I had almost forgotten about the London slaves, who were said to have been held captive in a house for 30 years, and then finally discovered in November 2013 when they were supposedly liberated by a charity.
Now it turns out that the authorities have finally come to a decision about the couple who allegedly held the slaves captive in a South London house. The wife has been told she will not be facing any charges, and the man has been remanded on a sexual charge. One presumes he is accused of having committed sex offences against some or all of the three women. The Police say: "A 73-year-old man arrested on Thursday 21 November 2013 in connection with an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude and further arrested in relation to serious sexual offences on Tuesday 29 July 2014 has been re-bailed to a date in mid-December."
As the jargon has it, this seems to be a case of Narrative Collapse. The women were not random citizen captured on the street, but members of a Maoist cult, and they are said to have gone out shopping during their supposed confinement. The Police originally spoke of “psychological handcuffs” to account for them not having escaped over the decades, until they did, indeed, escape by the stratagem of walking out the front door.
Why bother about this case? Credulity is inversely related to intelligence. The description of people being slaves brings to modern minds a black man captured in Africa, chained, transported to America, and beaten and abused on a sugarcane or cotton plantation. Those journalists, politicians, charity and Police spokespersons who spun the narrative on this case and who ensured it was given wide coverage in the media for many days were keen to use the concept of slavery as a legitimate description of what was in fact an odd household of self-selected ultra-leftists. They took journalists for fools, with some success, and the public for fools, perhaps with a little less success. Nonetheless, they got their headlines, and most citizens are trusting, or gullible, and those crucial headlines helped them convince politicians. The Modern Slavery Bill was presented to Parliament a month or two after the story was splashed in the media, and the Bill is making good progress, and is now at the Committee stage. Job done.
Postscript: If you and some of your old lovers are still hanging on in a neglected house, waiting for the revolution, or indeed the counter-revolution, and have a room with an old photo of Hitler, Stalin, Mao or, at a pinch, Che Guevara, pasted to the wall, perhaps you would like to give the freedom charity a call. Show some courage, tell your story, and hope it gets made into a film.
Remember John Maynard Keynes’ remark:
“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist.”