The newspaper headlines that June morning made it clear that
Marjorys tenure as the Peoples Politician was over.
The Daily Courant was the most overt and blunt, as it usually
was: Peoples Politician linked to Paedo Porn Scandal.
Her image, associated with similar headlines, was splashed
across every paper, every website, every news channel and as usual, social
media took up the cudgel and ensured that there was hardly an individual in the
land who was not aware of the story, which ran as follows.
One of Marjorys sons, Peter I believe his name was, had
been arrested following a police raid that had found child pornography on his
computer. Hed served a short sentence many years previously for
attempting to groom a girl of 10 for sexual purposes so for many, his guilt was
assumed. He was a bad egg, of that there is no doubt, but it was the way the
establishment leapt upon this and the timing of the raid that made
my gut turn.
As the story broke, anyone with an opinion was asked what they
thought and, tellingly for me, MPs, to a man and woman toed what appeared to be
more than a party line it resembled a cultural line. None of them
demanded her resignation but talk of her position looking increasingly
untenable and how it would be difficult for her to survive
this planted the seeds for the onslaught that was to come. One MP even
suggested that this could just be the tip of the iceberg and that the police
could have stumbled across a paedophile network.
Cameras and reporters swarmed around her flat in East London.
They had waited patiently all morning for their prey and when Marjory did
finally emerge, they didnt hold back:
Did you know Peter was a pervert Marjory?
How long have you known about this?
Have you been protecting Peter, Marjory? How much did you
Do you think you are the right person to continue being
the Peoples Politician?
Have you brought paedophilia to the heart of Government
Will you resign over this Marjory? When will you be making
All of these and many other questions hit Marjory as she left
her front door. She didnt hear them all, mainly a blur of noise, but she
held her head high and tried to muscle her way through the throng to the tube
station, not uttering a word. They chased her, stalked her, taking photos,
filming, barking questions.
She finally made it to the station where the barrier guards,
having known Marjory for many years, fought to hold the pack back at the
entrance, allowing her to head for a subterranean sanctuary.
The harassment by the press continued for days both in person
and through their various outlets but Marjory said nothing, no official
statement, no passing comment. She probably thought that it was best to not
give them anything to feed on but in the absence of scraps, the press went
digging. They found that there were several perpetrators of relatively minor
misdemeanours in her extended family (shoplifting, driving offences and the
like) but there was also a cousin who had been jailed in the 70s for grievous
bodily harm and a brother who had been convicted of passing fraudulent cheques
12 years previously.
All of this was used by the press and in particular the
newspaper columnists and discussion sections on radio and on TV to suggest and
query and debate whether or not Marjory was fit for the office she held. She
was, so the general argument went, part of a legacy of criminality at worst and
moral weakness at best. On and on it went for days the longer she
remained silent on the accusations, the more the press, and by extension the
public, assumed her guilt and her inappropriateness for office.
I remember those TV broadcasts of Marjory going to and from her
flat in the beginning she held her normal air of defiance, her look of
just try it but as the days wore on and the coverage and rumour and
conjecture increased she gradually adopted a haunted look or was it more
hunted? Either way, the defiance had been diluted and it was obvious that she
was a woman feeling the singular pressure of a press feeding frenzy. But still
she said nothing to them despite many, many opportunities to give the
people your side of the story. She was too canny for that. She was more
than aware of how, once they had your words, the media could edit or
regurgitate them in any way that suited them.
But as far as her career as the Peoples Politician was
concerned, the press were the least of her concerns the politicians, who
had so deftly fed the mob at the outset of the scandal, had called her to
attend a Select Committee on Morality and Suitability. They could and would
force her to respond to the demands that the media claimed the people were
making of her. The MPs would force her to answer for her morality and
suitability to hold such a senior position.
