“Thank you, Mr Speaker.
“My fellow members of parliament, as elected officials, it is our duty to represent our constituents and their best interests with honesty and courage. I wish to draw attention today to a glaring failure of that duty—my own. But it is not only my own. There are many other guilty parties present in this room. For too long, we have turned a blind eye to a festering wound in our great nation; we have patched it with a bandage and hoped no one would notice. But the stench of gangrenous flesh stings my nostrils, and I can no longer bare it. Yes, from my lofty, privileged position, even I cannot avoid it. And if it is so with me, how much more for the good citizens of England—its workers, its mothers and fathers, its elderly, and—God help us—its youth? There is unchecked rot in our midst, and I must peel back the crusty, blood-stained bandage and expose it. And in exposing it, my hope is that we acknowledge the need for drastic remedy.
“Organised crime is a lethal scourge in this country. Though no nation, no people is perfect, we Britons were once proud, moral and brave. We revered goodness, and abhorred evil. How our standards have slipped. Goodness is now an inconvenience, and evil is tolerated, if not exalted. The British mafia, once a petty underworld of the shadows, is now flourishing in every city and crushing our society in its cruel and increasingly emboldened grip. Drugs and violence openly pervade our streets, extortion is commonplace, good citizens live in fear, and in response we in power neither raise an eyebrow nor lift a finger. On Tuesday, seven people were tied up and shot dead at point blank range in a spray tanning salon in Bolton. Three of the victims were known mob figures, but the other four, it seemed, committed no crime other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But where is the outrage? Where is the mourning? Where is the shame? Where is the justice? Not a peep was heard. Not a single television media outlet reported the horrific incident, and the one major newspaper that covered the story felt it deserved no more than a short paragraph on page seventeen. The League Two football results received more attention.
“Compounding this despicable truth is the fact that I have told you nothing you don’t already know. Evil triumphs, and good men and women—for so voters believed us to be—do nothing. And while I point the finger at you today, know that I point it also at myself. Yes, I am the chief offender. Twenty-four years I have served my constituency, or rather been propped up by it. I am an actor, enjoying a free ride. Once, I declare, a noble heart beat in this breast of mine, but it was long ago silenced and set aside. As a young, passionate man politics beckoned me, and as a foolish, greedy man I took the bait. Where I should have set my heart on sacrifice and hard work, I instead followed my eyes to the perks of public service. After campaigning tirelessly to win my first election—giving speeches, promising action, attending functions, learning the names and stories of hundreds of voters and presenting myself as the best person for the job—what was my first act? A cocaine-fuelled celebration in the hired company of four high-end prostitutes.
“It got worse from there.
“Morality eroded as easily and subtly and just as surely as the tide washes sandcastles from the beach. Within months I lost count of the bribe money I had accepted. I made friends of the most powerful and unscrupulous men humanity has to offer, and I did it because they gave me power and money and assured me re-election. I turned a blind eye to crime and corruption, I lined my pockets, I slept with six hundred and twenty-two women, I feasted on the taxpayer coin—all while spouting my slogan, ‘Barry Shepherd—the man to trust.’ I ensured another person took the fall for my misdemeanours. In 1992, a forty-one-year-old waitress named Olga Noonan was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to twelve years in prison. She committed no such thing. It was I who was guilty, but certain associates had arranged for Olga’s identity rather than mine to be tied to the shady three hundred-thousand-pound sum. With it I bought a cottage in Scotland, part ownership of a racehorse, and paid for seven high-end prostitutes. Mrs Noonan died in a car crash three months after her prison release. I never lost a wink of sleep over it.
“But now I cannot keep lying, not when such evil struts among us, without fear of punishment. Why my change of heart? Purely selfish reasons, I admit. My son, you would have heard, died recently. By suicide, according to the official reports. But six bullets to the back of the head is, I believe, too difficult a suicide for any man to perform. My son was killed by the mafia, this is well known. Too many sons have died at its hand. Enough. I can abide it no longer. We have the power to act, and we must. I see many of you shifting in your seats, and, yes, it seems not one of you can bring yourself to look me in the eye. We have all taken money from the mob. We have all sold our souls. But we have a chance to redeem ourselves, to put things right. We have the power if we will only use it. They came for my son, and they will come for me. So be it. But you are fools, all of you, if you think they will not come for you too. Keep the mob happy, you think, and all will be well. Well, let me break the uncomfortable news to you that a slave has no bargaining rights. And you are their slaves. They will come for you. Either we destroy the crime organisations in this country, or organised crime will destroy us.
“You hide from men like Merle Cavendish, Salvatore Conch and Jimmy O’Shea, thinking you will be safe. But with these men there is no safety, except to join together and strike back. Jimmy O’Shea is suspected of over eighty murders, nineteen of them high profile, and rumoured to have committed scores more. Do you think he will have any trouble getting his hands on you? Do you think he fears your position? It was likely he who put you in your position. What will all the money and prestige and high-end prostitutes avail you the day Biscuits O’Shea comes knocking on your door? We must put aside partisan disputes and personal gain, and end this scourge, for the sake of England. The only other option is to relinquish our land and our children to the likes of Biscuits O’Shea. And there is no hope for the man who faces his wrath.”
—A speech to parliament by Barry Shepherd, Member for Oldham, September 8th, 2005. Mr Shepherd’s severely burned body was discovered four days later in a public swimming pool.
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