Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Prostitution - Let's have a heated debate

Iain Dale recently posted that he was "Astonished" to see in a poll he did that 88% of his readers who responded (270) were in favour of legalising prostitution.

I got a bit annoyed by this as it seemed to be saying that right thinking people should not think this way. I was away abroad at the time and had not been keeping up generally with the blogs I usually read so I posted this message on the thread:

I am baffled as to why you express such surprise. I have been away and did not vote on this but would have voted to legalise (as I would with drugs).

It seems to me yet again that the political class (in which I am including you) are out of kilter with the views of activists and the public in general.

You lot have a habit of characterising any view that does not chime with the cosy political consensus as dangerous or maverick and thus easily dismissed. This is of course until it becomes clear that you are too out of touch and then the view is adopted by all of you and another consensus begins.

I am certain that in 30 years time all currently illegal drugs will be legal and this current period of prohibition will be looked back at with puzzlement and some shame by historians. The problem is that most of you in the PC do not currently agree with this view and if/when any of you put your head(s) above the parapet you are instantly condemned (by the tabloid press and also by other opportunist politicians) as SOFT ON EVIL DRUGS WONT SOMEBODY THINK OF TEH CHILDREN (etc.) without ever seriously engaging with the subject.

Just to briefly engage with the subject matter the poll was addressing:

1) People (men) have always done and will always use prostitutes.

2) If you inisist on making/keeping prostitution illegal then this will invariably keep it underground, unregulated and put the women involved in more danger than they need to be.

I don't really need to go any further than this. Political pragmatism and evidence based policy (anchored in the real world, not that of scaremongering tabloid headlines) would have caused a change in this area many years ago and shame on you for attempting to perpetuate the nonsense of the current position by trying to dismiss the considered views of a well educated and properly engaged audience (your own readership) as "astonishing".

Find some balls and start addressing these issues on the basis of the real world.

Iain then posted this:

Mark, When you scroll down the page you will go red with embarrassment and what you just wrote.

Which makes clear that he now thinks the time is right to legalise prostitution. I did respond further to this by explaining how I missed this, apologising for some of the views I ascribed to him that clearly don't apply etc. I also praised his courage as I know that publishing this will make his chances of being selected for a seat by the Tories that little bit harder. However for some reason he has not posted the second post so I was unable to set the record straight directly on his blog. Hopefully this post here will have done so.

I still feel however that using the word "astonishing" to describe the fact that most people are pragmatic on this issue and understand that making it illegal will just drive it underground is unhelpful and does attempt to paint the viewpoint (including his own) as a little extreme.

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