that’s at best. A number of them should by now have been charged with various criminal offences – for example, perverting the course of justice.
But – predictably – none of these things have happened.
And to take that phenomenon a step further – how many people reading this blog know that there is at least one – very senior – Jersey civil servant under investigation by the States of Jersey Police for child abuse?
And how many people could predict that – notwithstanding the signing of a Disclosure Notice in recent weeks by the Police to inform his employers – the States of Jersey – that the civil servant is under criminal investigation – they remain at work – and are not suspended?
Even though suspension is the policy requirement, and is not regarded as a judgement or punishment – merely management best-practice?
95% of people would be deeply surprised – shocked in fact, at such reckless irresponsibility.
This is “The Jersey Way”.
Zero accountability or responsibility.
I actually confronted the civil servant in question at a States briefing earlier this year; I asked them about their past activities – and those of their colleague – “The Pinball Wizard”.
Predictably – the response was smug, complacent dismissiveness.
I knew – by reason of the same arrogance born of utter invulnerability – that Jersey’s Attorney General, William Bailhache, would feel so perfectly protected that he could trample over and spit in the face of all established jurisprudence and simply ignore the requirement to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interests. The requirement for justice to be seen to be done.
In similar fashion, I knew – though very much underestimated the scale of the abomination – that the Bill Bailhache’s brother, the Bailiff, Phil Bailhache, would administer some form of put-down to the child abuse investigation in his Liberation Day speech. But I suppose I was taken aback to some extent at the sheer cretinous extremism of his words.
As I later remarked to other politicians – most of whom were saying ‘how marvellous’ the speech was – “look at it this way; if I had been somehow secretly able to write his speech – and attempt to make him and the oligarchy he leads look utterly ridiculous – I couldn’t have done a better job.”
It was predictable that suspects against whom the Police have well-evidenced cases – would be released without charge.
Predictable that papers from the Police seeking the extradition and charging of two suspects have sat – un-actioned – on Bill’s desk for 5 months.
Predictable that the supposed “independent expert” the Jersey establishment carefully selected, produced the requisite whitewash.
Predictable that my 25 page report to Jack Straw – sent nearly 6 months ago now – would receive no substantive response.
Predictable that – even today – even given what has happened – States of Jersey departments are still failing to properly help survivors with access to their records, better housing, additional financial support, etc, etc.
Predictable screeds of shameless nonsense in The Rag’s editorial comments.
Predictable that the vast majority of letters sent to the JEP in support of the survivors never get published. (I have a stack of them – sent to me by their authors – on my desk as I type.)
Predictable that the Jersey judiciary – notwithstanding the clear conflictedness which engulfs them – would carry on insisting – like Bill Bailhache, in face of all established jurisprudence – that they are competent to deal with court cases arising from the Jersey child abuse disaster.
Predictable that what few arrests and charges the oligarchy cannot avoid – will be held over – until after Jersey’s elections later this year. The last thing the oligarchy wants is a load of dreadful, seedy, former civil servants – and maybe one or two current ones – being charged in the build-up to the election. Too much of a stark display of the truth to the voting public.
But those are events which have occurred, or in that last example, are occurring now.
What of the future?
Will most of the suspects be charged?
Will the whole saga be dealt with by an independent judiciary? Which – axiomatically means a non-Jersey judiciary?
Will the victims get justice?
Will the Sates of Jersey – for once in its wretched existence – do the honest, decent thing – and accept culpability for what public administration in Jersey has done to these children over a period of decades?
Will – for the first time ever – in over 800 years – the Jersey oligarchy lose?
Will – for the first time ever – the people win?
What are the answers to these questions? Yes – or no?
The survivors are an extremely diverse group of people, of all ages and from many backgrounds. They are individual people – with their own views and opinions.
And the same is true of the diverse range of campaigners and organisations, each with their own perspective on the situation.
Given this diversity, there can be no surprise that there should be differences of opinion as to which course of action is most likely to produce the right outcome – which approach will deliver a load of “yes” answers to those questions above.
I think it was in late June last year – even before I first stated publicly that we had huge problems – that, knowing the path we were on would lead to the law – to the courts – I said to some survivors and whistle-blowers that ‘we will simply not win this war – we will not achieve the good administration of justice – unless we can succeed in forcing London to intervene.’
I knew it then. And God knows, it’s an assessment which has been proven to be completely correct by events since then. We have publicly seen example after example of the Jersey oligarchy doing all it can to minimise the scope and scale of any charges and prosecutions.
Therefore, it remains my view today. In fact – it’s a conclusion which has been ever more powerfully enforced with the passage of time.
I accept that some others involved don’t share this view – they have legitimate opinions which, for example, have it that sweet reason – and appeals to human decency will have the desired affect.
But – drawing on 18 years of experience as a States member – and having experienced first-hand the disgusting response of public administration in Jersey over the last year or so – my assessment remains this:
We force – because they certainly won’t do it voluntarily – London to intervene – we win.
We fail to make London intervene – we lose.
The oligarchy wins – yet again.
The pubic interest loses – yet again.
I believe it is as simple and as clear as that.
Without outside help – we’re left facing the all-powerful, unchallengeable, Teflon-coated, bullet-proof , power-crazed, undefeated Jersey oligarchy – an entrenched establishment facing huge stakes; its greatest ever crisis – and thus motivated to be even more utterly ruthless and inimical than usual.
Our situation could be likened to playing a video-game. One of those were you have to run around a bleak and dark maze of tunnels, doing battle with space-aliens. But no matter how far you get – no matter how much ammunition you have, or lives you have left – ultimately you always meet that indestructible, slavering space-alien boss – who is invulnerable to all your weapons, all-powerful – and unbeatable – no matter what you do. Your lasers run-out of power, your energy expires – you lose – game over.
The Jersey oligarchy is not defeatable. At least, not by the efforts of ordinary islanders.
Short of an asteroid strike – the only force which will – and it will – ultimately destroy them is their own arrogance and hubris.
But will that inevitability occur in connection with present events?
All I can say with absolute confidence is that it certainly should.