Poor Baby P. His was a death foretold. We were warned. All those reforms of child protection systems, and we lost sight of the child in peril. Reports will be written that slap the usual suspects â€“ professionals who failed to see the signs, or follow the guidelines, or communicate with each other, or get their files in order.
Anthony Hunt had been a magistrate and justice of the peace, a pillar of society. And then he became an emblem for angry, accused men when he mounted a case that threatened to throw a legal tsunami at the already lamentable prosecution of sex crime…
Here’s a piece first published in The Guardian in August 2004:
It would have been his idea of hell. When Greater Manchester’s former chief constable, James Anderton, accused the city’s gay population in 1987 of “swirling around in a human cesspit of their own making”, little did he know he would come to be regarded as one of the instigators of Britain’s gayest city, and perhaps the most successful gay village in Europe. The roll call would also have to include Margaret Thatcher, whose notorious Section 28 – a clause in the Local Government Act passed in 1988 – galvanised a spectacular coalition, ranging from theatre impresarios to librarians, to defend the right to a gay life. Neither could have anticipated how their crusades would conjure up a queer constituency. Back then, Canal Street in Manchester city centre was still a red-light district. Anderton, an evangelical Christian, encouraged his officers to stalk its dank alleys and expose anyone caught in a clinch, while police motorboats with spotlights cruised for gay men around the canal’s locks and bridges.
In October 1989 I interviewed Peter Mandelson about activism, Europe, and his shirt. Here’s a copy of of the full text as printed in Marxism Today:
Peter Mandelson is Labour’s director of communications
Let’s start with you as machiavellian man. How do you feel about the way you’re represented: image-making but no substance?
We can dispose of me pretty quickly: I think I do have substance. What the Labour Party has undergone during the last three to four years has been complex, challenging. It could not possibly have been undertaken by people without substance. The more important question is whether what has happened in the Labour Party has been a triumph of style over substance. And I would refute that utterly. Style is a necessary but insufficient condition for success. Ultimately a political party needs to be saying things which are in tune with people’s mainstream concerns and aspirations.