The real Geoffrey Dickens
We may still live to applaud Geoffrey Dickens as a campaigning hero, for producing his dossier on child abuse (and we wait to hear the outcome, and whether the rest of it is "found"). But I couldn't have been the only 50 something to do a doubletake, and say "Geoffrey Dickens"?
He died in 1995 and when I was young/in my prime, Dickens was a by-word for obsessional idiocy -- or for rank and file, red top Tory politics (sorry I'm probably being a snob here, and nil de mortuis etc, but you know what I mean).
In 1986, he introduced a bill trying to re-introduce capital punishment for the murder of children (suggesting that Brady and Hindley might not have done their crimes, if they had not heard that the Labour government was planning to abolish the death penalty: really?)
And there was more of the same.
Dickens clashed with Clare Short over her campaign against the Sun's page 3; he agreed to be photographed with a page 3 girl, then apologised (here is Short's account). He had dangerously close to anti-semitic views on the Middle East (though more people ridiculed his ignorance on the region) and he vaunted on one occasion that "I want to do a favour for every woman in this country". He apparently called a press conference to announce an affair he was having -- without it is said having told his wife.
None of this means that he is wrong about his dossier. It is a good lesson to learn that even the obsessional can sometimes be right. But if you are like me and you lived through the Dickens era, it is a bit hard to take the current eulogies.
Of course we should take his allegations seriously. But those of us who remember the right wing rent-a-quote Dickens do have a bit of a blink here,