Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Tory disunity on Europe

The unity of the Tory Party on Europe was undermined by the issue of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), which had been set up in the late 1970’s in an attempt to stabilise currency fluctuations between member countries. The Conservative government had committed itself to joining the ERM but kept deferring membership until 'the time was right'. Margaret Thatcher appeared happy for this situation to continue indefinitely, but by the mid 1980s her Chancellor, Nigel Lawson and Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe, were both keen for Britain to join. As a dry run for ERM membership, Lawson in 1986 initiated a policy of Sterling shadowing the Deutschmark. Lawson was then at the height of his prestige having presided over an impressive rise in the standard of living. He was given a fairly free hand to manage the economy, without too much interference from colleagues, including Margaret Thatcher.

After a while, Lawson’s policy of shadowing the Deutschmark came under increasing attack from some sceptical economic commentators, most notably Alan Walters, Margaret Thatcher’s economic adviser. He argued that keeping the pound at an artificial level – in Margaret Thatcher’s words 'trying to buck the market', would stoke inflationary pressures. Walters was to be proved right, but not before both Lawson and Howe teamed up in an attempt to bounce Thatcher into the ERM by threatening to resign if she refused. She faced down their demands and before long both were replaced. Unfortunately, their successors were also ERM supporters, John Major as Chancellor and Douglas Hurd as Foreign Secretary. Once again, in the summer of 1990, she came under pressure to join and this time she reluctantly capitulated – she claimed that by then she was the only cabinet member opposed to membership. Within a few months John Major had replaced her as leader.

During the late Eighties both the Labour and Conservative parties began to reassess their attitude towards Europe. (The third major party, the Liberal Democrats, have consistently, almost blindly, supported every move towards greater European integration). Two key speeches signalled a major change of direction for both Labour and the Conservatives. Margaret Thatcher, in her Bruges speech was the first Tory leader to question the drive towards greater European integration and the creation of a European super-state. At about the same time Jacques Delors, then European Union President, in a skilful speech pointed out to a demoralised Labour Party and trade union leaders that they could achieve many of their objectives with the aid of European institutions and legislation. Many Conservatives interpreted this as an attempt to bring about 'socialism by the back door'. Following these two speeches, in a very short period of time there was a distinct change in attitude by both parties towards Europe. The Labour Party was suddenly more enthusiastic whereas the Tories started to become more questioning.

John Major, in one of his first statements after becoming Prime Minister in 1990, declared that he wanted Britain to be at the heart of Europe. However, Major appeared to face both ways, since at the same time he was reassuring the euro-sceptic wing of his party of his opposition to Britain joining the single currency. Major was soon involved in the negotiations for the Maastricht Treaty that sought to establish a framework for the single currency, and extend EC involvement in a number of other areas including the Social Chapter provisions that regulated employment rights and conditions. Margaret Thatcher, supported by a growing band of euro-sceptic MPs, declared that Maastricht was a 'treaty too far'. On the other hand, some of the Tory high command such as Kenneth Clarke and Michael Heseltine made it clear that they would have been happy for Britain to sign up to all its provisions. In the event Major succeeded in achieving a compromise by obtaining an opt out from the Social Chapter, and deferring Britain’s membership of the Euro until such time as it was agreed by the British parliament. If Major thought that this compromise would heal the rifts in his party over Europe he was soon to be disabused of this notion. Shortly after his government’s re-election in 1992 Major was faced with two European issues that would destroy the credibility of his Government – the debacle of 'Black Wednesday', when Britain was ejected from the ERM, and the campaign of opposition by euro-sceptic Tory rebel MPs against the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty.

Britain joined the ERM in 1990 towards the end of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership and against her better instincts. Virtually all her cabinet were in favour of membership as were the Labour and Liberal Democrat opposition, who had regularly castigated the Tories for their hesitancy. Not only were the political parties united on the case for membership, but so too were the CBI, the TUC and the overwhelming majority of newspaper pundits, including the Economist and the Financial Times. The only notable voice of opposition to this cosy consensus was Alan Walters, Thatcher’s former economic adviser who had resigned his post on the same day as Nigel Lawson. The ostensible reasons given by supporters for joining the ERM were that tying sterling to other EC currencies would help peg inflation and provide more exchange rate stability, thus giving more certainty to manufacturers and those trading with Europe. However, the true reason was that Euro-enthusiasts wanted Britain to be fully signed up to the European Project and moves towards a single currency. Walters was again to be proved spectacularly right when he argued that joining the ERM at too high a rate would make Britain uncompetitive and lead to a rise in unemployment and large scale business failures.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Adolescent sexual activity paranoia

