Shirley Williams has come out, all guns blazing, her CV nailed to the mast, in defence of Lord Rennard, former LibDem chief executive.
Several women have accused Lord Rennard of sexual harassment, specifically of going further than ‘placing a hand on my knee,’ as one victim described the transgression. The press doesn’t report how much further, but then such details no longer matter in the general scheme of things.
It could have been placing a hand higher than a knee, it could have been rape – these days it could even be complimenting a woman on her appearance. Such misdeeds aren’t just committed against persons; they’re committed against the ethos, so the degree of severity is immaterial.
It still matters to some extent in a court of law although, given the prevailing trend, it’s hard to tell for how much longer such differentiation will persevere. But in any trial by media no extenuating circumstances are admissible. There the defendant is guilty as charged simply because he is charged.
Baroness Williams wouldn’t take it lying down, as it were. She sprang to Lord Rennard’s defence by claiming that, as Education Secretary in Wilson’s government back in the 1970s, she was regularly chased around the filing cabinets by ‘senior figures’, who were after a prize ‘worse than groping’.
She didn’t name any names, which leaves room for conjecture. Assuming that those in inferior positions wouldn’t have dared impose themselves on a senior colleague, one can limit the guessing game to a handful of players, of whom, according to the Baroness, ‘there was more than one.’ Wilson? Callaghan? One wishes old Shirley weren’t so discreet.
Running around office furniture she protested against such unwanted attentions, only to be told in no uncertain terms that ‘politics isn’t a soft business.’ By the sound of it, the business was very hard indeed. The Baroness omits any reference to the possible success or failure of any ‘senior figure’ in catching up with her, but then she’s entitled to her privacy.
Without in any way wishing to sound discourteous, Shirley’s photos from that period give little indication of what exactly could have inflamed her colleagues’ passions to such an extent, but then politicians aren’t known for their taste. Shirley could breathe and she had a pulse – what more did they need?
All this is fascinating stuff, though it’s not immediately clear how any of it is relevant. Surely attempted rape in the past (presumably that’s what ‘worse than groping’ means) can’t be used as justification for a similar transgression at present (‘worse than placing a hand on my knee’)? Either sexual harassment is wicked or it isn’t. If it isn’t, why are we talking about it at all? And if it is, then it’s like any other crime, where numerous similar incidents throughout history in no way excuse the one under current indictment.
Nor is it relevant to the matter at hand that, according to Baroness Williams, Lord Rennard is ‘a very fine man’. When it comes to this sort of thing, many a finer man has had his superlative traits overridden by momentary passions. Character references don’t cut much ice even in court, never mind in a trial by media.
Baroness William’s defence of Lord Rennard is pathetically weak, but then logic was never her major strength. Witness the fanatical zeal with which she pursued, when not being chased around filing cabinets, the destruction of grammar schools and their replacement with the idiot factories of comprehensives.
One wonders if there is a direct link between Shirley’s suffering at the hands of ‘senior figures’ and her desire to dumb down the whole nation. In common with other Leftie politicians she must have seen herself as a victim of the establishment – without realising that she herself was the establishment.
This pervasive culture of resentment had to extend to the very people in whose name the likes of the Baroness perpetrate their outrages. After all, the people stubbornly refused to revolt against the very establishment that pursued young Shirley around the House of Commons. What better revenge could she have exacted than creating an educational system that makes it possible for people to vote the likes of Tony Blair or Dave Cameron into power?
I don’t know if this exercise in cracker-barrel psychology makes any sense. Probably not. But then nothing else about our leaders does either. Shirley’s defence of Lord Rennard, for example, is silly. And one would be frustrated trying to detect a flicker of reason in her defence of comprehensive schools:
‘I have never in any way regretted them and I still believe strongly in them. The problem was that in many places they were heavily skimmed because people kept grammar schools in place beside them.’
Let me see if I get this right. Comprehensives failed because a few real schools were still around, and people could see the difference. Had every grammar school been demolished, rather than merely 99 percent of them, no one would have known any better.
Such is Shirley Williams’s revenge on Britain. She and her libidinous likeminded colleagues made sure few voters can any longer recognise their pronouncements for what they are: utter rubbish. Old Shirley has done to the country what those ‘senior figures’ tried to do to her.