It’s curious that the story about the National Council for Civil Liberties and its links with the Paedophile Information Exchange is big news now, since it’s been common knowledge for many years, and written about in the Catholic press on a number of occasions.
I researched the story back in 2006 or 2007, along with another journalist, and this was already then well-trampled territory, but the papers weren’t interested, despite my friend’s huge amount of work. He even went to Hull, I seem to remember. And back.
I only got as far as Cockfosters, which was then the improbable home of the Gay and Lesbian Newspaper Archives, which was where the various pamphlets produced by PIE were kept.
The articles were pretty much the standard turgid Marxist drivel, familiar to anyone who studied a humanities degree in the 1980s or 1990s. Unreadable, circular arguments, jargon and doublespeak, badly-written sentences designed to obscure the arguments; the main difference between this and any other cultural studies essay being that the end logic was ‘and that’s why I should be allowed to fiddle with kids’.
It now seems bizarre that elements of the New Left could possibly show sympathy to this movement, although there is the argument that from a civil liberties point of view NCCL were right. (The great Fergus McContrary makes this case in an interesting counterpoint in Spiked. Well worth a read.)
What were they thinking? Tom O’Carroll, the former chairman of PIE, has a theory, saying that the organisation was tolerated by the NCCL because it was among the ‘radical and liberal forces’ of the time. In others words, they were natural allies with a common enemy.