Saturday, May 28, 2011

Poor, honest, Ken

At no point has Ken Clarke suggested, implied or hinted that any category of rape is acceptable or to be regarded as nothing more than a minor hiccup on life’s journey.
He did have the honesty to suggest that some rapes are worse than others. Anyone who doesn't agree with that is a moron.
Ken's political enemies, and rape campaigners, instantly fell upon him and claimed that this statement that rape comprises a spectrum of harm or seriousness is an assertion that some rapes are insignificant.
Led by an unholy alliance of the Daily Mail, Labours front-bench and rape campaigners, the hounds are loose on Ken's tail. The question is, does Cameron have the stones to stick with an honest politician? Or does the petty, pathetic mob win again?


  1. In Sweden, rape is a split condom. And a Viking longboat has become a joyride for executives out on a management bonding course.

  2. 'Honest politician'!!! That is an oxymoron.

    I watched the debate from the prison on question time and noticed how some women in the audience were glad that there might be some openess in debating rape whereas it is traditionaly a 'taboo' subject.

    But Ken Clarke was not saying anything new, he was sticking by a rule book from the previous Labour government that he would not be challenging or changing. What got him into trouble was when some quoted statistics confused the debate on rape.

    It is a highly emmotive subject and what some campaigners jumped on is not to dispute that some rapes are more serious than others, but an implication that the law can make (by his refering to date rape for example) that women are somehow to blame for rape by what they wear and so on.

    As there is quite rightly much venom for the previous government under new or as JG likes to say zanu Labour, and Ken Clarke offers no re-hash of Jack Straw's policies, only an extension of the early guilt plea deduction on sentencing, how come Ken gets to be one of the good guys? Its rubbish, they are pretty much the same, arrogant, judgmental and full of propaganda.

    Ken Clarke might seem reasonable, even if he does not say much of any consequence, but its not about your demeanor, its about what you do, and he does little in fact nothing at all to change anything for the better for prisoners.

  3. I can't help having a sneaking regard for Ken clarke. All these right wing journos baying for his blood - As if they've ever given a toss about rape victims, they just want Clarke out coz he's got some integrity.

    And Jimmy, what ARE you slavering about now, sugar-plum?

  4. I understand your gut reaction to all politicians as being essentially dishonest Infamous, but it is true that Ken Clarke is more liberal in his outlook than Jack Straw was. It is a bit of a head twist that one I know.

  5. I do wonder about the attitude to sentencing in this country. Most criminal cases are heard before a circuit judge. As a general rule (although appoints have diversified) they will have gone through law school, bar school (so 4 years at least of university training), then a years pupillage, then worked in the field for 7 years. So 11 years total training before they are even considered for appointment. If it is a more serious offence such as murder or manslaughter, then they will be heard before a High Court Judge, which requires at least another 5 years on the bench, and probably recognition with the title of Queens Counsel.

    Then politicians come in having just spent half an hour reading the newspaper and tell them what sentences they should be setting, rather than letting the judges use their experience and actually do what we pay them large amounts of money to do.

  6. @ Tallguy: "Most criminal cases are heard before a circuit judge." 'Circus' Judge would probably be a more fitting way to describe them methinks.

    All of that privileged schooling, you'd think they might be more learned than they are.

    There again all that schooling and privilege makes them a world away from the majority of people whose crimes they are judging and passing sentence over in the first place.

    Such privileges, and they don't stand for election of any sort, and as you say are paid very very high amounts of dosh too.

    A Circus seems a right way to describe it on the one hand, a 'rat race' on the other.

  7. I think he really fell foul of the right wing press when he tried to make a valid point on the unfortunate positions some young people find themselves in. A 16 year old having consensual sexual relations with a 15 year old is "rape" because the 15 year old has not reached the age of consent. This is completely ridiculous and clearly not a case of "rape." Therefore the argument, "rape is rape" is rendered nonsensical. The solution is simple, rape is forcing oneself upon another person without the WILLING of the other party, regardless of age. The age of consent rule should be applied with some intelligence on the part of the judiciary. One could argue, "murder is murder." But we know and accept that is not the case, there are DEGREES of murder. Arguably murder is the most horrid of all crimes, even burglary has degrees but not rape, why? Because of the right wing feminist movement (I have no malice towards them, but come on, think FREE). Rape is not rape, there are degrees and they should be reflected in sentencing.

    I would like to add, I find rape to be an abhorrent crime, worthy of almost Draconian sentences but there needs to be some sensibility in the argument.

  8. @Tallguy how many times have you seen the press trot out a quote from a judge that goes along the lines of "Judge sends out a message to the public when sentencing XYZ for the crime of XYZ".

    This is a clear example of a judge going over and above their role and often comes when the media have highlighted a particular crime.

    Seems to me judges need to stop reading the papers and stopped being influenced by what can only be descibed as pressure groups such as feminists for example.

  9. Just in case you didn't know Tallguy, Clarke was called to the Bar in 1963 by Gray's Inn and was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1980.

    so he has the experience to comment wouldn't you say?

  10. I don't think I understood you very well here,so I had to read several times and yes, calm down before I responded.

    If taking the view that forcing a sexual act on another non-consenting person is not always of the utmost severity makes me a moron, then yes I'm a moron.

