We can rely on the government to have our best interests at heart, right? Wrong. On July 20, I posted about the fact that the government is suppressing figures that highlight a link between benefit cuts for the most vulnerable and suicides (1). Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the ice berg. Political scandals and lies are an endemic feature of the UK establishment which stretch back decades (2). Here’s a couple of scandals that have recently come to light.
In his book, The Underground Serial Killer, former UK detective inspector for Scotland Yard, Geoff Platt, claims that the Home Office covered up a killer who pushed twelve people on to the tracks of the London Underground.
Mr Platt says police kept the claims quiet for fear of sparking a panic on the Underground (Getty)
Kiernan Kelly who is serving life in Wakefield prison, admitted to sixteen murders between 1953 and 1983, twelve of them on the underground. Platt said the records were not made public until last September. According to Platt, Kiernan targeted his victims on the Northern Line. In 1983, when in police custody, Kelly murdered his cell mate for snoring loudly. He then confessed to fifteen more killings.
He was charged with five counts, four underground killings and one for the murder in the cell. Platt said his research found an awful coincidence where people who had jumped on the Northern Line tracks had been standing near Kelly. Incredibly, Kelly gave witness statements to the police who failed to put two and two together.
In the early 1950s, Kelly spent time in Wandsworth prison. In the five days he was there, he had three days out. On each day, someone died on the tracks. “As soon as the story became clear, the Home Office made it perfectly clear they did not want the story to go any further”, said Platt. He added, “I can understand that the Home Office didn’t want people scared to travel”….Really? Wouldn’t you, dear reader, want information that somebody was pushing people onto the tracks on the underground made publicly available, particularly if you were travelling from Clapham on the Northern Line? I know I would.
Platt said, “The government were afraid of mass hysteria, not earning money or going to work.” So once again, it’s all about the money. Platt continued: “Now the case is in the public domain anybody who wants to can read about it.” That’s comforting! The Home Office said, “any evidence to suggest that a crime has been committed is a matter for the police.” The implication seems to be of the “so don’t question us, peasants” variety.
The fact that the government hides stuff from us in this way, is of course, in our own best interests. But it doesn’t end there. The European Union is suing the UK government because the air in the country is not fit to breath (3). For many years the government has been pushing the alleged benefits to the public of diesel. But then it was discovered it was diesel fumes that were killing thousands of people prematurely in London alone (4).
Although this has just come to light within the public domain, successive governments’ have known about this for over two decades. Scientists warned British ministers twenty two years ago that their planned ‘dash for diesel’ could cause a public health disaster but were ignored (5).
Concerns about air quality were sidelined by civil servants in favour of climate change (Alamy)
Almost 30,000 UK deaths a year from air pollution do not factor in lethal nitrogen dioxide from diesel engines (6) which when taken into account, pushes the figure to 50,000 deaths (7). In Europe, an estimated 500,000 people die prematurely as a result of air pollution every year, a figure that would be significantly higher had NO2 been factored in (8). Globally, a staggering 3.4 million people died from air pollution in 2010 (9).
In the UK, many deaths from diesel could have been prevented had ministers heeded a 1993 report handed to them by the environment secretary, John Gummer (10).The report said the impact of diesel vehicles on urban air quality is a serious one. Any increase in the proportion of diesel vehicles in urban streets is to be viewed with concern – diplomatic language for “you now have a greater chance of dying”. The documents show that concerns about air quality were sidelined by civil servants.
The annual death rate in England and Wales from illegal drugs that the government claims to be at war with, as of 2013, stood at 1,557 (11). And yet diesel omissions which contribute towards 50,000 deaths a year is somehow regarded as a low level risk.
In twenty years time will we be looking back in shock at the scandal of a government that is currently suppressing the link between benefit cuts for the most vulnerable and suicides in the same way as we are doing in relation to the two incidents described above that have come to light now? The only thing we learn from history, is the fact that we learn nothing from history.