Although concern about child protection has increased enormously in recent decades, it has coincided with a large increase in sexual activity amongst those under the age of consent. Sexual relations with teenagers under sixteen can attract severe penalties, yet it appears quite in order for health care professionals to provide young people of this age with contraceptives, or even abortions, without the need to trouble either parents or the law about the matter.

In the 1950s there was little or no sex education in schools and there was a relatively low level of STIs and few single mothers. Today there is compulsory sex education for all children, substantially more single mothers (despite the legalizing of abortion and wider availability of contraceptives) and a huge increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Many ask if there might be some connection. Certainly the value free content of much current sex education material, some of which is gratuitously explicit, reinforces the media message that casual sex is normal and acceptable. Abstinence programmes targeted at teenagers have achieved limited success in the USA, but they are underpinned by evangelical Christian beliefs which are not normally present in most British families.

In the fight against 'child abuse' the police can trawl for witnesses, decades after incidents were alleged to have taken place, offering inducements (and sometimes coaching) to help obtain convictions. Large numbers of teachers have been accused by pupils of sexual offences which, after investigation, are found to be false in the overwhelming majority of cases. This has led to a climate of fear in the teaching profession, particularly for male teachers, who can find themselves on the receiving end of malicious accusations by children with a grudge to bear who have been disciplined for misbehaviour.

Unfortunately, in our highly sexualised society sex, together with cigarettes, alcohol and now drugs, is seen by young teenagers as a rite of passage to adulthood. Many young people in their early teens no longer seem to want to be treated as children, or to be prevented from participating in what they see as the pleasures of adulthood. They no longer appear to need, or require, the protection that the law provides against 'under age' sex. If some recent surveys are to be believed over a third of teenagers under 16 are sexually active, and so if all those involved were charged and convicted, the number of prison places would have to increase tenfold to accommodate them, such is the extent of the activity.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 updated some of the more antiquated laws relating to sex offences. The increased penalties against sexual relations with children under the age of 13 are likely to have widespread support. However, the Act also criminalises all 'consenting sexual activity' among those under 16. In theory this would mean that two 15 year olds caught snogging would be committing a criminal act. Home Office guidance advises that prosecutions would not occur in such a situation. But what would happen if an 18 year old was found canoodling with a 15 year old whom he thought was 16? Theoretically, he (it is highly unlikely that a 'she' would be prosecuted) could receive a jail sentence. Another anomaly is that it is legal to have sex with 16 and 17 year olds, but possessing an 'indecent' image of the same person would be an offence that (theoretically) could attract a fourteen-year sentence. The extent to which paranoia over the supposed paedophile threat has gripped officialdom was demonstrated by the ban, introduced by one Scottish education authority, against parents taking photographs of their children acting in school nativity plays. It is amazing that Mary Whitehouse’s campaign in the 1970s to combat child pornography should have led to some of the repressive, arbitrary, alarmist and absurd measures practised by today's politically correct child protection agencies.

Since 13-15 year olds, in biological terms, are adults for whom sexual attraction is natural, there would appear to be no justification for the harsh sentences which can be applied. Although casual sexual intercourse by and with this age group should be strongly discouraged, as for everyone else, since it can lead to unwanted pregnancy and STIs, it is not in itself unnatural, as would be the case with genuine children, below the age of 13. Many European countries have a lower age of consent than Britain, and a more realistic outlook here on this matter would allow scare resources to be targeted towards real threats. It is difficult to understand the logic of those in the child protection industry who assume that sexual encounters for teenagers under 16 must, by definition, be always traumatic yet, once the age of consent is reached, sex suddenly becomes a liberating and fulfilling experience, that can be engaged in by near strangers without attracting any condemnation. The popular media is saturated with this ethos.

