Tag Archives: Ken clarke

Clegg is on message but is anyone listening?

Earlier today, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was read, by a former member of his party, what is written on the back of every Lib Dem membership card.

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”

Specifically he was asked, live on LBC radio, how he can reconcile this government’s attacks on the poorest within society with these stated aims of the Lib Dems.

Clegg responded that he was ‘immensely proud’ and drew listeners’ attention to the changes in income tax. A policy which the party claims will cut “£600 from your income tax bill”.

Clegg’s claim misses the wider picture and flies in face of the TUC’s suggestion that the UK’s poorest families are facing a 30% reduction in income by 2017. It ignores evidence put forward recently by the Charted Institute of Housing that says 400,000 of the poorest families are losing out because of the government’s new benefits system.

Indeed, I am sure that these facts and figures go some way to explain why ‘John’ – the former Lib Dem County Councillor who rang LBC this morning – said he was ‘ashamed’ of the party.

Clearly on this answer, John and I disagreed with Clegg. Did we expect anything else though? Did we expect Clegg to suddenly condemn the coalition? Of course not. Clegg is in this coalition for the long haul.

Was there anything in the Q & A that I agreed with? Well, there was one answer.

Q: If you had to take one [Tory] for a drink?

A: Ken Clarke

Nick and Ken could talk about what it feels like to be ignored at Cabinet meetings…

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Chris “there is no room in the inn for gays” Grayling becomes Justice Secretary

Remember these comments:

if you look at the case of ‘Should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from their hotel?’ I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home”. The words of Chris Grayling MP.

In other words he suggested that a gay couple should allowed to be turned away if the B&B owner’s didn’t want these ‘gays’ in their house. Hmm…

Douglas Murray writing in the Telegraph highlights one problem with this assertion:

“A man owns a B&B. He is also a Christian. In common with many Christians he believes that the Bible is the inspiration for living, but not a textbook….He also recognises that an obsession with gays is something which a particularly intolerant, unchristian and backward sub-set of Christianity, largely comprising black Africans, holds dear. Therefore he decides it is against his religious beliefs to entertain black African Christians at his guesthouse because he does not like their beliefs, attitudes or practices. There is no reason, in Grayling’s analysis, why this should not happen”

Discrimination, as Murray goes to length to point out, can apply to sexuality, ethnicity, class or any other form of prejudice. If we let the standards slip on one there is little theoretical reason to protect the others.

Equally, Grayling’s comments also puts him on the wrong side of the law. Under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 no-one should be refused goods or services on the grounds of their sexuality. Grayling’s comments stand in stark contrast to this regulation.

It with just a little alarm then that Grayling has been appointed as the new Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice replacing Ken Clarke. Not only does he hold these discriminatory views but as Michael Crick points out:

A non-lawyer with a healthy dose of prejudice…was there really no one better? Apparently there was:

So, is there any good news in this reshuffle? Well, perhaps it is best summed up by the following tweet:

The full cabinet is:

Prime Minister: David Cameron

Deputy Prime Minister: Nick Clegg

Chancellor of the Exchequer: George Osborne

Foreign Secretary: William Hague

Home Secretary: Theresa May

Justice Secretary: Chris Grayling

Work and Pensions Secretary: Iain Duncan Smith

Education Secretary: Michael Gove

Health Secretary: Jeremy Hunt

Transport Secretary: Patrick McLoughlin

Environment Secretary: Owen Paterson

Northern Ireland Secretary: Theresa Villiers

Minister without Portfolio: Ken Clarke

Leader of the House: Andrew Lansley

Chief Whip: Andrew Mitchell

Only two and half years until the general election…


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Roger Helmer describes a hypothetical rape as such: “the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind”

Roger “I think a girl can be responsible for being raped” Helmer

Tories are on the back foot on this subject. I wrote a blog yesterday essentially defending what Ken Clarke said (although highlighting its lack of clarity). Then, out of no-where (well Brussels) Roger Helmer wades in with some comments that reinforce every negative idea about rape!

