There is much comment, on the information super highway, much of it thoughtful and well-informed, about the conviction of Rolf Harris. Some complain that the evidence is all hearsay, others that it is too old, or historic, as we must now say, aping our arse-watching masters in MediaMinster. One strand in this unpopular campaign is the fact that one of his victims took thirty grand or so, in advance of the trial, from a tabloid; another is that Harris's daughter's friend, upon turning 18, voluntarily remained in a sexual relationship with the old creep for thirteen years, only raising Hell when he refused her demand for money and there are yet others who insist that even if he did do that groping and all the rest it, it isn't really that bad. Strengthening their hand, paradoxically, some might think, is the intervention of Ms Vanessa Feltz, complaining very late in the day of events she alleges took place decades ago. Like so many in showbusiness, Feltz, indefatigably talentless, is a Cantabrian, amongst the finest brains in the country, yet she breaks, it seems, just like a little girl. I don't know the extent of the Harriskrieg on Feltz's underwear but whatever it involved it is a long way from child abuse and I guess, par for the showbusiness course, these people are uniformly repulsive and amoral and Feltz's belated cant unreasonably fuels the unreasonable assault on feminism which underpins, I think, much of the disquiet around Harris's conviction.
I do not know if he was guilty as charged, if the charges were lawful but I must presume that the judge and the jury decided rightly, on my behalf, on both. Judges, however, are neither infallible nor always entirely honest; look at the trial, ancient now, historic, of Liberal leader, Jeremy Thorpe, in which the judge directed the jury that it could not convict an Old Etonian; look at the trials and imprisonments of so many supposed IRA bombers, who were all innocent; at the outrageous framing of Barry George for the murder of Jill Dando and the unanswered questions about her investigations into establishment paedophilia; we could fill the streets of cyberspace with the rotten, scandalous behaviour of judges high and low. Overwhelmingly white, privately educated and Oxbridge, who could doubt that these vermin will, first and foremost, protect their own, I would believe anything of Mr Justice Slag.
I am also perfectly willing to believe that Hall and Harris and Clifford have been chosen as scapegoats; indeed, watching, a few minutes ago, a sinister, former Tory children's minister, smarming and soothing, advising caution in the face of hysterical conspiracy theories and blaming all but parliament for all this shit, I would almost bet my life on it. Thrown to the wolves or not, though, I have little doubt that Hall and Harris and Clifford behaved reprehensibly for significant periods and towards those who were vulnerable to them as a result of their celebrity. This does, of course, open an argument about the nature of celebrity but I have been having it here for years, already. I wish more would engage, would see the true meaning of the phrase, There is no business like showbusiness.
But the danger I came to talk about is that old one, divide and rule, which Mediaminster so readily deploys against us. Cameron’s spivs and gangsters would, at a stroke, repeal equal pay legislation – Look, it hampers the wealth creators, simply gets in the way of long term economic reform; would repeal anti-discrimination legislation - Lessbeclear, it costs the taxpayer a fortune; would, as it so successfully does, even further set worker against worker, black against white and man against woman. The women’s rights struggle was and remains everybody’s struggle; it is a piquancy of our ruinous times that so many blame it - and not himself - for the apprehension and conviction of a wretched old nonce.