The tabloid media seems to be particularly confused, promoting casual sexual promiscuity for those over the age of consent, but branding those who have a sexual interest in teens of a lower age, even of the opposite sex, as 'perverts' or even 'monsters'. It is clearly ludicrous that young teenagers with normal sexual desires, and who are routinely presented, courtesy of our educational establishment, with graphically explicit sex education material, should be assumed to be incapable of giving consent to sexual activities, particularly as they are considered old enough to be charged with sexual offences from the age of 10. Laws that are based on fantasy rather than reality bring the legal system, and genuine child protection, into disrepute.

In the case of young adolescents, it is interesting to note how the politically correct establishment’s hard line stance on 'child' protection has collided with its demand for homosexual equality. Under current legislation, a predatory 40 year old homosexual who targets and 'grooms' 16 year old youths for casual sex of a biologically most unnatural kind, is deemed to be a fine upstanding member of our community. On the other hand, a 18 year old young man who is in a permanent, loving, biologically entirely normal sexual relationship with a 15 year old young woman, risks a long prison sentence and being placed on the sex offenders register for life. Moreover, children’s charities will condemn his behaviour as 'abusive' and 'exploitative', the tabloids will brand him as a dangerous 'paedophile', particularly if the couple met through internet chat rooms. The young woman will be assumed to be suffering from 'trauma' that will take years to recover from, for which she will be encouraged to receive 'counselling' the effect of which may well be to instil permanent guilt for participating in a natural, albeit unwise (since it is unlawful), activity.

The primary purpose of children’s charities these days appears to be to devise ever more invasive methods to combat sexual activity involving young teenagers, claiming that only they, or state agencies, can be trusted to provide advice and protection on this matter. This agenda is unrealistic, intrusive and a waste of scarce resources that diverts attention from tackling the relatively small number of men who target children below the age of puberty.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Child pornography mission creep

As a result of the publicity generated by the PIE campaign, more media attention began to be focused on child pornography and the dangers from paedophiles, as child molesters began to be termed. Mary Whitehouse organised a petition which attracted over a million signatures against child pornography and, as a result of this pressure, the Protection of Children Act was passed in 1978, which made the possession of child pornography a criminal offence. However, like the Obscene Publications Act, the material prohibited was loosely worded, this time defined as 'indecent' images of children. As this constituted a new criminal offence the sentences were lower than what they would later become, after the paedophile hysteria took hold, and the 'child abuse' trauma narrative became entrenched within children's charities and afterwards the political establishment.

At the time, assurances were given that this measure would not criminalize parents who took innocent photos of their children, such as at bath time or on the beach. However, this reassurance proved to be worthless when the newsreader Julia Somerville, and her partner, were questioned by police about photos of one of her young children in the bath that had been sent for processing. The case attracted a large amount of media attention, much of it critical of the police action and, probably because of the adverse publicity, no charges were brought. However, the suspicion was raised that this might be due to Somerville’s high public profile and liberal credentials, and that ordinary families, in the same situation, could have found themselves in court with potentially serious consequences, as a prosecution, let alone a conviction, could well have resulted in their children being taken into care.

As a consequence of the growing paedophile hysteria the penalties for the possession of the worst kinds of such degrading and depraved material have increased considerably. Until the arrival of the internet convictions were very low, probably due to the difficulty and risks involved. However, the growth of the internet has considerably increased the availability and transmission of child pornography.

Over 7000 UK men who accessed what was claimed to be an American child porn site were identified by their credit card number and their details passed on to British police. One of those identified was the well-known rock guitarist, Pete Townshend. In a highly publicised media event, nearly a dozen police officers were considered necessary to take him into custody and to remove his computers for analysis. Townshend claimed that he only accessed the site for 'research purposes' and, in the end, he accepted a caution. However, over thirty men in a similar position had been driven to suicide and thousands more families destroyed. It has since emerged, to almost no publicity, that the web portal in question also hosted many adult pornographic sites, and that the credit card details for both the adult and child porn sites were combined. Thus many of the men, who were pressurised into accepting a caution by police, as an alternative to the publicity of a court case, may well have been innocent. Anyone accepting a caution for this kind of offence is automatically placed on the sex offenders register.

Regrettably, the laws on this subject are both vague and all embracing since child pornography is not specifically defined as such in legislation. Instead it is an offence to possess or make an 'indecent' image of a child, and for sentencing purposes this material has been graded on a scale from 1-3. Grade 1, the lowest, consists of 'erotic posing'; only the two higher grades involve any kind of sexual activity. The higher the grade, and the younger the child, the more severe are the penalties.