While I think it is right and proper that Ken Clarke still has a job, I honestly cannot see how this man who denies the existence of homophobia, climate change and child poverty within traveller communities still has a job. This latest round of comments highlight that his views are not only out-dated but also worryingly out of touch with reality.  To suggest that a girl is in part responsible for being raped is totally and utterly unacceptable.  On this one I stand side by side with Caroline Flint who described his comments as “outrageous”.

It is equally worrying that one MEP within the ECR group can be thrown out for so little, and yet another stay in the group after making such consistently disgusting comments.

The sad truth of the matter is that Mr Cameron knows he cannot stand up and be counted on this issue because Roger Helmer remains a favourite of his far right backbenchers. If the PM is going to launch an attack, he feels as though it has to be on something more serious than this. Thus, in a nutshell this is what’s wrong with the modern Conservative Party. Mr Cameron is still pandering to the far right extremists’ and so will tolerate what you and I find intolerable.

I suggest the Prime Minister goes away and read Mr Helmer’s comments and sets an example to show that he too finds Roger Helmer’s views deplorable.


Filed under Climate Change, EU politics, Far-right politics, Politics

Ken Clarke might have been clumsy with his words but Labour’s top guns are being malicious with theirs

Ken Clarke

When Ken Clarke started talking about rape on radio 5 live last week there was quite rightly uproar. Ken Clarke failed to effectively get across what he wanted to say. I think (assume) what he was trying to saying was that when someone has sex with an under 13 year old (not 15 like Ken said) it is legally deemed rape although it might well have been consenting. The legal logic goes that it has to be rape because she/he could not have given their consent because of their age.

It was telling that on BBC Question Time last Thursday after the whole debacle took place, Ken was greeted (by panelists and audience) with a general level of support.  Even Jack Straw stopped short of really attacking him (a Labour politician with principles…or just on that understands the debate?)  This is because, at the crux of what Ken was saying, that some legal definitions of rape hold more severe penalties than others, he was right.  Not all legal definitions of rape are violent, indeed as pointed out above; some rape can hold both partners consent.  The varying length and severity of punishment reflecting this is right.

Labour has a record of action on this issue, which if they were campaigning positively, they would be working to highlight. They introduced the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which broadened the definition of consent to protect those unable to consent (such someone unconscious or drunk).  However, this latest round of fire in the war of words has come with Harriet Harman writing a patronising gender centric letter to Mr Clarke in the Guardian, Ed Miliband calling for his dismissal at Prime Ministers Questions and the Labour media machine going into overdrive.  Let’s be very clear, Labour are not doing this because they think what Ken Clarke was saying was wrong, but because it is politically useful. They have gone on a crass public relations spree (missing the key point about reduced sentences to save money).

As Sunny Hundal pointed out, the Tories have two big problems facing them. One is a law and order image problem, and the second is that women disproportionately do not vote Tory. Labour can see that by attacking Ken they are winning on both fronts.

For as long as Ken is in his job, the Tories cannot appear “tough on crime”. They are facing police protests over salary freezes whilst talking more about “helping those in prisons” (quite rightly). If Labour keeps attacking, Cameron cannot fire Clarke because that would be an obvious win for Labour. It does however keep the law and order problem on the front pages and makes the Tories look divided and weakened.  Cameron is in a no win situation – keep Ken and look weak or sack Ken and look weak.

At the same time, it also means that Labour can play on crass gender stereotypes related to rape and clean up the female vote! Labour can look compassionate whilst attacking a Justice secretary which is doing and saying roughly the right things.

Labour knows, I know and most importantly Ken Clarke knows he did not mean to say that some rape was more or less “serious”.  When Ken Clarke (the former lawyer) talks of rape, he is using legal definitions, not publically understood definitions of the term.


Filed under Health, Politics