Twelve days after the story first broke, Marjory was brought
before the Committee: This Committee, understanding the importance of the
role of the Peoples Politician, will seek to understand the suitability
of the incumbent to hold such an office and ascertain her moral appropriateness
to continue to deliver on her responsibilities to the satisfaction of the
I have no idea if Marjory could feel it but when I read that
mission statement I knew she was finished. The Committee hearing
was simply an exercise they had to go through to make her political demise
official. It was a standard tool used by the politicians to rubber stamp a
process they wished to pursue or to appear that they taking a particular issue
seriously on behalf of the electorate. Essentially, the Select Committee
process was used to pursue their own agendas and legitimise their behaviour and
Marjory was merely the latest component to be pushed through the process.
Marjory Mead you have been asked to appear before this
Committee to address concerns raised about your ability to continue in your
position as the Peoples Politician and appropriateness of you doing
With those words, Anthony Whittard, Conservative MP and Chair of
the Committee began proceedings. He was joined by five of his peers from across
the political spectrum Barbara Abbott, Conservative peer, Alan Berry,
Liberal MP, Nigel Green, Conservative MP, Geoff Harman, Labour MP and his
fellow party member, Louise Morgan. Together these individuals, who represented
the establishment and class that Marjory had dared to challenge, would decide
whether she was fit for the job.
This was not an honest and robust assessment by her peers but a
good old fashioned kangaroo court, a fact that was made clear from the outset.
It may not have been clear to the millions who watched proceedings at home, but
for those of us familiar with the process, the outcome was a foregone
Marjory, if I may call you Marjory Whittard purred.
You have become such a common feature of the public discourse these days
that you must forgive me if I am being overly familiar.
You go right ahead Anthony. Thats my name,
replied Marjory, curtly, with the emphasis on his name.
The Committee has been made aware of certain allegations
regarding your family circumstances that the House has asked us to look into to
ensure that they do not compromise your ability to execute your duties as the
Peoples Politician, continued Whittard.
I wish to make it a matter for the record that there are
no preconceptions as to the outcome of this hearing, that my colleagues and I
will approach the proceedings in a fair and impartial manner and that the sole
purpose of these sessions is to clear up any ambiguity that the recent,
unfortunate media scrutiny that you have endured is cleared up, he said
adjusting his gold rimmed spectacles with a nudge of his middle finger.
His colleagues murmured their agreement as Marjory stared ahead,
I believe my colleague Barbara Abbott would like to begin
proceedings today. Ms Abbott, if you would be so kind, said Whittard.
My thanks, Chair, said Abbott leaning round the
table to nod her gratitude. Marjory, if I may. It has been brought to our
attention by various reports in the media that there is a certain amount of
criminality in the history of your family. We are talking about assault,
grievous bodily harm according to police records, forgery and fraud, theft; the
list goes on.
What I would like to know is whether you agree that this
thread of criminality, putting aside the most serious and most recent of these
allegations which we will get to in due course, is an inherent part of the
makeup of your family. Is this just the way your people behave?
Marjory sat facing her inquisitors, isolated. She had declined
her right to counsel on the grounds she could not justify the cost to the
taxpayer to simply defend her position. So she sat alone, faced the Committee
and cleared her throat, readying herself for defence.
Barbara. I find you line of questioning very offensive.
Are you suggesting that my family, including me, are in some way compelled to
break the law? Because if you are you can be assured that I wont stand
for that. Not for one minute, replied Marjory.
Before she could continue though, Nigel Green took over the
But Marjory, the facts cannot be ignored. There is a
pattern of offending in your family and it is only proper and right,
considering the high office that you hold and the responsibilities that come
with that office, that we, the public, are assured of your moral
Never mind the fancy talk. You are saying that because
there has been criminality in my family that we are all criminals. Arent
you? Thats what you are trying to get at. Lets not waste any more
time and cut to the chase. You are suggesting that I am somehow drawn to
criminality because of my family history, arent you? Marjory
replied, her chest puffing out, arms folded.
Marjory, it is a valid question. We are not going to get
into a debate about nature versus nurture at this hearing, cut in
Whittard, but this pattern of law breaking within your family must be
addressed. The people must have faith in the individual who performs the duties
of the Peoples Politician and that is why we are here.
As I made clear at the outset, we have not come here with
a pre-determined view of this situation but we simply must clear away any
ambiguity surrounding the recent allegations which will hopefully allow you to
continue to execute your duties in the admirable way you have to date.
