Saturday, 24 July 2010


Lord Mandelusion commits the ultimate self exposure by giving himself nicknames. A nickname is not something we can give to ourselves. It must be conferred by others since, in order to "take", it must be accurate. Pernicious Peter calls his autobiography "The Third Man".

Does his Grossness really see himself as a man who preens, cheats the sick and ends up in a sewer - admittedly an exact metaphor for parliament? Prince of Darkness? The symbol of ultimate evil. A curious label to hang on one's own neck, though perhaps understandable in one whose chosen public trait is the dark art of the devious; who apparently relishes his ability to inspire fear and loathing.

Priapic Pete? He was proud to be known as the Bobby Kennedy to Blair's Jack. Kennedy Pere was in league with the Mafia which helped his sons to power and was cheated by them. I have always thought their assassinations were contract killings.

Preening Peter has always puzzled me. Why is he surrounded by this steel bubble which makes him ultimately invulnerable? Policy Wonk Pete is said to be a political genius. Why? His only succcessful trick was simple enough. He got Labour elected by persuading its adherents to abandon bedrock Socialist policies and turning it into the Conservative Party. The Apostolic Peter's puppets even announced there were Thatcherite policies they would maintain. Which is a bit like that trick one teaches dogs, not to eat a treat you have balanced on its nose.

Big Deal. I have been pointing out for years that, whatever party they elect, the English vote Conservative. It is the Scots and the Welsh who are the socialists in religion, as in politics.

What, that apart, is Lord Meddlesome most famous for? He was the Midwife of the Millennium Dome, that costly failure, most famously the scene of a Hollywood style smash and grab of millions of fake gems. A Freudian symbol? He was heavily implicated in the Devolution Bill - which we are still paying. His party brought "Peace" to Ireland by freeing IRA murderers, giving their bloodstained leaders top jobs in mis-Government and only failing by the narrowest of margins to pay every terrorist £12,000.

He was twice thrown out of the Cabinet for acts that in Trollope would have been capital crimes. The party he invented ruined Britain with its Health and Safety obsession, its financial profligacy and its record of a new law every three quarters of an hour. Parliament presided over its own financial scandals by making illegal expenses lawful and endorsed by party leaders as a compensation for failng to award pay rises.

His financial trickery is hair raising. He was the architect of the most disastrous election campaign in history. He revels in his ability to inspire fear and loathing and he crowns it all by admitting he created a Cabinet of bitter factions, headed first by a political chancer who was succeeded without an election by a bully and apparent loon.

His only real success has been unwittingly to make a Coalition Government and deeply needed election reform attainable. It's just our luck it is headed by a Nowhere Man who thinks that in 1940 Britain was the junior partner of America. Those of us who remember 1940 do so as the year America bankrupted Britain by making us pay up front for the tools we needed "to finish the job".
It is as well for him that we are dying off with little sighs of relief.


A 'skidmoreislander' I know only as James responds to my panegeric about Bert Balmer by wondering whether he might have made up witness evidence in the Cameo cinema and Cranbourne Grove murders. I know nothing of the Cranbourne Grove affair. But by a strange accident I do have vital knowledge that in the Cameo cinema murder, the main prosecution evidence was false.
In 1949, the Liverpool cinema was the scene of a brutal double murder which led to a miscarriage of justice. The evidence of a prostitute and her pimp, Jacqueline Dickson and James Northam, resulted in life imprisonment for Charles Connolly, 26, and George Kelly, 27, being hanged.
Northam alleged that he and Dickson had been with the two when they plotted the crime; had seen Kelly loading a pistol. Kelly, they claimed, had borrowed Northam's overcoat for use as a disguise during the robbery.
Many witnesses confirmed that Kelly was clearly half drunk on the day. Cinema staff, however, were adamant the man who threatened them outside the manager's office was not somebody who had been drinking. My chum, Chief Superintendent Herbert Balmer who led the investigation, had difficulty in corroborating much of the prosecution evidence and many witness statements bore the sign of police coaching. Statements that favoured the accused men were held back by the police. Scant attention was paid to the fact that another Liverpool criminal, Donald Johnson, had demonstrated an intimate knowledge of the crime. Arrested for a street robbery in Birkenhead, Johnson had been charged with complicity in the murders. He admitted being in the vicinity of the cinema at the time of the murders. In fact he had been stopped by a police constable, suspicious of his loitering, who had demanded to see his identity card and then taken his name. Johnson, during police interrogation, referred to the murder weapon as being an automatic - which was correct but a fact known only to the police, the gunman and his accomplices, if any. He further stated that one of the dead men had been shot whilst on his hands and knees - again, a fact that only the police knew . Unaccountably, Johnson's entire statement was ruled inadmissible, and he was freed. Reputations and careers were in jeopardy and fresh suspects were needed.
At a retrial after the first, a jury failed to agree. Connolly pleaded guilty to charges of being an accessory. His plea destroyed Kelly's assertions of his own innocence and, despite an appeal against his conviction, Kelly was executed at Walton Prison on 28 March 1950. He continued to assert his innocence, even on the scaffold. Connolly was released from prison in 1957 and died in 1997. Shortly before his death, he took part in an interview on BBC Radio Merseyside, during which he reaffirmed both his and Kelly's innocence.
In February 2001 and in June 2003, Kelly's and Connolly's convictions were judged to be unsafe and were duly quashed.
Some months after the hanging, I was having a coffee in the early hours at a mobile snack bar in Piccadilly, Manchester. A young girl asked me to buy a sandwich for her and her boyfriend. She said they had not eaten for days.
The girl was Jacqueline Dickson and the boyfriend James Northam. He showed me the handgun he said he had bought after the trial after being threatened by associates of the two men. They had gone on the run and were desperate. They admitted they had made up their evidence and when I pointed out that if they confessed to a newspaper there was a few quid in it they jumped at the chance. I agreed to introduce them to some newspapermen and there followed a bizarre traipse round all the newspapers offering my sacrificial lambs. In turn the Express, the Mail, the News Chron and the Daily Dispatch turned them down. Some months later I read that the girl had gone to prison for demanding money with menaces from clients and thought I was lucky to get away with a Java and a sarnie.
So my answer, James, is that I don't know if Bert was bent. I think it more likely he was seizing at straws. Though I am never surprised when, as frequently happens, the police are shown to have charged the wrong culprit.