by Richard Scorer
“After that meeting, we never heard another thing. No letter, no phone call, I never, ever saw him speak about it. In fact, whenever I saw Jeremy afterwards, at Stop The War marches and events like that, I’d always go up to him and say: ‘This scandal is still going on, Jeremy.’ He’d be very polite, but he never did anything.”
These are the words of Liz Davies, a former social worker who tried to blow the whistle on the sexual abuse of children in council-run care homes in Islington in the 1980s and 1990s. Davies was talking recently to the Daily Mail about her attempts to persuade her local MP, Jeremy Corbyn, to support victims and whistleblowers -and his silence on a major public scandal.
For readers unfamiliar with events in Islington, a brief synopsis: in the 1980s and 1990s, children were abused in Islington council care homes on a shocking scale. An official report in 1995 blamed the scandal on the policies of Islington’s hard left council, which came to power in 1982, and condemned its response in damning terms. A particularly abhorrent feature was the way whistleblowers were accused of homophobia, and victims derided: the then council leader eventually had to apologise to one of the victims for dismissing his allegations as those of an “extremely disturbed person.”
It’s pretty indisputable that throughout this appalling saga, Corbyn remained virtually silent; apart from a couple of brief statements in the early 90s calling for allegations to be investigated, he said next to nothing. This, it should be remembered, was a long-running scandal in Corbyn’s own constituency, and over the same decades, Corbyn called for public inquiries into Bloody Sunday, Iraq and the death of anti-nuclear protester Hilda Murrell. Not to mention the tendering process for local bus routes.
The Daily Mail piece aside, Corbyn’s lamentable record over child abuse in Islington has attracted little comment. John Mann, the Labour MP and anti-abuse campaigner, recently published an open letter accusing Corbyn of “doing nothing” to prevent the abuse.
“Your inaction in the 1980s and 1990s says a lot – not about your personal character, which I admire, but about your politics, which I do not.”