Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Who was Widgery and why did he lie?

Widgery, like the unfortunate Hutton, will go down in a footnote of history as bent inquiry chairmen, whitewashers, obedient to the political class rather than to truth and to honour.

He rose from a typical pre-war middle class family and as was more normal then did not go up to university but rather became an articled clerk and then solicitor in 1933. Obtaining his territorial commission just prior to the outbreak of war, he had a 'good war' as a gunner, where his 'administrative' skills were valued. He accumulated 'headquarters' medals including the OBE, Croix de Guerre and some Belgian order but the MC or DSO eluded him. He finished as a Brigadier.

After the war he upgraded to the Bar, and a combination of good luck, being in the right place at the right time and establishment toadishness secured him promotion, eventually to the job of Lord Chief Justice. It has never been suggested that he was particularly clever, or legally gifted. The most that commentators grant is that 'he was good at administration'.

His whitewash findings into Bloody Sunday, overturned by Saville, were no surprise to anyone.

He continued to sit long after dementia had eaten into his 'administrative' mind; wig askew, 'he keeps up a muttered commentary of bad-tempered and irrelevant questions – 'What d'you say?', 'Speak up', 'Don't shout', 'Whipper-snapper', etc.'

His lies and distortions were also responsible for decades of hatred and mistrust, and his whitewash report no doubt fuelled further violence in the Province and cost many lives.


Budgie said...

Sorry Raedwald, I cannot agree with most of your points. Firstly Saville could be just as biased as Widgery, only in the opposite direction: hardly surprising when Saville was set up to appease the IRA thugs, now performing as 'sober' government ministers.

Too much of this has the whiff of politics, not truth, to satisfy me. History is written by the victors and that is the IRA. Yet the they could have been defeated. It is often forgotten that the IRA was a Marxist faction. When the Berlin Wall fell the IRA were left, politically, high and dry. Instead of squashing them at this point, Major (being typically an English appeaser) started negotiating.

I bet the IRA could hardly believe their own luck - invited to the 'top' table of Irish/UK politics just at the point they were weakest. Thus the thugs, murderers, torturers and totalitarians were inducted into the cosy troughing world of UK politics.

The fact is the soldiers would not have been there at all, if it had not been for the mafia/marxist IRA.

Anonymous said...

My hope is that this report will just close the whole episode off. I worry that some from Derry will want to take this further. I hope not.

Coney Island

English Pensioner said...

Enquiries work on the "if at first you don't succeed....." principle, exactly the same as EU referenda.

I believe this report no more than I believe the Hutton report

Young Mr. Brown said...

Firstly Saville could be just as biased as Widgery, only in the opposite direction.

"I believe this report no more than I believe the Hutton report"

Fair point. Why should we believe Saville?

My inclination is to see no reason why Lord Saville should be believed to be either biassed or stupid.

Maybe we now need an enquiry into the Widgery Enquiry and how it managed to get it wrong. Or perhaps, in the interests of fairness, we ought to have an enquiry that looks at both the Widgery and Saville Reports and seeks to elucidate which, if either, got it right.

Anonymous said...

With respect, Ockham's razor says to me that counting the bodies will suggest how the game went.

Apart from the facts, in republican and socialist mythology, Bloody Sunday said that political and non-violent (hah!) action in Northern Ireland couldn't work. That was the legacy of Widgery.

Whatever the truth of Bloody Sunday and 1 Para etc, I would hope that lessons from the perspective of control of narrative, mythology and the propaganda conflict will be learned. The Widgery report was a propaganda failure.


William Gruff said...

Reading your adumbration of Widgery's career, Radders, I was struck by his similarity to The Noble Lord Widmerpool.

That notwithstanding, Budgie and English Pensioner have hit the nail on the head, and those who hope that the Saville Report brings the 'Bloody Sunday' circus to a close are whistling in the wind. There's money, English money, to be made out of this very Br*tish mess and some of our 'compatriots' in this 'united' kingdom will use their victory to score others. Demands for enquiries into other 'massacres' have already been made and substantial damages claims cannot be long delayed.