These days, virtually all cases of 'possessing' or 'making' indecent images of children are those found on computer hard drives or electronic storage devices. Images are automatically saved by personal computers, so viewing an indecent image of a child will 'make' the image on the computer hard drive and an offence is committed. A person (in reality only men are likely to be targeted) does not have to deliberately save such an image to be charged, or even to know how to access it. A 'child' is defined as a person below the age of eighteen. Thus anybody who has viewed an 'erotic pose' of a seventeen year old via a computer will have committed an offence, and so will be deemed by the authorities to be a paedophile, and thus a threat to all children. The minimum penalty for this offence is a police caution, acceptance of which will automatically place the individual on the sex offenders register. The maximum penalty is many years in jail, despite no sexual activity having taken place by the male offender.

Any man placed on the register will automatically lose his job if he works with children, and all those with children will be subject to investigation by the social services with the risk that their children may be removed. 'Erotic posing' does not involve any sexual activity or, in the phrase favoured by children’s charities, 'child abuse'. It is reasonable to assume that 100% of adult men are physically attracted to good looking seventeen year olds. So the law has turned them all into paedophiles – but does this mean that they are all monsters as the tabloid newspapers would have us believe? Children’s charities, the tabloid media and the police exaggerate the scale and nature of the problem, by deliberately conflating sexual activity images with relatively innocent or non-abusive pictures that are legally available in most other Western countries.

Viewing genuine child pornography, however vile, does not in itself drive demand unless payment has been made. Paying for such material in Britain is now impossible, due to the near certainty of detection. You do not necessarily have to be a paedophile to view child pornography, the vast majority who do so are likely to be just curious. The notion that those who view it are all child molesters is as ludicrous as suggesting that all those who view adult pornography are rapists. Drivers who exceed the speed limit in towns present a massively greater threat to children than those who view child pornography, yet there are no demands to imprison all such motorists.

Demand for child pornography can be effectively controlled. Broadband providers can block such sites, credit card companies can prohibit payments and the Internet Watch Foundation can proactively or reactively take action against it. The trawling of computer hard drives, and searching homes, for child pornography is a massive waste of scarce police time that might be better spent targeting real child molesters and other serious criminals, as well as a grotesque interference in individual privacy and liberty.

In the circumstances it must be asked whether it is proportionate for the State to invade citizens’ privacy by tracking down such material. No genuine child pornography sites operate in Britain (other than those operated by the police for entrapment). Present laws on child pornography risk criminalising any adult male with a computer, since with the widespread threat from malware, nobody can be certain of what is on their computer or whether it might be illegal. Those obsessive and sometimes unhinged males stridently advocating severe penalties against those caught with this material are in effect turkeys voting for Christmas. All men should wake up to the threat to their civil liberties, and potential harassment by the authorities, with which they may be faced by current child pornography legislation and the blind zeal that accompanies it.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Date Rapes

The underlying premise held by the politically correct establishment, fuelled by decades of feminist misinformation, is that all men are potentially dangerous sex maniacs. Such propaganda places women in constant fear of being raped by a knife wielding, sex crazed attacker, should they be foolhardy enough to venture out after dark. The fact that many women do, in reality, dread this scenario has more to do with the publicity given to feminist exaggeration, allied with sensationalised newspaper reporting, than to actual reality. Cases of violent rape by strangers are extremely rare and comprise only a small proportion of rape cases reported to the police. Such vicious, selfish and unprovoked attacks rightly attract long prison sentences for those convicted. Advances in DNA analysis have greatly increased the chances of detection. However, in the overwhelming majority of rape cases the accused is known to the woman making the charge, in tabloid speak they are 'date rapes'.

It is difficult not to agree with Peter Hitchens' view that rape 'is a subject that can no longer be discussed rationally. Normal rules of rebuttal and consideration of the opposing person's position simply do not apply.' For many decades the feminist agenda on rape has been swallowed wholesale by the political establishment in Britain. This has had the effect of demonising men whilst simultaneously infantilising and sanctifying women. Reform of the law to reflect a better balance between the interests and concerns of both sexes on this matter should now be a priority.