Ms Abbott, if you would care to continue.
Thankyou Chair. Now Marjory ...
I prefer that you refer to me as Ms Mead if you dont
mind, interrupted Marjory. If you are going to talk to me with such
little respect I would like you to address me more formally.
Of course, Ms Mead, responded Abbott, a patronising
tone entering her speech. As I was saying, it is undeniable that there
is a high frequency of law breaking within your own and your wider family. It
is perfectly legitimate for this Committee, on behalf of the people, to
understand if this is a pattern of behaviour, if this is a habit if you will,
that is inherent in your family and likely to continue.
Your office must maintain the highest moral standards and
therefore it is vital that these standards can and will be upheld under your
stewardship. Your ability to do this is what we are hoping to establish here
today so please, Ms Abbott, do you feel that there is a problem with
criminality within your family, one that would prevent you from protecting the
dignity of the role of Peoples Politician? Abbott leaned forward as
she finished, placing grave emphasis on the word dignity.
Dignity? You want to talk about maintaining dignity?
snorted Marjory. This coming from a class of people who have robbed and
swindled the electorate with your abuse of the expenses system. I cant
believe you have the nerve to talk to ME about morality. Where do you get off
Abbott? Where do any of you get off dragging me in front of you like some badly
behaved schoolgirl ...?
Marjory, Marjory, interrupted Whittard.
Please, lets not get confrontational here. We are simply trying to
ensure what we all believe to be true is in fact the case that you are
able to fulfil your role without the circus that surrounds your family
distracting you and the people from the important work that you do.
I, having been chosen as the Peoples Politician,
should be the one scrutinising you, Marjory spat back. What you lot
have done is utterly despicable. You have stolen, you have lied and you have
compounded that lie with other lies to hide what you have done.
If anyones ability to fulfil the roles of Government
should be called into question, it is you, the politicians. You should be
begging the electorate for forgiveness rather than distracting them with this
little circus, as you call it, that you have engineered.
Marjory turned slightly to her left, crossing her ample legs as
she did so. The effect was to appear to be turning away from the panel in
defiance without actually doing so, an effect that was not missed by her
Having had her turn and not received a suitable answer, Abbott
gave way to her colleagues and they chipped away at Marjory on the same
question asked in different ways, all to the same general effect Marjory
kept throwing the accusations back in the face of her accusers. She was
indignant, disgusted and not afraid to show it. She had long since lost any
respect she once had for the political class and now, subjected to one of their
most effective instruments of terror, she felt she had nothing to lose and
freely spoke her mind.
The questions continued to bounce off Marjorys defiance
for several hours. The hearing took a lunch break and reconvened at 2pm.
Watching from my office in Whitehall, I could sense there was a change in the
mood as everyone filed back in. I couldnt pinpoint it but as the
ministers took their seats, they seemed to have a new air of authority about
them. They seemed confident. Marjory looked much the same defiant.
OK, thanks for joining us again Marjory, started
Was there a choice? Marjory responded casually as
she turned to look at the benches behind her.
It has been a rather confrontational meeting so far
Marjory so Im going to look at this from a different angle and I must
warn you that I aim to be blunt. Not out of malice but of necessity. Can we all
turn our attentions to the incident that sparked the media interest. The case
of your son Marjory, said Whittard sorting through his papers.
At this, Marjory went pale. She shifted in her seat, turning to
face the panel directly. They had her absolute attention now.
Now your son, Marjory, has been charged with possession of
child pornography and is currently on police bail. Are those the facts?
Yes, replied Marjory in a small voice.
Sorry, I didnt quite hear that, said Alan
Berry, too loud, too confident. Braying almost. Has your son been
arrested for possessing pornographic images of children Ms Mead?
Yes, you know he has so Im not entirely sure what
the purpose of this is, said Marjory.
It is important that we establish the facts, Marjory, and
in this case, this is a particularly important fact, continues Berry.
Chair, may I continue? he asked leaning round to
catch Whittards eye.
Of course, carry on.
