Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Strictly politics

Today... Started off with a couple of hours in the office, including some interviews re the Home Secretary's announcement today about new laws on prostitution. The BEP has already run a couple of good stories on it, on the new laws and on the impact of prostitution on one street in east Bristol.

Then lunch with, and chairing a session with, 'Bobby' Shapiro, which was really interesting. My favourite quote from him was when, asked if greed was to blame for the current financial crisis, he said "No. Greed is a constant". So it can't be blamed for extraordinary events.

Then met up with a constituent on a lobby of Parliament re Palestine. Good news about David Miliband taking a stance re goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements.

Then some votes on the Counter-Terrorism Bill interspersed with some time in the library checking emails, picking up my website award, chairing a meeting between South West MPs and the regional TUC, finding some MPs to sponsor my Ten Minute Rule Bill, and a quick chat in the tearoom with Tom Harris, whose very funny memo to staff will be featured in tomorrow's Independent, (so I'm told). Apparently journos are trying to smoke out other memos by using the FOI. Only applies to Ministers/ civil servants though, so no danger of my occasional memos to staff re not ending sentences with prepositions and other such crucial matters ending up in the tabloids. I hope.

Watching Newsnight now, making rather a mountain out of a John Sargeant shaped molehill. There will be questions in Parliament next, mark my words. Hazel Blears isn't quite saying she wouldn't go on the programme... and of course Peter Mandelson and Vince Cable have already expressed an interest. I'm still holding out for Loose Women.


pagar said...


When you received your copy of 1984, you were asked not to support illiberal legislation and were specifically advised that this included that related to further criminalisation of prostitution. Sadly, the legislation you refer to in your blog is deeply flawed.

1) You have a new law that says that anyone paying for sex with a woman knowing that she had been trafficked is guilty of rape. I agree entirely with the spirit of this but it is bad law. How is the court supposed to determine what the customer 'knew' at the time? Even if he did know, he's hardly going to say so.

The solution to trafficking is to stop it by enforcing the existing law. If the Government were serious about this it would not be pulling funding from the only central investigating police unit. Do you support that incidentally?

2)You have a second new law that criminalises those paying for sex where someone not involved in the transaction gains financially. I surely don't need to tell you what a shockingly woolly proposal that is. I know, Kerry, you would have much preferred a total ban on the activity and at least that would have had the merit of clarity.

Street walkers and kerb crawlers are clearly a major nuisance to the residents of the areas they use. But the reason they exist is because you have attempted to criminalise those that try to work from off-street premises, to advertise etc.

The new laws will, yet again, not be enforced because they are clearly unenforceable.

Kerry said...

1) In the same way that other laws based on a similar premise work, e.g. rape - would a reasonable man know a woman was not consenting?

2) This actually in some ways defends a woman's right to do what she wants with her body; but it protects her from being exploited, or coerced into prostitution by a third party. That is a very common scenario, and men who pay for sex in such circumstances are colluding in such abuse.

DaveA said...

Kerry, I trust you are well. Here is a conversation between punter and sex worker:

Punter: £20 then and btw can I see your passsport or work permit.

Sex worker: I don't have it on me.

P: Have you been trafficed here? Her nose grows.

SW: No.

P: So you have a pimp?

SW: No, I am freelance, all profits go to me. Nose grows longer.

Inspector Jack Regan: Right son get your trousers on, your knicked.

How are you going to make the law stick? P has taken all reasonable steps to establish that he has not broken the law. Sounds dead in the water before the committee stage.

Kerry said...

How do you know it's £20?

pagar said...

I believe £20 was the sum you mentioned on your original blog on this.

In the same way that other laws based on a similar premise work, e.g. rape - would a reasonable man know a woman was not consenting?

But it's not the same at all. If a woman tells you 'no' and you force her to have sex you would know you are breaking the law. If you contract with an Eastern European prostitute she would appear to be consenting so, unless you were involved with the gang, you would have no real idea whether she had been trafficked or not. That is why it is bad law.

As a libertarian, the thought of girls being coerced into the sex industry is absolutely repugnant and I don't believe the recent sentences on the Turkish gang were nearly severe enough. Equally, to have the government dictating to women what they can or cannot do with their own bodies is almost as bad.

By the way, you did not say whether or not you supported the closure of the anti-trafficking unit.

Anonymous said...

Kerry, as ever the government attack the problem from the wrong end. Yesterday the BBC reported that a man in Belfast involved in trafficking women for the puposes of prostitution was given a three month prison sentence suspended for 2 years.

Hardly a deterrent is it?

DaveA said...

Kerry your remark lacked a smiley, so I will construe it was a, pun intended cheap comment. I have never availed myself of any young lady's services and was taking a guess.

On a lighter note a local massage parlour in Leytonstone, advertising in the local paper, did advertise that you could arrive via the "discrete rear entrance."

Kerry said...

I don't use smileys. I rely on people's intelligence to deduce whether I'm joking or not.

Good guess though - £20 is indeed the going rate on the street in east Bristol. So I'm told.

DaveA said...

Kerry, sorry for the sense of humour failure, I initially thought it was a snide remark.

Elby the Beserk said...

Devil's Kitchen said...


Be honest: do you really think that this is going to help at all?

There is this constant barrage of legislation from your government when, in the vast majority of cases, all that needs to be done is to enforce the laws that we already have.

Slavery is already illegal; so is false imprisonment. Why not actually enforce these, rather than criminalising yet more sections of society?