Ted Heath and Jimmy Savile.

British newspapers are overwhelmed with stories about paedophilia scandals. The latest name on the growing list of accused public figures is the late Ted Heath, who served as premier between 1970 and 1974. With over 40 politicians currently under investigation, what began with the BBC’s Jimmy Savile in 2012, now seems to be engulfing the entire political class.

As a lifelong bachelor, Heath showed very little interest in women. He was enthusiastic about sailing and composing music. Not surprisingly, the Tory leader was suspected of being gay. Yet it has never been proven. Conservative Brian Coleman claimed Heath was ‘cottaging’ until his career took off. Meanwhile the convicted sex offender Jonathan King claims Heath resisted his advances. Others, including Heath’s biographer Philip Ziegler, maintain that the former Prime Minister was asexual.

We may never know for certain. However, it would make sense that there would be a cover up if the former PM was, in fact, a child abuser. Allegations of sexual abuse against Heath are now being investigated in Jersey, Kent, Wiltshire, London and Hampshire. There’s even an overlap. The Jersey police are still investigating Haut de la Garenne, a boys’ home which was frequented by Savile. Apparently, the former Prime Minister used to take young boys out on his yacht.

As in many of these cases, the allegations are historical and based on witness corroboration. The police are taking the testimony of one witness, known as ‘Nick’ to protect his identity, very seriously. As reported by Exaro News, Nick is the source of the allegations of three child murders interlinked with a string of abuse. He has named Ted Heath as just one of his abusers. Much of the case revolves around Dolphin Square, where politicians reside at subsidised expense. Naturally, the square has earned a reputation as a sleazy playground.

Fear and Fantasy

One of the few sensible moments in David Cameron’s tenure came when Philip Schofield handed him a list of alleged Tory paedophiles from Twitter. This was live on air. The Prime Minister immediately called for caution and warned against the potential for homophobia. It was a rare moment of clarity. The danger of this scandal lies in its capacity to fuel witch hunts against gay men. The ruling class has long had its own complex sexual life.

“I think rapes certainly wouldn’t have been called rapes,” said Peregrine Worsthorne, recalling his days as a public school boy. “There was a system of sexual favours [at Stowe], but they never happened with violence.” The traditionalist conservative journalist went on to add: “There was a lot of homosexuality at certain periods in English public schools, but I’ve never heard of rape.”

This saga of sexual violence speaks to our worst fears. So often child abuse strikes at the most vulnerable, and is committed by people we respect – fathers, uncles, family friends etc. In these cases we find this has been externalised onto much-loved figures like Rolf Harris. At the same time, the scandal speaks to the level of fantasy. Not just sexual abuse, but deviant cabals and twisted rituals. It’s all gone a bit David Icke. And that should unnerve us.

Tabloids in heaven. London, 2013.
Tabloids in heaven. London, 2013.

“Now sometimes reality embodies fantasy in an uncanny way,” Richard Seymour writes at Lenin’s Tomb. “Just as 9/11 resembled something from a Hollywood production, so the current paedophile scandal at the top of British politics increasingly resembles something from the Ickean imagination. For the full Icke experience, one would merely need to overlay the scenario with some added contours – Satanists, Jews, alien reptiles, bloodlines, magic rituals, mind-programming.”

This isn’t to deny historic child abuse any more than it is to suggest 9/11 was an inside job. The truth is people would much prefer to relocate abuse. In the 1980s and 1990s, this led to the so-called ‘Satanic ritual abuse’ scandals. More recently, the focus has moved on to Muslim rape gangs and now the ‘VIP’ paedophiles. Even the man behind the Westminster paedophile dossier, Geoffrey Dickens, feared witchcraft was the cause of the abuse. But this does not diminish the gravity of the disturbing allegations. Especially given that the dossier was so easily lost.