With thanks, Chair. Ms Mead, you may not see the relevance
of this but let me explain it to you as it is really rather pertinent,
said Berry, his voice warming up.
By all means, said Marjory. The defiance was there,
but it was weakening. This was an issue that hurt her deeply and the
politicians knew it. It was now clear why they had re-entered the room with
This son of yours is an habitual pervert, a monster as
some sections of the media would have it.
Marjory looked straight at Berry but did not utter a word, did
not move a muscle.
Would you agree with that appraisal Ms Mead? That your son
is an habitual pervert, a monster?
Hes not a monster Berry, hes a sick man and we
are trying to get him the help he needs.
So you still defend him? asked Berry in mock
incredulity. Surely it is not he that requires help but his poor,
Look, my son is innocent until proven guilty. That is the
law in this country and you would do well to remember that, said Marjory,
her voice rising in tone, as her temper started to find its edge.
Of course of course, soothed Berry, but this
isnt the first time is it Marjory? This son of yours is an habitual
pervert, isnt he?
Stop calling him that! Has he got problems? Yes. Has he
had a perfect life? No. But hes not a monster hes my son and
until he is found guilty, I will defend him as is my right as a mother,
Whats the point of all this anyway? What has this
got to do with my ability to do the job? she asked the panel as a whole.
Chair if I may pick this up here? It was
By all means, said Whittard.
My thanks, Chair. Ms Mead, if I may, can I suggest that
this has everything to do with you and your ability to perform your
Go on. I can see where this is going but I cant
quite believe you have the nerve. But go on, smiled Marjory, a thin,
Several times today you have requested that we get to the
point and I intend to do just that. Lets look at the facts. You come from
a family that has produced several criminals lets not split hairs,
that is what they are and more than that, you have raised, nurtured
even, a paedophile, one that you continue to share a home with. One that you
continue to harbour ...
How dare you! How fuc ... Marjory caught herself.
She stopped, regained her composure.
You cannot possibly be suggesting that what my son may or
may NOT have done is due to his upbringing. That is a disgusting charge!
she said in a low, deep voice.
Of course not Ms Mead but the facts, I believe, speak for
themselves, responded Morgan. It cannot be denied that the history
of crime in your family and the most recent charges laid against your son
cannot in some way result in the people questioning your judgement and
suitability for your current role. It is our job, here today, to establish how
much of these environmental, familial issues impact your suitability for the
Outrage is not going to help. I know this may be difficult
but it is important that you keep a cool head Ms Mead and allow us to perform
At this, Marjory stood up. She was an imposing woman when
showing her full height and width. Hands placed firmly on the table, palms
down, she addressed the panel: You may think Im an idiot, just as
you assume all those who vote for you are idiots, but I and we are not. I
understand fully what is happening here and I understand that my time is up.
You have no intention of allowing me to continue as the Peoples
Politician and that this is just your way of ensuring that I dont
Ms Mead, please sit down and respect the dignity of the
Committee, said Whittard.
Im not done! replied Marjory firmly, holding
Whittards gaze until he averted his own. I went for this job
because I thought I could make a real difference and get people engaged in
politics again. And do you know what? I thought that was what you lot wanted
But, and at this point, it was possible to see her
shoulders droop a little, Its obvious to me that every single last
one of you is out for what you can get for yourselves. Youre like a
private members club, elitist, snobby and happy to shit on everyone else
if it means you get your way.
Ms Mead, I must object, said Whittard. I
understand that your emotions are running high and that this is a very
emotional time, but we cannot and will not accept foul language being used
before the Committee.
I told you, Im not finished, said Marjory.
Again she stared at Whittard until he could bear no more and went back to his
papers. Dont worry, Ill let you know when I am
finished, she said in the manner of a mother to a child.
Im heartbroken, not because of today or because of
what is happening to my son but because there is no way of changing you people.
You are so far removed from the man and woman on the street that it is
difficult to see how you can ever relate to them never mind empathise with
You disgust me. You really, really disgust me and I hope
you understand that it takes a lot for me to really be disgusted with someone
It surely must to continue to live with that
monster, Berry said barely under his breath.