    If, however are you saying that consensual sex between say, a 16 year-old boy and a 15 year old girl is not to be considered rape, or that just because consenting adults occasionally indulge in practices that can seem abusive to outsiders, it doesn't mean they are committing a sexual offence, then yes I can go with that.

  11. @anon 1.09
    Anything to back up what you are saying beyond a vague "oh they have an upper class background and therefore don't know anything?"

    @Anon 7:57 Judges generally take more than one line to hand down a sentence. They always have to justify what they are doing (required by Human Rights legislation in order to make appeals possible), so if they believe there is need for deterrence then they have to say so.

    @Anon 8:01 Yes he probably does, my comment was mostly aimed at the outrage that came in response to his comment. Although one could wonder what Clarke is doing starting a "national debate" which will inevitably lead to right wing views highjacking the work of the sentencing council.

    Whilst I don't think that prisons should be beyond the realm of political debate (like all government functions) I do feel that the politicians constant attacks on the judiciary and the knee jerk right wing press is massively undermining the work done by those who actually know the field.

    I mean, see how people react to Doctors being told how to do their job. Why do we accept the same treatment being given to judges?

  12. Judges are so removed from the realms and ways of ordinary people tall guy, I don't know any personaly to give any examples. It is true that they are unelected though, are paid huge amounts of money and in the vast majority of cases have absolutely no experience or knowledge of what life is like for poor or even average wage earners.

  13. If you don't have any actual experience then what are you basing the ascertain on?

    As for removed from the realms of reality, I'm not sure thats true. Even though the majority come from privileged backgrounds, that does not mean that they have no knowledge of life. These people have been practicing barristers, many of them at the criminal bar. I actually cannot think of any profession other than social/benefit workers which has to deal more with people at the bottom end of society than a legal aid lawyer. If after ten years of working in that field you do not have some idea about daily struggles, then you are not human.

    And elected judges are bad. We can have an independent judiciary, or a political one. I know which I would rather have for ensuring that people follow the law.

  14. @tallguy so you seem to have no problem with judges shaping society but a problem with politicians shaping the law. unfortunately for you I was on the recieving end of an appeal that had nothing to do with HRA and more to do with which side the judge got out of bed that morning and there is now way they should be allowed to consider their believes when it comes to sentencing.

    Secondly I take it you don't like the idea of a "national debate" because being left wing that is the last thing you want. Seems to me you have already decided what is good for society and no one else is worth listening to hence the outrage..

  15. In 2009 the Coroners and Justice Act was passed. Amongst its many provisions was something the Law Commission, a body of experts charged with considering legal reform, had long called for. Reforms to the laws regarding the defenses to murder under the Homicide Act 1957; Provocation and Diminished Responsibility. This was regarded as important as the wording of the Diminished Responsibility defense under s.2 of the old act was somewhat outdated given advances in medical knowledge. S.3,the provocation defense, was also considered in dire need of reform as it had failed those who were victims of domestic abuse.

    Now this was all well and good, but the government decided to ignore one bit of advice, and as such screwed up the law. The advice was to drop the mandatory life sentence for murder. Prior to the Coroners and Justice Act, the s.2 defense had rather lose wording, which meant that certain "killers" could escape a murder conviction and be convicted of manslaughter, giving the Judiciary discretion over their sentence. The new wording, under s.52 of the new act, will make this sadly impossible.

    Why did this happen? Because sadly the level of debate in this country regarding sentencing is always focused on "sentences are too short" a statement that does not match reality given the increase in average sentence length over the last ten years. And this is often at the expense of listening to the advice of people who are experts in the field, so is somewhat like ignoring a doctor suggesting a certain medical treatment.

    Why was this a problem? Well, murderer is a somewhat wide crime. It stretches all the way from the Yorkshire Ripper to the parent whose child is in its last hours of life and decides to end it now rather than watch him/her suffer in agony. Fortunately, the lose wording of the 1957 act allowed the latter to receive almost no prison sentence as their responsibility was Diminished. Now, as they need an "abnormality of mental function" that won't happen, so they will get 14 years starting, mitigated down to 12, 9 at most.

    I hope this demonstrates why I am somewhat depressed at the level of debate on sentencing in this country, as this is the result.

  16. @tallguy Interesting, yet you're the guy who argues that rape is rape.

  17. Just as GBH is GBH, Assault is assault, and breaking the speed limit is breaking the speed limit.

    Of course there is a difference between fractured leg and a blow inflicting brain damage (both GB). There is a difference between shouting "F**** off or I will throw this bottle at you" and punching someone in the stomach (both common assault). There is a difference between doing 78mph on the M3 and doing 50mph past a school in a 30mph zone. Does this mean the offences deserve different labels? No, GBH is serious harm, both the harms listed are serious.

    However, it would be ridiculous to suggest that such crimes deserve the same sentence, which is essentially the whole point of what Ken Clarke was saying.

    As for the Rape argument, I never said "Rape is Rape," or that all rapes should receive the same punishment. I merely pointed out (as Ken Clarke QC did) that any sexual intercourse without consent is rape under English law and has been for a very long time. How that has any impact on the sentencing of the crime I am at a loss to understand.

  18. It's so simple, you change the definitions that are used, unfortunately certain organisations want certain crimes to be defined under law to appear a lot more serious than they really are..

  19. So sexual intercourse without consent isn't serious? Sorry, far too many people believe that, and its not true.