In recent years only about 6-7% of rape complaints have led to a conviction, despite the woman being granted anonymity, unlike the male defendant. The feminist narrative dictates that if a woman accuses a man of rape, he must be assumed to be guilty, and that it should be for him to prove his innocence, an inversion of the traditional legal presumption in the UK. But juries, all of which would have included women, have reached a different conclusion on the putative guilt of men in a significant proportion of date rape cases brought to court, an outcome that has caused much concern to the liberal political establishment. In the words of the late Lynda Lee-Potter 'For too long there has been the myth that every woman who shouts ‘rape’ is a victim. Sometimes she’s a vindictive, plausible liar.' Harsh words, perhaps too harsh, but they do remind us that there is more than one view to this question and that sexual relations can sometimes be a very murky area.

So the victims of rape exaggeration are not just women, for whom a persistent climate of fear has been created, but also innocent men who can spend long periods in custody and have their reputations, careers and marriages shredded by false and malicious rape accusations. They could also find themselves debarred form many jobs requiring CRB clearance. Beneficial changes to the law on rape and other sexual offences would be to prohibit secret accusers in court cases, and to introduce a more robust scrutiny of those making allegations. In the final analysis these cases are one person’s word against that of another, and juries have often shown an unwillingness to convict in such circumstances. For a charge to be pursued, in cases were the alleged victim and attacker are known to each other, there would need to be evidence of signs of force being used plus a requirement that all complaints to the police are made within a week of the alleged attack, so that the evidence remains fresh.

There are plenty of steps that women can take to avoid date rape. Firstly, women should avoid getting drunk, since this reduces inhibitions to engage in the kind of sexual activity they may be reluctant to participate in when sober. Secondly, women should be a lot more careful about the kind of men they find themselves alone with, whether accepting invitations to the man's place, or by allowing them into their own home. Thirdly, sexual intimacy should be the culmination of a relationship. So women should spend some time in getting to know and trust men before placing themselves in a situation where they could be at risk of unwanted sexual attention which might lead to rape. In keeping with today's prevailing culture of casual fornication, too many women behave licentiously and are thus easy meat for predatory men, left to repent at leisure what they agreed to in haste.

If these precautions are followed women would be much better protected against rape than through the vindictive agenda of radical feminists. Women should stop behaving foolishly and recognise the need to take more responsibility for their behaviour and their own protection. In a free society it should not be for the state to police the bedroom activities of grown adults, who should themselves take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The politicisation of sexual behaviour

Although the liberal establishment is generally far more open and accepting of sexual expression and activity than was the case in the pre-permissive era there are two categories, rape and paedophilia, that have become highly politicised, and against which the response of the liberal political elite has hardened considerably. The most serious cases of rape and child molestation have always carried heavy penalties, and there is a near universal consensus across the political spectrum that such crimes should always be severely punished. However, in the past couple of decades an atmosphere of emotional hysteria and scaremongering has attached itself to both subjects, which does not appear to be present to the same degree in other serious crimes such as murder, burglary or robbery.

In the case of rape, the agitation has come largely from feminists whose agenda is central to the politically correct establishment. In respect of the threat from paedophiles, the driving force is a somewhat loose alliance between tabloid newspapers, social services and children’s charities. In both instances the hysteria generated has had a detrimental effect on normal societal relationships between men and women, in the case of rape, and between men and children over the paedophile threat. In both cases the emotionalism and alarmism employed need to be exposed for what they are so that, as a general principle, the law should only intervene when there are unambiguous grounds to do so to address clear instances when a person is likely to suffer harm. As sexual activity is essentially a private matter, in the first instance individuals themselves should be trusted to take responsibility for handling unwelcome sexual advances. Clearly when force, of the threat of force, takes place the law will need to step in to deter such obviously unacceptable behaviour.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Men marginalised in child custody

One area of unpublicised growing child neglect is that more and more children appear no longer to be properly disciplined, in the home, at an early age, before bad behaviour becomes intractable. The primary cause is the increasing proportion of children brought up without fathers, who traditionally provided the firm discipline needed to curb the behaviour of unruly and disobedient children. This problem has been compounded by the large fall in the numbers of men working in primary schools (currently standing at less than 15%), a by-product of the paedophile hysteria. The problem is made still worse as schools no longer possess effective means to speedily discipline children.

