Sunday, November 23, 2008

Smith Used Sex To Sway Voters

Plans to punish punters who pay for sex have been exposed as a cheap election gimmick, with critics rounding on home secretary Jacqui Smith's tough stand as just riding on the back of the popularity stakes.

Proposals from the home secretary left the Orange Party feeling distinctly uncomfortable. 

Here was a raft of tough-talking proposals coming out of the blue and receiving widespread publicity. That begged the questions - why now and why those measures in particular? 

Cracking-down on customers who pay for pimp-controlled or illegally trafficked prostitutes smacked of the warped inverted sexism and party politics so beloved of the government. 

A voice of reason and common sense was needed. Preferably female, liberal minded and preferably with a religious tone which could speak from a respected moral high ground.

Those voices have now been heard. But surprisingly they are voices from the political right which have rounded on the home secretary. Voices which one would expect would take a firm hand on prostitution. 

At issue here is yet more laws and control. No government can outlaw prostitutes, never could, never would, but it can try its damnest to outlaw prostitution. 

In a well argued article in the Sunday Times, Minnette Marrin, is clear: 'Slithery Jacqui Smith wants a backdoor ban on prostitution'.

"Anyone with a tittle of sense would see that this is unworkable and unfair ... Once again this government is trying to override common sense, human nature and personal freedom in the interests of a policy not fit for purpose." 

The Adam Smith Institute (ASI), named after Thatcher's favourite economist, takes an equally bold stand and cites Roman catholic priest, George Pitcher, from the Daily Telegraph: 

“Laws made by legislators with an eye to the electorate, rather than care for the oppressed and vulnerable, can make lives considerably worse for those who most need our protection ...  Cosy, self-satisfied, middle-class observers may claim that there is no such beast as a good user of prostitutes. The prostitutes themselves would disagree.” 

As the ASI points out: "When an ordained priest of the Church of England writes that the government’s policy of criminalising paying for sex then it is quite likely that those in power might be making a mistake.'"

Crucially ASI states: "The motivations behind this government’s approach are clearly the perceived popularity of the tough stance."

The ASI also harnesses Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, writing in the Telegraph on the home secretary and government thinking which “include the radical feminist thesis that all heterosexual sex is exploitation, a Marxist view that all work is exploitation, and a religious evangelism which argues that all non-procreational sex is wrong.”

The Orange Party believes there's a simply effective solution in licensing but that's not one which would find favour with the warped views of government. 

All prostitutes would have to be licensed. In happens already many parts of the US and elsewhere. That licence crucially controls age and is often only given after medical and drugs checks show the all clear. 

As Marrin points out: "If every prostitute had to get an up-to-date licence showing her photograph, birth certificate, nationality, licensed place of work and registration with the police and show it to every punter to prove she was not under duress, many of the worst traffickers and pimps would be forced out of business."

Decriminalisation is shared by Dr Brooks-Gordon: “Ministers should scrap the prostitution laws and start again by following New Zealand's lead in decriminalising the industry, which empowered workers and reduced violence."

Those sensible measures would require a politician to be honest with voters. Honest about wanting to protect the most vulnerable prostitutes and honest about motives. 

At a stroke though those measures legalise prostitution and that's a difficult political pill to swallow. 

However the public would prefer this honest approach to tackle a social issue and an honest debate, rather than the current half-cocked measures pushed out for pure political advantage. 


Anonymous said...

I am almost completely lost for words. This blog is honest, reasonable AND socialist (with a small s).

It'd got to the point where I automatically assumed that the last characteristic would immediately preclude the first two. I stand corrected!

Out of interest, where do you stand on the "moral hazard" (a slightly naff term which is probably destined to become the "not fit for purpose" of tomorrow, but you know what I mean) of welfare being an incentive for the poor to become dependent on the state, and all that is thus implied?

the orange party said...

Thanks for the comments. As you say socialist - with that small 's'.

As for that 'moral hazard' - that's a difficult call.

There's too much dependency on state benefit and welfare reforms are much needed.

But such reforms need to be brought in with a caring heart and compassion.

Just forcing the weak and vulnerable into work rips the heart out of the welfare state, as suggested here.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. We've got the worst of both worlds right now. A decade (give or take) of actively encouraging excessive welfare dependence at the expense of skills development and productive employment (which *everyone* could have benefited from) for no better reason than flawed doctrine, vote chasing and cowardice - followed by a very nasty (perhaps evil) Blairite bi-polar swing to the right at a time when the employment market is in the worst shape in living memory. On top of this, an education system that comprehensively fails (a slightly ironic play on words) to impart the skills that would give the most vulnerable a chance of bettering themselves through well paid work.

My problem with Socialism, as practiced by the Socialist "movement" (which I despise, present company excepted), is that, like all political parties, it seeks to expand it's "base" of core voters. In practice, this has lead to Labour as some kind of metaphorical pimp/dealer who gets his charges hooked on a quick fix just to have them under his spell. Totally and utterly sickening.

Compasion can only be measured by outcome, not by the scale of air-headed proselytising by people without the political or administrative skills to achieve their stated goals. I am very troubled by Gordon Brown's growing madness (and it is madness, in the very real sense of a pathologically disfunctional personality), in the face of his abject failures. Meeting setback and failure with ever more potent forms of delusion and deceit is a runaway positive feedback loop of extremism. It's always "someone elses" fault for not playing along or for spoiling the party. Success could have been assured, if only they had been *more* radical from the start - it's proto-fascism is what it is, pure and simple. It makes not a jot of difference that they themselves do not see the truth of their situation. I look at Gordo, as I did with Blair, and all I can see is a creapy autocratic liar suffering from increasingly serious mental illness.

I agree wholeheartedly with the ideal of a compassionate state, with the idea that the weak should not be exploited by the strong and even with the idea that the poor should most definitely pay less tax than the better off - to the point of paying no tax at all if that's what it takes. The current tax regime is designed to keep the poor exactly where they are. VAT on everything, a TV license that isn't even worth the cost of collection because it's just a coercive tax and should be funded out of the other tax receipts. The poor pay an appalling percentage of their income right back to the state simply by spending enough to stay alive.

I consider myself to be right wing (in the sense of putting a much higher emphasis on self reliance then most) and even I find the whole dishonest sham too much to stomach. This Labour government are not what they claim to be. Not by a long shot. They are either stupid (that's certainly true in some cases) or just cynical (also true in some cases). The decent eggs are too few to require more than five fingers to count (Bob Marshall Andrews and Frank Field come to mind. Tony Ben only woke up in time to retire - and don't even get me started on his son) - not much of a recommendation.

I could never vote Labour as things stand, but, likewise, I would only vote Conservative with reservations. Previously, for all it's flaws, Labour served as some kind of balance to Tory excesses but that balance is now a distant memory. Labour have tried to play the business friendly game and been shown up as nothing but cheap, inexperienced whores.

I'm going to stop now because I'm getting angry.