The possibility of abuse as a common occurrence is far scarier than the occult. The same can be said for the likelihood that the perpetrators of such acts are more like us than reptiles. It’s far from aberrant within families and communities. This is the same reason why the political class is edgy right now. As much as Ted Heath may have fallen out of favour with allies on the right, they aren’t about to throw him under a bus. Nevertheless, this case just reinforces suspicions that there is a lot to hide in Westminster. Maybe we would rather believe in witches.

The Deep State

It’s now known that Margaret Thatcher was debriefed on MI6 deputy director Peter Hayman. He had been named as a paedophile by Geoffrey Dickens. Hayman had already been arrested after he left a briefcase full of child porn on a bus. The British government feared rival spy networks would intercept and blackmail Hayman. If this was the case, then it begs the question: what else did the Thatcher know about? The top Thatcherite henchman Norman Tebbit told Andrew Marr that the emphasis, in those days, was to “protect the system.”

On this point of ‘cover ups’, Slavoj Žižek has written about the Roman Catholic Church and its recurrent paedophile scandals. It’s not just that the Church tries to hush the embarrassment of child sexual abuse. In self-defence the Catholic Church tries to secure the obscene secret constituent of the identity of a priest. So if anyone breaks ranks to denounce the criminals they exclude themselves from the whole system – they are no longer “one of us”. It’s an institutional picture of rape culture, the sordid underbelly necessitated by the maintenance of the surface.

The spotlight has also turned on Kincora boys’ home in Belfast. The home was investigated in 1980 and a series of arrests were made. Former Kincora boy Richard Kerr came to Exaro with his story. He even claims Lord Louis Mountbatten visited Kincora. Kerr says he was abused by a number of prominent figures, including MI6 deputy director Peter Hayman and Liberal MP Cyril Smith. This fits with the big picture. Not just Hayman. Cyril Smith was also known to frequent the Elm Guest House, where boys like Kerr were procured.

The fact that there were many male victims may reflect the role of disciplinary pressures – even forms of emotional and physical abuse – in the enforcement of gender roles. Even before gendered violence is externalised onto the opposite sex it’s often carried out among persons of the same sex. This goes for bullying on the playground, public shaming, mockery, approval and disapproval. It extends to corporal punishment. It’s not a coincidence that Cyril Smith was known for spanking little boys. But this isn’t the only side to the coin.

Child Rape Culture

The scale of sexual violence may reveal the depth of Britain’s rape culture. Quite rightly Richard Seymour refers us to Žižek’s writing on the Josef Fritzl case. As Seymour summarises, the key is the unconscious assumption of parental figures to absolute entitlement, absolute right to enjoyment, the use and disposal of ‘their’ child. In this case, elites takes on the role of parent and the children of the nation are ‘theirs’.

The ongoing torrent of scandals began with the revelations over Jimmy Savile. This was in late 2012. By that time Savile, had been dead for almost a year. ITV dug up just a sample of dirt on the Top of the Pops host. It was just the beginning of the beginning. In a matter of months, almost 600 victims came forward. Speculation has it Savile’s role as a fundraiser for charities, and his political connections, allowed him to run amok for decades.

This isn’t insignificant. Charities serve to funnel the proceeds of exploitation back into basic provisions for the needy and, in doing so, it reinforces these social conditions. Savile mostly preyed upon children at care homes, orphanages, even hospitals. It was the inversion of his work in philanthropy. The sex attacks confirm the dynamics of exploitation and domination. This went as far as Savile raising cash for hospitals before taking advantage of patients.

On a much smaller scale, Jimmy Savile was the precursor to the Live Aid format. By definition charity needs problems to remain in place for the sake of its own validation. It’s the same machinery for reality shows, which carry some kind of aspirational logic. In the same way, the Savile obscenities may really just be the symptom. Indeed, it’s only because the allegations against Savile are out in the open now. It’s what we don’t know that’s really terrifying.

Photographs courtesy of Ninian Reid and Raver Mikey. Published under a Creative Commons license.

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