Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ruth Bright calls on the Lib Dems to apologise over Cyril Smith

The Chief Executive of Rochdale Council has apologised for letting down the victims of Cyril Smith. It is time that the Liberal Democrats, as successor party to the Liberal Party made an apology to the victims too.
So says Ruth Bright, former councillor in Southwark and parliamentary Candidate for Hampshire East, on Liberal Democrat Voice.

She goes on to detail the action she wants to see from party:
An apology from the Leader of the Liberal Democrats that the party was unknowingly used as a front for Smith’s respectability. 
An inquiry into any remaining evidence about him within the party. 
A direction to the pastoral care officer to support any party activists who wish to talk about their own experiences with Smith. 
A direction that all references to Smith be removed from the Rochdale Lib Dems website (which has an extraordinary archive with cheery references to his 80th birthday and other events),
Every loyal to the party, Lib Dem Voice (which has disabled comments on Ruth's post) adds without comment the party's response to the Cyril Smith affair.

This states:
His actions were not known or condoned by the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats.
But that is not true. Anyone in the Liberal Party who read Private Eye would have been familiar with the allegations.

As I blogged in 2012:
I first heard of the allegations against Cyril Smith when I read them in Private Eye in 1979. The Eye had picked them up from the Rochdale Alternative Press (RAP - those were the days when any self-respecting town had an 'alternative' newspaper). ...
My instinct has always been to assume that they were true, if only because I could not see why anyone would trouble to invent anything so tawdry - he "'told me to take my trousers down and hit me four or five times on my bare buttocks" - about someone who was then only a local politician.
Of course, I did not know the allegations were true in 1979, and what was printed in Private Eye was a tame version of what has since emerged.

But those later developments cannot have come as too much of a shock to many people at the top of the party.


Mike Calf said...

Lib Dem Voice is not allowing comments on Cyril Smith owing to the ongoing child abuse inquiry. This is not a jury trial where sub judice rules reasonably apply. It shouldn't be used as an excuse for suppressing debate.

Does Ms Bright believe that the Rochdale Lib Dem website should not mention him at all?

Ruth Bright said...

Thanks for running this Jonathan. Mike if you look at the Rochdale site the references are purely positive - they must come down.

Unknown said...

"Ever loyal to the party." Actually, it's all about not having anything on there that might prejudice the enquiry or a future trial. I wouldn't e able to live with myself if I inadvertently published something that stopped someone getting justice.

I think your casting of the LDV position is extremely unfair.

Jonathan Calder said...

Caron, the sentence you object to is not concerned with your comments policy. That is mentioned in a subordinate clause (and in brackets) and I offer no judgement on it.

The sentence is concerned with your decision to add without comment the party's statement on Cyril Smith.

As I explain in my post, that statement worries me because I do not believe it is true.