Marjory heard it but carried on regardless.
You really are scum. You rob the people you are supposed
to be representing and feel absolutely no shame about it. You act as though it
is we, the people, who are out of synch with normality. If you feel so little
shame for defrauding the country then I shudder to think what else you have all
been up to.
Im heartbroken, she repeated.
Heartbroken that the country I love has been annexed to serve the needs
of you lot. Well let me tell you something we are not worker bees,
drones, making honey for the queen. You are supposed to represent our
interests, fight our corner, do what is best for the country and for us. When
did you forget that? Did you ever even understand that?
Are you quite finished? barked Whittard.
Answer my question, responded Marjory. Did you
ever even understand what your role is?
We will be asking the questions here thank you very much
Ms Mead, said Whittard, shuffling through his papers dramatically.
Marjory smiled, ironically, and sat down again.
I think weve heard enough Ms Mead. We will inform
you of our decision in the coming days and you will hear from us directly as to
whether we believe you are a suitable individual to be holding the post of the
But I would like to say one last thing before the
Committee breaks, and I want the record to clearly reflect my remarks. You have
accused the elected members of Parliament of baseless immorality. I put it to
you Ms Mead that those who dwell in glass houses should not throw stones.
Lest we forget, you are a member of an habitually criminal
family, one that has indulged in nearly every type of criminality and that you
continue to harbour a son who has in the past committed one of the most
disgusting and depraved crimes of all and stands accused of repeating that
For you to have the audacity to stand in front of this
panel and suggest that it is we who are lacking in morals is simply outrageous.
I will leave you with this thought you would do well to look at your own
situation, your own morals and your own behaviour before casting aspersions on
And reflect on this, and I suggest you reflect hard
there is an old saying that I am rather fond of and I think it applies
perfectly to your situation. The apple never falls far from the tree Ms Mead.
We all have to take responsibility for our actions, whatever their consequences
and you would do well to remember that.
Whittard removed his glasses and as one, the Committe rose to
depart. Just under the noise created by the movement of feet and papers,
Marjory could be heard to utter a low but firm fuck you to the
panel. She remained seated, still isolated, as the chamber emptied. She
remained there until the cameras were switched off.
It was obvious what the outcome would be Marjory would be
stripped of her post and we would once again have to find another Peoples
Politician. It was only a matter of time, a matter of protocol, before the
Committee came back with their recommendations. Everyone who had watched that
little farce understood that. We could all see it.
What we could not see was Marjorys flat, two days later,
still surrounded by the press. In the dark, musty bedroom, Marjorys
lifeless body lay on the bed. Some would later say that she had taken the easy
way out, the selfish way out of her problems. Still others suggested that it
was an admission of guilt of sorts for the way her son turned out and that the
Committee had been right about her.
As I saw it, as the news of her suicide was broadcast on all the
main news bulletins, she had been hounded into taking her life. The way she had
been treated by the Committee was, as far as I was concerned, an affront to our
Marjory had done her best and she had of course, as we all do,
made mistakes. But the biggest mistake she made was to challenge the
politicians. They would take a lot from the public but a challenge to their
very own status quo? That could not be tolerated and every tool of the
establishment available to them would be used to pummel, beat and ultimately
destroy Marjory and it was sickening to witness.
Only two days after Marjory was buried at a small, private
service, the politicians once again had their gameshow on the go, looking for
the next mug to provide the democratic sheen to their operations. The lack of
empathy with what had happened to Marjory shocked me. It felt like they had
found a new level of boldness. They were behaving more brazenly than ever and
it seemed they just didnt care anymore. They wanted to flaunt their
control, their impunity. They were in charge and nothing could change that. Not
any individual, not even the collective will of the people.
For the politicians, Marjorys death encouraged them to
take the foot off the brakes. To maintain the pretence a little less
vigorously. They behaved with a new impunity and they grew arrogant with it.
But what the politicians could not see was that for one individual, who had
taken great interest in Marjorys experience, the whole episode acted as a
spur to not just reapply the brakes but to pull the whole vehicle apart.