David Calling

Something Is Rotten

The BBC is known familiarly as Aunty. The British police have the nickname of Old Bill, and an individual copper might be referred to as Mr. Plod. Nice, isn’t it, domestic, all part of one big family that can be trusted.

Except that this is evidently no longer the case, if ever it was. The BBC is at the center of a scandal that reveals something rotten at the core of the institution. It concerns someone called Jimmy Savile. Just the sight of him was as good as a warning. He had a permanent knowing grin, he wore preposterous clothes and had straggly hair down to his shoulders; he drove a Bentley, waved cigars in other people’s face and boasted continuously. But he raised money for charity and became a television personality, cultivated celebrities and received a knighthood. Charles Moore in his column in the Spectator rightly remarks that a culture that made an idol of such a narcissistic show-off is sick. Savile died last year. For Christmas day, the BBC was scheduling a program celebrating the man. Those at the top knew that they were covering up the essential fact that under cover of his public life Savile had been all along a notorious pedophile. Three hundred men and women have come forward to testify that as children they were abused, on some occasions in hospital wards. Put straightforwardly, the national broadcaster found it convenient to lie.

On the police front, a blind man of 61 was walking in the street when a policeman knocked him down from behind by firing his Taser gun under the impression that the man’s white stick was a Samurai sword. No apologies are offered. Andrew Mitchell, chief whip for the Tories in parliament, swore at a policeman outside 10 Downing Street, and the police had him sacked — as in the old Soviet Union, then, the police decide who is to be a politician.


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