The increase in fatherless families is due in part to fathers who have walked away from their family responsibilities. But the increase is mostly fuelled by the rising level of divorce - over 70% of divorce proceedings are now initiated by women. The problem is compounded by the growing numbers of mothers who never married in the first place. There should be no surprise about this since women know they will be provided with generous state support, such as child benefit for lone parents as well as child support payments from the father. In addition, they are likely to retain the family home, or be given priority in the allocation of a council property. As a result it now appears tantalisingly attractive for many women to bypass the traditional vehicle for child support which earlier generations knew as marriage. At the heart of this problem is the fact that the state controlled child support structure is, by its nature, inimical to bolstering support for marriage, since it facilitates a relatively painless escape route from it for women.

In the past women could reasonably claim that the law treated them unfairly. However, with the capture of our institutions by the politically correct class this has now changed almost out of all recognition. There can be no question that family law is now institutionally (in the true sense of the word) biased against men. In the words of Melanie Phillips 'The whole justice system ….is driven by a feminist agenda, which stretched from the humblest family lawyer through the politically correct Law Commission, to reach all the way up to government and the senior reaches of the judiciary'. An example of the latter is the first female Law Lord, Dame Brenda Hale who specialised as a family lawyer. This extraordinarily fast tracked law lady is on record as being in favour of 'gay' adoption and 'marriage', improved legal rights for cohabitees, and for removing all notions of fault from divorce law. This judge-cum-unelected politician appears eager to promote an anti-marriage agenda that would end any meaningful distinction between marriage and cohabitation, a process that is near to fruition. Again, in the words of Melanie Phillips she is the 'principal architect …of the Children Act, which by giving children ‘rights’ has helped destroy the authority of adults and made it impossible for teachers, social workers or even parents physically to restrain children from mischief without the child reporting them to the police.'

A good example of the open discrimination against men, under the current family law regime, is the way in which the children of separating couples are routinely given into the custody of the mother rather than the father. Sir Bob Geldof, who went through a bitter legal battle for the custody of his children, describes his experience of the law as one 'that treats men with contempt, suspicion, disdain and hostility'. One of the main causes behind the publicity stunts carried out by the campaigning group Fathers 4 Justice, is to highlight the plight of fathers denied access to their children by mothers who defy court orders and largely escape punishment. As a result, over 100 children lose contact with their children every day, a process in which both fathers and their children are near helpless victims, a glaring instance of 'child abuse' that goes largely unrecognised by our politically correct, feminist controlled, children’s charities. The driving force behind family law 'reform' is the Law Commission which has regularly promoted an anti-marriage agenda and whose proposals frequently turn into new legislation. This body has been consistently hostile to marriage over the years, pushing for easier divorce and for cohabitation rights. For example it has declared that 'there was no more need to support marriage than ‘any other living arrangement’, and dismissed the high rate of divorce as 'of no great cause for concern'.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Homosexual proselytizing

Following the decriminalisation of homosexual relations between adult males over 21 it came as an unwelcome surprise to many, when homosexuals, or 'gays' as they now chose to describe themselves, quickly started to openly parade what many considered to be a deviant lifestyle and to claim further rights and 'equality'. Events moved at such a pace that that by the late 1970s appeasing the gay lobby became one of the main planks of the politically correct agenda. 'Gay Pride' marches, gay council committees and gay propaganda in schools were all introduced with relatively little resistance.

The self-inflicted tragedy of AIDS, caused by grotesquely high levels of promiscuity, did nothing to curb the advancement of their cause. Liberals (and many conservatives) failed to condemn their outrageous and destructive lifestyle – to do so was considered to be too 'judgemental'. Instead, homosexuals portrayed themselves as unfortunate, but blameless, victims of an unexpected deadly disease. What homosexuals appear to crave is recognition by society that their sexual inclinations are somehow normal. However, the statistics are very much against them since repeated surveys have shown that no more than about 3% of men are homosexual. It is, therefore, technically correct although now highly pejorative, to describe them as sexual deviants. Moreover, the normality of sexual relations between men and women is underpinned by the need for procreation, a test which homosexuality by definition must always fail. However, it is worth remembering that there are other more widely practiced sexual activities, including any which involve contraception, which also fail this test.

