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29 January 2020

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TV review: The Trial of Christine Keeler

The Trial of Christine Keeler, photo BBC

The Trial of Christine Keeler, photo BBC   (Click to enlarge)

Derek McMillan

Benjamin Disraeli, two-time Tory prime minister in the nineteenth century, once said: "A Conservative government is an organised hypocrisy". The Christine Keeler story on BBC1 would seem to bear out that analysis.

I will avoid spoilers, but all the main events are in the public domain already. The politicians, press and police all come out of this disgracefully tarnished.

On the one hand, John Profumo, the defence minister (played by Ben Miles), lost his job in the Macmillan Tory government, in 1963.

On the other, of course, he remained a millionaire who did a bit of charity work on the side to salve his conscience. He received a CBE in 1975. You will be astonished to learn that Christine Keeler did not receive any such honour!

Christine Keeler, then a working-class 19-year-old aspiring model (played by Sophie Cookson), and her showgirl friend Mandy Rice-Davies (played by Ellie Bamber) both got jail time. Christine Keeler was accused of perjury.

Yet the series suggests that the police pressured both of them to give fake evidence against Stephen Ward, the society surgeon who introduced Keeler to Profumo. If that isn't perjury, what is?

The racism of the Met Police is also a feature of the series. If only things had changed!

The press routinely referred to them (without evidence) as "prostitutes". Prostitution was not a criminal offence. They were vilified in the media and the Conservative Party has never forgiven them. The scandal contributed to the Tories losing the 1964 election to Harold Wilson's Labour Party.

Stephen Ward (played by James Norton) found the ruling class closing ranks against him. The extraordinary waste of police manpower in 'gathering (very little) evidence' against him caused his patients to go elsewhere. He was driven to suicide and, for many people, his blood is on Conservative Party hands.

All of the performances are superb and bring this bit of history to life. But is it history? Or is the Conservative government an organised hypocrisy to this day?

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In The Socialist 29 January 2020:

What we think

No 'blank cheque' for Labour leadership candidates


End health and wealth divide - fight for our NHS

Unite union nominates Long-Bailey and Burgon

Coronavirus: capitalism limits response to viral outbreaks

HS2 debacle: nationalise rail and construction!

Johnson's Huawei internet deal underlines world trade tensions

Them & Us

Workplace news

University and College Union: Pensions, pay and conditions dispute reach a crucial stage

PCS union elections: Nominate candidates fighting austerity and for union democracy

Interview with a forestry worker

Westex carpet strike

Brexit and the economy

Brexit and British capitalism - why Johnson's juggernaut is set to jackknife

Stop the cuts

Fight the closure of Royal Glamorgan A&E

Save Hampden Nursery in Camden

We need socialists in London's City Hall

Unite regional committee votes to support anti-cuts Enfield councillor

Cuts to women's services cost lives


Socialist sellers: Opposing the Tories & fighting cuts

London protest against Modi's racist law

International news

Libya: Civil war and chaos follow interventions by world and regional powers

Trump's trashing of the environment - Dump the capitalist profit system!

CWI round-up

Readers' opinion

TV review: The Trial of Christine Keeler

The Socialist Inbox


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