THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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March 2010

The rape of justice

Sex with drunken women could be rape, review to signal - Telegraph.

Harriet Harman is an enormous threat to liberty and justice. She has commissioned a study into how to "improve" the conviction rate for rape. Rape is by its nature a difficult crime to prosecute. It is often not witnessed. I am sure many rapists go unpunished, either because women do not report the offence or because there is insufficient corroboration. That's sad, but the cries to lower the standard of proof for rape are no solution. A conviction rate is not "improved" by convicting the innocent. Just as dangerous is the wheeze thrown up by the report Harman commissioned.

I agree completely with the report's author, Baroness Stern, when she said (of men who commit rape when drunk):
"...Being drunk is voluntary and people who become drunk are responsible for their actions. It is not the alcohol that commits the rape... It is not an excuse. It used to be regarded as such, but it is not..."

Exactly. The only way to handle the dis-inhibiting effects of alcohol is to hold drinkers accountable for what they do when drunk. In some ways, this may seem a bit unfair. Most of us have made choices we regretted under the influence of alcohol. But the alternative is to provide people with too easy an excuse for their unwise actions. But how can someone capable of articulating that thought go on to argue that a drunken woman's consent to sex is invalid? How quaint to argue that men are accountable not only for their own actions when drunk, but for those of women too.

This will make bad law. Very bad law. At the very least, men will be blackmailed by women who will falsely claim, after the event, that their consent was invalid. How can it ever be disproved? Even a woman who was stone cold sober could lie. Innocent men will be wrongly convicted because it is impossible to assess (the effects of alcohol varying as they do by individual and by occasion) whether a woman consented or not. This proposal is vile, unjust and typically puritanical. On Labour's past record that's good reason to expect it soon to be law; further de-normalising relations between the sexes in the UK.

On the run from Canada?

We punish those we should protect | editorial | Comment is free | The Observer.

Dreamstime_5639284 Three deranged people committed suicide and now the hand-wringing left are plucking at our consciences over our Sunday breakfasts. Well, I am sorry comrades. I have no conscience about the dead Russians in Glasgow. And here's why. They were seeking political asylum from Canada. CANADA, for Pete's sake! The fluffiest, cosiest, least dangerous body politic on Earth. Canadians could only pose a threat to a healthy Russian by boring him to death with their North American version of gemütlichkeit.

True to their gentle image, the Canadians had given the late and little lamented Mr Serykh political asylum, believing his tale that he was an ex-KGB man on the run. Given that he also believed Canada's prime minister was plotting to assassinate the Queen of England, one has to wonder how wise that was. He and his family had been granted permanent residency. They were entitled to return at any time and - no doubt - to live parasitically on kindly, rosy-cheeked Canadian taxpayers. So how did we ever wind up housing and supporting them? Why did we not laugh right in their faces when they applied for asylum and bundle them onto the next transatlantic flight?

To this extent, the Observer's editorial is right. These deaths are shameful. They shame Britons because they reveal our nation was dumb enough to countenance, even for a second, such a ludicrous claim.


Your blogger can't retire from work just yet. He has a new version of an old, unrealised ambition. Always believing that, at 2 metres tall, he could not drive a modern Ferrari, he was resigned. Today, on the company's stand at the Geneva Motor Show, he discovered he need not be. One day, perhaps, he can hope to drive something that might even be more exciting than Vittoria.

To his even greater surprise, he also found himself admiring an eco-drive car at the show. However, in the prototype Ferrari version of a hybrid, you have the choice either to save fuel by recycling power stored from your braking, or (temptingly) to unleash it to boost your acceleration! That's your blogger's kind of green.

The last two pictures are not of his new inamorata, however. They are close ups of an even more expensive rival (in which, emphatically, he could not fit his generous frame). In fact, he gave onlookers a few amusing moments with his attempts to do so. Still, it was a beautiful sight. Any guesses as to what it is?

Geneva101  Geneva103Geneva102  Geneva11  Geneva104

And finally, a little extra treat for admirers of the automotive art. En route to our present resting place in Crans Montana, my friend who organised access to all this magic today took us to see his own magnificent car. Just listen to that beautiful noise...

A pleasant afternoon

Bar It was great to meet James Higham today, whose blog I have read for so long. His writing style is so intensely personal that I had the strange feeling of renewing auld acquaintance. James is in life as he seems from his blog; affable, erudite and articulate. It was good to exchange recollections of our very different lives in Russia, hear his theories as to what is going on in British politics and exchange opinions on the current output of our fellow-bloggers.

It was also a delight to  renew the acquaintance of Bag, my old mucker from Second Life and proprietor of the sadly-strewn-with-tumbleweed Bag's Rants blog.

We motored out into the Cheshire countryside, to the intense Italian music of Vittoria's V8, and spent pleasant hours together at the Cock o' Barton gastro pub. Thank you gentlemen, for the pleasure of your company.

What rights are conferred by your son being murdered?

Jon Venables could be killed if his identity is revealed, key judge warns | UK news | The Guardian.

Any parent feels for Denise Fergus. We can sympathise with her unabated anger against the two young children (now adults) who killed her son. But her insistence that as James Bulger's mother she has a "right" to know what his killers are doing now is quite wrong. They are so loathed for what they did as children that, without new identities, they would have no chance of a law-abiding life. If charged with another crime, they would have certainly have no chance - under their real names - of a fair trial.

