I think it is healthy that the left can have a civilized debate about this. I have to confess to being surprised at how many on the left have backed Harriet Harman. I have never been one of her fans. I am not that surprised that she has proven so incompetent as to turn a minor problem into a major one. I am not sure where this is going to end up, certainly not the speed with which her political career will unravel. But I certainly don’t think she will keep her job. I for one won’t be sad to see her go.
As far as Laura Kuenssberg is concerned, I used to be one of her most vociferous critics. But, like a handful of her BBC colleagues, over the years I have detected a marked improvement.
I don’t see anything wrong with how Ms Kuenssberg conducted her Newsnight interview. On the contrary, it was Harriet Harman’s approach that has let so many people down. She has had at least some of her enthusiastic supporters over the years pulling their hair out: Julie Bindel, for example.
Why did Shami Chakrabarti – the current head of Liberty (the NCCL’s new name) – express such revulsion at this association with those who campaigned for adults to have ‘consensual’ sex with ten year old kids, while Harriet Harman repeatedly refused to do that, suggesting that its structures meant nothing could be done, absolving all office-holders of the NCCL at the time of impotence over their own organization?
Harman’s problem is not that we expect her to have exercised power to do something unilaterally. No one suggests she could have done this. But she could have acted as a whistle blower. Why does she imply there is nothing wrong with no one at this organization bothering to identify what in retrospect is clearly a massive problem, then working out a plan for solving it? Not even Patricia Hewitt was guilty, apparently. That just won’t wash.
The Labour Party’s Depute Leader has helped those accused of historic crimes evade prosecution. Her indifference to the role played by the NCCL’s allowing the Pedophile Information Exchange to affiliate cannot but have helped lend these people an air of respectability. That in turn will be used by those accused of such crimes to argue that their offenses didn’t seem so grave given that the likes of the NCCL had no problem with them. Self confessed pedophiles donating money to Britain’s main civil liberties organization, being affiliated to it, having the leaders of the pedophile organization in question (PIE) being on NCCL committees… Why does Harriet Harman, the NCCL’s legal officer at the time, not see this might be something that deserves reflection, and an apology?
If Labour’s Depute Leader can only bring herself to ‘regret’ the existence of the Pedophile Information Exchange (an utterly meaningless phrase), but not regretting doing nothing to stop their leaders being on the committees of Harriet Harman’s organization, doesn’t this pose a serious problem for her, and for Ed Miliband too?
Why should anyone trust Labour’s leader or Depute Leader as they open the gates of the voter base of those who select their party’s next leader by very paying a small fee, if they betray such a lax attitude to who was buying influence in the NCCL?
Since it took four decades for this scandal to be brought to public attention, why on Earth should anyone believe the Labour Party can sort out who is allowed to buy votes to select Labour’s leader when Ed Miliband is finally shuffled off the stage?
Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband seek to throw dust in our eyes by alleging she is being accused of someone a hell of a lot worse than she was being asked about. The original allegation put by Laura Kuenssberg was about not doing anything. Accepting this was a mistake, not necessarily a mistake on her part, but on someone else’s. Possibly Patricia Hewitt’s. That would have moved the story on. Pretending that she is being accused of something worse than this is a cynical attempt to get people on her side. I am surprised how successful this has been. But only with hardcore Labour Party activists. This is not a strategy that will survive for long.
All Harriet Harman had to say was she didn’t know what had gone on. Either that or that while she did know, the NCCL regime at that time offered her insufficient opportunities to do anything. Either response would have ended this crisis.
Given Harriet Harman’s failure to do either of these things, it is highly likely that the mass media will trawl the NCCL’s records until they find something, then choose to hold it back from public scrutiny until the right moment. When will that be? During the general election, obviously. That is what Rupert Murdoch does. Everyone knows that by now.