Friday, 16 November 2012

DAMAGE LIMITATION: Socrates & Cyril Smith

THE Rochdale Observer today did its level best to drag in anyone it could to try to rescue Cyril Smith's damaged reputation:  Jimmy Cricket's son, and Cyril's own Godson, Councillor Dale Mulgrew stepped up naturally; ex-Rochdale MP, Paul Rowen; brother Norman Smith; ex-Whitworth Councillor, Eileen Kershaw; Clive Entwistle, 'investigative journalist' formerly of the Rochdale Observer.  'Safeguarding children,' said Paul Rowan, 'is one of the most important issues we face (and) he (Cyril) did a lot in Rochdale to help young people...'; the widow of  Chief Inspector Derek Wheater of Rochdale CID, Jean Wheater, now in her 80s, has said:  'There's nothing in it... he was absolutely innocent'; Dale Mulgrew said:  'This is re-visiting an issue which was closed by the police during his lifetime and so it is unfortunate timing that it has resurfaced after his death.'  It will be very unfortunate for the Liberal Democrat Party indeed.

But, described as 'a close friend of Sir Cyril', Eileen Kershaw's comment that 'I worked with him at nearly every school governing body in Rochdale and never heard a whisper about him from any of the schools', is odd given the growing extent of the abuse allegations some now from the local schools.  Perhaps the most skillful effort at clearing Cyril is that of Clive Entwistle, a former Rochdale Observer reporter, he plays his cards carefully describing a chat with the great man at his home on Emma Street:  'During our talk Cyril was quite open and, in my opinion very honest about the problems of dealing with boys and young men at the time, who were rough, aggressive, lacked self-discipline, resented any sort of authority and had little regard for personal hygene.'  Well, there you go then, dirty little beggars - it's alright to scrub their balls.  Mr Entwistle enlightens us further:  'Cyril graphically described how boys reeked unsavourily, often suffering from infections and other ailments due to neglect, but still refused to wash or bath.'  Thus Cyril 'on medical advice, insisted the boys looked after their personal hygene and when they refused he admitted stripping them and, on occasion, slapped them on the bottom to make them take a bath.'  Furthermore, Entwistle writes:  'He (Cyril) admitted he had washed the boys' genitals but only because they steadfastly refused to was themselves', yet 'He (Cyril) was adamant there was no sexual intent in his actions.'   

All this Clive Entwistle seems to justify on the basis on historical relativism:
'In the the late 1950s and early 1960s the nation was still feeling the after-shocks-economic and structural-of World War Two.  It was also, a time when parents could legally smack their children, teachers administer corporal punishment in school... minor summary justice, not tolerated now, was the order of the day.'

These are the scenarios described by the lads in their accounts:  scrubbing and cleaning them down vigourously.  The accounts of the lads in the files suggest something like 'Fifty Shades of Grey' without the level of genuine negotiated contractual consent so described by EL James in her novel.  Entwistle writes:  'He (Cyril) saw something of himself in their (the lads) misfortune and wanted to give them hope and a chance.'  Cyril Smith, the Rochdale lad who says of himself in his autobiography 'BIG CYRIL''As a ragged-arsed kid, dressed in second hand clothes I knew the grinding poverty of a mill town in the thirties'.  Why does not Clive Entwistle go all the way in his cleansing account and liken Cyril to Socrates?  Then we might claim that Rochdale with its Boys' Hostels, pain and punishments, bath time treats, and slaps on the backside is really an Athens of the North, or maybe Sparta with its homosexual aspects.  Afterall, Bertrand Russell tells us that:  'Everyone is agreed that Socrates was very ugly; he had a snub nose and a considerable paunch; he was "uglier than all the Silenuses in the Satyric drama" (Xenophon)'

1 comment:

Anorak said...

Hi. Have you got a copy of the paper the quote by Entwistle comes from,or a link to it? Would love to see it...