Their sentences are served. Perhaps some may feel they were not long enough. Others may feel they should have been executed. But they are entitled to the same chance to sin no more any of us would expect when we had paid the price of a crime. Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss's original order protecting their identity was therefore both wise and fair. We can forgive Denise Fergus for her anger and hatred. We can perhaps even understand why she wants her son's killers at the mercy of the mob. But it would be very far from justice.

Politicians have repeatedly exploited this tragic case. Tony Blair used it as his "broken society" moment; in effect blaming the Conservatives, not two profoundly disturbed children (and the parents who raised them), for Jamie Bulger's death. Michael Howard was no better. As Home Secretary, he gave in to a Sun campaign for their minimum sentence to be extended.  Lord Donaldson gave the civilised view of that incident when he described it as "institutionalised vengeance" by a "politician playing to the gallery."

Someone close to Jack Straw recently decided to announce that Jon Venables was back in custody. Why? There was no need disturb Ms Fergus's sleep or arouse the vengeful mob. Presumably it was an attempt to make political capital by associating the government with tough action against a hated individual. New Labour's political instincts have failed it again however and the gambit has gone badly wrong. I am sad that some usually-sensible voices in the British blogosphere are, in effect, siding with a lynch mob. They have been duped by cynical politicians and are playing right into their hands.

Violence, lies and manipulation

True scale of violent crime rise revealed - Telegraph.

No-one of sound mind believed Labour's story that violent crime was falling. I don't believe they expected us to believe it, when it contradicted everyday experience. Like the tractor statistics of Soviet times, we were only required to pretend to believe, in token of our submission to the more important "truths" of Party doctrine.

For once HM Opposition has done its job. The Conservatives backed their judgement enough to take a risk. Had the independent statisticians they asked to recalculate the numbers confirmed the Government's story, the wind would have been taken out of their already slack sails.

Of course, the truth is as we felt it to be. Hardly surprising given that - as the Director of Civitas observed - this government has a reputation for "scheming and manipulation." How long can a government with such a reputation; a government prepared to lie about how many of us are casualties of violent crime, continue to command the loyalty of a quarter of the population?

From the Despatch Box

Parliament1 Miss Paine the Younger gave us a tour of Parliament this morning. Your blogger stood at the government despatch box and did his best to dispel the aura of statist evil it emits. This is posted from the other despatch box though; the cafeteria in the atrium of Portcullis House, the modern annex where she works.

One law for them, another for us.

Labour politician resigned after admitting taking cocaine - Telegraph.

If a dealer told the drugs squad that you were a user, how would you expect them to react? It seems that the answer is "it depends." Most of us could expect them to seek corroborating evidence and prosecute us. A member of the Labour Party however, can expect to be tipped off, warned of the possibility of blackmail and advised to delete any incriminating images on his mobile phone. Perhaps someone should remind the officers of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency that they are employed to serve justice, not Labour politicians. Being brought to trial for conspiring to pervert the course of justice might do the trick.

I don't care that Steven Purcell took cocaine. Frankly, I wish every statist busybody would drug him or herself into addled harmlessness. But for so long as the law controls drug use, it should be applied equally to all. After all, I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Labour Party favours "equality." If he had a gramme of intellectual consistency, Steven Purcell would present a signed confession and insist on being prosecuted. Then he might (though I still doubt it) aspire to treatment "equal" to that the SCDEA would give the mugs who vote for him.

A few days' rest

It's been a fun, but tough, year so far. Just as the Asian working day comes to an end, the one in Europe begins and I have duties on both continents. I am taking a week's holiday in England to catch up on my rest before heading off to the South of France on a business-building mission. All I have planned is a tour of the House of Commons on Monday, escorted by Miss Paine the Younger (who is working there at present) and lunch in the Cheshire countryside with a couple of bloggers - one hyper active and one retired - on Wednesday.

There seems little to blog about at present. All the political stories are tedious and repetitive. Labour has scaled down its fearsome assault on our civil liberties to mere finger-wagging about the size of chip shop chips; such are the intermittent wonders of democracy. It is the calm before the storm and personally I can't wait for it to be over. In the meantime, I hope a few days' rest will restore my blogging mojo.

Pot hole luck

Half of drivers crash or have a near miss swerving to avoid potholes, survey finds - Telegraph.

Vittoria1 ....and some of us have had a tyre so shredded by one as to be incapable of repair by the "gunk" kit provided instead of a spare tyre. I am happy to report that Vittoria still looks wonderful, even on the back of a recovery truck.

Fortunately, I was only a couple of miles from my destination after a long and exhilarating drive. I came to a safe stop just outside a pub, where I had a cheering pint of Guinness while waiting for the truck. And I was only 15 miles from a rare-as-hens-teeth Maserati dealership where she will be sorted in time for me to drive to London on Wednesday evening, as planned.

The loss of 45 minutes from my life and the cost of a new dancing pump (and "gunk" kit) for Vittoria is not too bad. All in all, a very lucky "failure to proceed." But what a sad indictment of a supposedly rich country that, after decade+ orgy of public spending, the roads of Surrey are now so tyre-shreddingly bad.