Labour's paedophile problem is more about press regulation
If the Roman Catholic Church had forged links - even as far back as the 1970s - with something called the Paedophile Information Exchange, the political outrage and media onslaught would have been monumental. Certainly, there have been many thousands of appalling cases and a chronic culture of cover-up, but no one can pretend that this was countenanced by canon lawyers or advocated by the Magisterium. Similarly, if the BBC were found to have proven historic (= Savile-era) connections with a group which favoured easing restrictions on child pornography; advocated a more relaxed attitude to paedophilia; proposed the legalisation of incest; and wanted to lower the age of consent to 10, there would be urgent demands for a public inquiry, with immediate suspensions and assurances in Parliament that heads will roll.
But when three current Labour politicians - former officers of National Council for Civil Liberties - are confronted with documented links to something that really was called the Paedophile Information Exchange, and when it is set down in black and white that this group really did agitate for all of the aforementioned 'progressive' policies, you have to wonder why Ed Miliband has not at least instigated an internal inquiry and done a few background checks on Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and (former MP) Patricia Hewitt. Instead, he declared that he doesn't "set any store by these allegations", and that Harriet Harman in particular is a person of "huge decency and integrity".
The evidence (if it be) has been set out in the Daily Mail, even alleging that "the Labour government of the time may have helped finance the organisation". Unsurprisingly, Ms Harman has dismissed this as a politically motivated campaign - a smear, indeed, of the most despicable Dacre sort, to which depths of journalism neither she nor Labour would ever stoop.
The thing is, Pope Benedict XVI spent much of his pontificate issuing profuse expressions of remorse and repentance on behalf of his church for the heinous acts of paedophile priests and the post-conciliar hierarchical conspiracy of cover-up. And the BBC is still apologising over its 1970s "groupie" culture of misogynistic permissiveness and predatory paedophilia. Both institutions are horrified and appalled - 40 years on - that they did nothing to protect so many vulnerable victims over such a long period. But at least the perpetrators are now being held to account - one of them even post mortem.
But last night Harriet Harman refused eight times to accept that her connection with the Paedophile Information Exchange was a mistake. This is not just any Labour politician: it is the party's Deputy Leader. She didn't just deflect the question once: she side-stepped it eight times. She has 'clarified' her position this morning in a hastily-penned statement of 'regret', but that doesn't quite explain her cagey obfuscation last night on Newsnight.
It is curious how Mr & Mrs Jack Dromey are more concerned with rubbishing Dacre and berating the Mail than they are with repudiating a group which sought to take advantage of children. If it is moral and just to arrest aging entertainers and prosecute abusive priests in their 70s and 80s, how can it not be right to investigate the alleged links between Labour, the NCCL and PIE? Is the Mail's political smear agenda really more repugnant than historic matters of child abuse, rape and torture?
Or is Harriet Harman's real objective here to situate herself and her husband as latter-day Dowlers - the latest victims of vile press abuse - and thereby reinforce the need for a Leveson framework of press control to protect the poor and vulnerable (and the rich and powerful)?