A good friend of mine told me not so long ago that a great many people were confused about where I stood on some issues. “The problem is”, she told me, “you appear to write something that appears to be supportive of one side and critical of another and then without blinking you’ll write something that appears to be sympathetic to the other side and critical of the side you appeared to support earlier and this confuses some people who are watching.”
My friend wasn’t being critical of me, she knows my thoughts only too well, she was just trying to explain to me why it is that I tend to get attacked from all sides because there is sometimes confusion about where I stand. The big problem as I see it is the perception that there are ‘sides’ and that we all need to pick one. It should be obvious, I hope, that I support CSA survivors, justice, and the CSA Inquiry but to my mind these principles aren’t controversial, most commentators on the CSA issue would say they support the same. If it isn’t a contradiction to say so, the entire debate has become fractured and polarised – shared agendas, mutual animosities, misplaced loyalties, and improbable alliances determine these ‘sides’ and they are forever shifting. Given that most genuinely believe they have honourable motives while at the same time too many act in the most appalling way, I’ve never felt any great compulsion to join a ‘side’ and that way I’m free to write as I wish and if some who self-identify with one particular side or the other are confused by this – if they read some things I write as being supportive of their ‘side’ and want to co-opt it while reading other things I write and wish to ignore or dismiss it – that is their choice but what I’m not going to do is feel bound to always write posts that support a particular view just because to do so would make my life more comfortable.
This, I suspect, will be one of those posts that will leave a lot of people on all ‘sides’ a little confused.
You see, I have a great deal of admiration for both DCI Paul Settle and Tom Watson MP. I think that Paul Settle and his team of police officers always acted diligently and pursued their investigations correctly under incredible public pressure and press scrutiny and I think that Tom Watson was courageous for championing the cause of CSA survivors and he is one of the few high profile public figures that actually ‘gets it’. However, it is symptomatic of the broader debate that those commentating online and in the press feel it necessary to perceive and then portray both of them either through rose tinted glasses or through a glass darkly depending on their already established positions.
Yesterday, Tom Watson made a short statement in the House of Commons (HERE) it was bold and justified given everything that he will know but then Tom Watson also released his letter to the DPP and gave an interview to Channel 4 News both of which contained thinly veiled criticism of DCI Paul Settle.
I’m afraid that my own view on this is that these criticisms, which I’ve highlighted in the copy of the DPP letter below, are that they read more like a reflection from that time of the Gospel according to Exaro in their bunker. Pretty much all of the potential problems that Tom Watson faces over this issue stem from his over-trusting relationship with Exaro News, everything else like his original PMQ which his political enemies have attempted to spin against him, can easily be justified and are actually to his credit.
Naturally, it can all be reasonably explained but who on either ‘side’ are prepared to listen to reasonable explanations ?
And now what ?
Well, my own prediction is that this is all now going to get very nasty indeed and as I like and admire both Paul Settle and Tom Watson, and as I feel no great passion to write a detailed running commentary on the finer points of who is right and wrong, or continually but vainly attempt to correct misperceptions when everybody else commentating will be deliberately trying to perpetuate them – my own position on this will be rather like the young boy in the classic 1953 Western Shane, pictured above. I’ll watch wide eyed and silent but when the bigger and powerful men start brawling I know that I’m going to keep out of the way and just try to dodge the occasional bit of furniture that might fly in my general direction.