Jimmy Savile and a wider culture of unaccountability
With the latest report on Jimmy Savile in mind, the even wider issue is that the lack of accountability of people in positions of power and influence generally is rapidly becoming one of the great stories of our time
The latest report about Jimmy Savile centring on Stoke Mandeville Hospital leaves one all but speechless. What does one really say about accounts of him abusing dead bodies?
The wider issue, of course, is one of accountability. Savile was one of the iconic media personalities of the post-War era. He believed he was above criticism, and even the law. Everything about the way he ran his life, and ruined the lives of others, shows that he was right.
Staff at Stoke Mandeville hospital, today's report found, said that they were worried that if they reported allegations of Savile's sexual abuse it would be they that would get into trouble. How many times have we heard other reports about whistleblowers being persecuted for revealing wrongdoing?
The even wider issue is that the lack of accountability of people in positions of power and influence generally is rapidly becoming one of the great stories of our time. The perception among the public that beyond a certain level of seniority, however defined, there is no real price to pay for wrongdoing or incompetence is taking deep roots.
In view of the massive financial and economic crisis that began in 2007/2008, what other conclusion is the public supposed to come to?
There were a few fall guys, of course. But whether they were bankers who simply failed to assess risk, regulators who couldn't spot a crisis that was staring them in the face, or politicians, of both right and left, who blew all our money so that when the proverbial hit the fan the cupboard was bare, or even media whose job it was to hold all of the above to account but didn't, who among them has really paid a price?
Most of the people who held positions of authority and influence in 2007/2008 still hold them today, or have gone on to comfortable retirement, their reputations intact.
It may seem a stretch to draw a connection between Jimmy Savile and the economic crisis. Of course, there is no comparison between child sex abuse and financial/political wrongdoing or incompetence. But it is the same culture of unaccountability that allows these things to happen.
The biggest lesson from the Savile affair is that it is this widespread culture of unaccountability that we must now address.
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