Bad, mad and sad: The politics of scrapping the Child Sex Abuse inquiry

Theresa May, home sercretary.Bad, mad and sad if she scraps the whole inquiry Pic Credit: conservatives.com

Theresa May, home sercretary.Bad, mad and sad if she scraps the whole inquiry Pic Credit: conservatives.com

The revelations by Mark Watts, editor of Exaro, that Theresa May, the home secretary, is considering scrapping the newly set up independent panel will have more implications than many survivors can possibly imagine. It will go much further than the anguish shown by panel member and survivor  Sharon Evans, whose heartfelt views are reflected in her letter revealed in the Exaro piece.

Survivors who campaigned for a clean break hope for a new judge led inquiry or Royal Commission compelling everybody to give evidence which will solve all their problems and produce ” an all singing,dancing ” result. Some of them don’t want anybody on the panel at all.

What they are not aware is that a political decision to reshape the inquiry is now competing with a now much bigger political issue: The General Election. It will be the perfect storm for further inaction.

From next month any statement made by a politician will be about positioning themselves for winning the next general election not about the good of governing the country.

To deal with everything the campaigners want Theresa May has only until March 26 to sort out appointing a new chair, further advisers and staff. After that Whitehall runs the country – politicians are in purdah – and cannot make any controversial appointments or decisions.

There are over 100 applications for the chair and candidates will now obviously want to know what exactly they are being appointed to – is it a panel, a judicial inquiry or a Royal Commission? There is also now huge disruption to the work of the panel, the secretariat, who don’t know where they stand. I have heard that at least two other members of the panel – and not the people the noisy survivors have targeted – may well quit because of potential damage to their reputations and won’t want anything to do with it. There is a real danger that people may think it is so toxic that no one will want to be appointed to do the job.

This means it is will be a very tall order to do this by March 26. But that is minor compared to the storm on the way – the general election campaign.

As a seasoned political journalist I am aware that we face an extraordinary and unprecedented campaign. None of  the two main parties – Conservative and Labour  look like securing an overall majority. The Lib Dems- the third major party of the 2010  election- face potential oblivion.

The only parties who really connected with the electorate in the last year were UKIP, the Scottish Nationalists and the Greens who could all gain seats next May but not enough to form a government. Cameron will not replicate Thatcher’s 1983 victory and Ed Miliband will not replicate Blair’s 1997 landslide.

So what will happen in May is that NO party will have an overall majority and NO new government will be able to take difficult decisions. Furthermore  all three main parties could be plunged into  distracting leadership battles- with Cameron,.Miliband and Clegg toppled while new rivals ( in the Tories case, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, George Osborne and Theresa May herself  competing for the top job).

Then it is likely to be a SECOND general election under new leaders probably in October or November – while the big parties try again for a majority.

Why does this apoplectic vision affect what happens to the CSA inquiry? Simple really, if it is not finally settled by March nobody is going to bother to set up another inquiry – because they will be too distracted with leadership in fighting and trying to survive on a day-to-day basis to have time.

So all the work will be a waste of time. Paedophiles will be laughing all the way to the brothel knowing that the overarching inquiry into their  activities will not take place. The police will be let off the hook because they won’t have to be accountable to an inquiry now. The big losers would be survivors themselves – once again denied a national platform. That’s why I think to scrap the whole thing now will be bad, mad and sad.

Lynton Crosby launches Twitter libel action against Labor

Lynton Crosby: Latest figure to pursue Twitter Libel Action. Pic credit: BBC

Lynton Crosby: Latest figure to pursue Twitter libel Action. Pic credit: BBC

Just as David Cameron could do without any further distractions  Lynton Crosby, his top strategist for the 2015 general election,  is about to become embroiled in a lengthy and costly libel action 10,500 miles away from Downing Street.

Mr Crosby the aggressive campaign adviser  who helped Boris Johnson win the last London mayoral election  and well-known for his ” dog whistle” techniques to woo voters is about to cause a furore in Australia in a trial that a judge says is already ” heading down the path of a famous defamation.”

He is the latest top figure after Lord McAlpine, the former Tory treasurer, decided to sue people for Twitter defamation ( in his case wrongly accused of being a paedophile), to take his chances in the courts. The interesting thing is this case is that it centres around his very election techniques that helped right wingers win power in Australia and could become controversial over here. He is also a tweeter himself (@LyntonKCrosby)- at least while he was helping Boris Johnson’s campaign. Indeed his tweets were quite sharp about the BBC, and the Left during the campaign and he also got into trouble (not on Twitter) over describing the Muslim voter in uncharitable terms – something which he denies.

The full story of the impending libel action is revealed in some detail on the Inforrm blog (http://inforrm.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/news-conservative-strategist-lynton-crosby-and-an-australian-twitter-libel-action/) .

Official Australian Government portrait of Mike Kelly MP, defence materials minister and twitter libel fighter

Official Australian Government portrait of Mike Kelly MP, defence materials minister and twitter libel fighter

The man being sued by Crosby is an Australian defence minister, Mike Kelly ( ‏@MikeKellyMP)

in the Labor government who tweeted that Mr Crosby had used unethical polling techniques to help win the election for the Liberals. The damaging tweet said: ““always grate [sic] to hear moralizing from Crosby, Textor, Steal and Gnash. The mob who introduced push polling to Aus.”

Crosby took exception to this as push polling is illegal in Australia  as it attempts to change people’s opinions by pretending to conduct a neutral poll. As Inforrm reports ”  Crosby  and his company claimed his opponents said he ” had introduced a polling technique that had the deceitful purpose of deliberately influencing voters with material slanted against the opposing candidate.  They seek aggravated damages because they say Dr Kelly failed to apologise, used sensational language and published the tweet knowing it was false, or with reckless indifference to its truth or falsity.”

But Mr Kelly is not backing down despite losing an attempt to have the libel thrown out and being ordered to pay $100,000 costs. He has got the financial backing of the New South Wales Labor Party and both sides will be back in court on June 7.

So Mr Crosby is about to be a bit distracted just when he should be advising Cameron on how to handle the rise of Ukip. But there is also interesting side to this story. Will Crosby launch similar type actions against prominent Labour tweeters here – if they dare attack him during the 2015 election campaign. Will Tom Watson, Labour’s campaign manager,a prolific tweeter and man prepared to take on the wrath of Murdoch, find himself in the centre of a fresh row.

Whatever happens there no seems a much bigger chance of what  former party Tory deputy chairman @LordAshcroft tweeted only a week ago ( “Lynton Crosby becoming the story. Dirty linen/public. Whatever the merits not good for the Tories.” This was not about this story but the blogosphere could be about to get a lot more controversial, nastier and dangerous during the 2015 election.