I spent a couple of hours tonight reading around the history of the Elm Guest House. I’m not going to post links because there’s a ton of material out there, it’s easy enough to find and you’re better trawling through it yourself and arriving at your own judgement. Be warned, there’s plenty of sifting to do; you have to wade through acres of paranoid nonsense, mendacious sophistry and – most frustrating of all – valuable research undermined by partisan language and dreadful writing.
Taking all that into account, I find a core of consistent reporting sufficient to convince me that unimaginably terrible things were done to boys and young men at the Elm Guest House and other institutions in the 1970s and 1980s, up to and including their murder, all for the sexual gratification of men. I also find convincing evidence that those abusers included senior politicians, aristocrats and keepers of the law.
The crimes that were committed in that house don’t bear thinking about, and I’m certainly not going to repeat them here. As a father of three boys, they make me shudder. But what horrifies me as much is the overwhelming impression that, over the last thirty years, the establishment has closed ranks and decided that we, the lumpen proletariat, need not trouble ourselves with what happened at the Elm Guest House.
Here I depart from many of the conspiracy theorists. I don’t believe that the political elite, the landed aristocracy and the servants of the law are protecting themselves, or even their own kind; I believe that they think they are protecting democracy. I sincerely hope, and to some extent believe, that most of those who have impeded the progress of investigations and who continue to do so, share a natural revulsion for such abuse with the rest of us. But of even greater concern to them is their belief that acknowledging the crimes and abuses of a handful of powerful men would somehow undermine societal structure and the rule of law.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The gossamer thread that keeps us from revolution is our belief that the society we live in is reasonably just and reasonably fair. Well, that and inertia. But the governors and the keepers of law know – or ought to know – that if anything is going to goad us out of that inertia, it’s the visceral horror of the abuse of innocents.
The empowered few are nothing if not pragmatic. Their predecessors have made a bad call – a dreadful call – and the new generation should have the nous and maybe even the morality to realise that this particular front of the status quo is not going to hold. It’s still important that bad people should be called to account for their crimes, even if they are more important than the rest of us.