The issue of homosexual rights seems to attract strong views amongst both liberals and religious conservatives. Liberals regard it as a touchstone of human rights and the equality agenda. Conservatives with strong religious convictions, single out homosexuality for special condemnation, considering it to be a serious disorder that should be criminalised. However, the majority of people today appear to no longer share such a hard-line position. The criminalisation of homosexuality would not be practicable, since it is unlikely to have more than minimal public support and no jury is likely to want to convict individuals participating in this private activity by consenting adults. Although a significant majority consider homosexuality to be unnatural, most are likely to feel stronger still about the state invading individuals’ privacy. There now appears to be relatively little public support for raising the age of consent for homosexual activities back to 18, let alone 21. Moreover, in practical terms, the question must be asked whether this would be an appropriate use of police and the courts’ time, particularly as it would divert scarce resources away from dealing with crimes of greater public concern such as muggings and burglaries.

Such has been the extent of the liberal takeover on this subject that we have moved for a situation where homosexual practices were criminalised to one where criticisms of homosexuals can trigger police action. This was demonstrated by the case of the author, Lynette Burrows, who in a radio discussion expressed the view (probably shared by a large majority of the public) that placing boys with two homosexuals for adoption was 'a risk'. A listener complained to the police and an officer contacted Mrs Burrows the following day to question her as a ‘homophobic incident’ had been reported against her. Homophobic incidents are now treated as 'priority crimes' by the police. In the words of the journalist Melanie Phillips 'voicing concern about gay adoption now gets the police to finger your collar. Expressing the ‘wrong’ opinion is no longer considered acceptable by the state, which has decided what views are acceptable and what are not. Is this not the definition of a police state?'

Although criminalising private homosexual activities is impractical it does not follow that no action can, or should, be taken by government against the homosexual lobby. In the late 1980s the Thatcher government introduced the 'Section 28' regulation, which prevented local authorities from promoting homosexuality, particularly in schools. Although no prosecutions followed as a result, it probably acted as a brake on some of the more pernicious 'gay' propaganda that was then beginning to be targeted at young people. Section 28 was intensely loathed by liberals, but the public largely supported it, as was shown by the results of an unofficial referendum held in Scotland some years ago. Needless to say, now that Section 28 has been lifted, the gay propaganda machine has gone into overdrive and we now have a gay history month in schools.

Since a large proportion of homosexuals appear to be highly promiscuous, and a hugely disproportionate number of them suffer from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to the detriment and cost of wider society, it would be entirely appropriate to tightly circumscribe the promotion of homosexuality. There is absolutely no justification for brainwashing children into believing that homosexuality is normal, let alone commendable. This would not prevent sex education classes pointing out that a very small minority of people are attracted to their own sex, or to mention in this context that sexual promiscuity greatly increases the risk of catching STIs. Thus there are sound reasons to reintroduce a Section 28 style regulation, proscribing the promotion in schools of homosexuality as a supposedly normal form of sexual expression, and preventing local authorities spending public money on the promotion of homosexuality and lesbianism.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Children in the care of the state

Statistics show that much the worst means of bringing up children is when the state does so directly through what is misleadingly termed the 'care system', operated by local authorities. The number of children 'in care' has grown appreciably during recent decades. Currently, at any one time there are about 60,000 children in care, the majority of whom are placed with foster parents, with most of the remaining residing in children’s homes. The vast majority enter care because of family problems, such as parents who are drug addicts or alcoholics, rather than because of their own behaviour. Sadly, once in care, the future for most of them is bleak - for example, one quarter of the adult prison population has been in care and almost 40 per cent of prisoners under the age of 21 were in care as children.

Out of 11m children under 18 in England, nearly 400,000 come into contact with social services each year as 'children in need', with around 80,000 of them taken into care. When a child is assessed as being 'at risk' because of 'neglect or physical, emotional or sexual abuse', a child protection conference is held. At this stage, the child is added to the child protection register and a child protection plan is drawn up. If no progress is made in the case, the child may be placed with foster parents. If all goes well, they are allowed to return home. Otherwise care proceedings start, usually taking place at a family proceedings court in secret. After such court proceedings many children are removed from their family, although a small number are looked after at home under a care or supervision order. Social workers have a duty to place the child with relatives or close family friends. If this is not possible social workers consider other options such as fostering or adoption. It is at this stage that siblings can be split up, with an older child being fostered and younger children being adopted, a defining moment in childhood when their faith in the child protection system can be lost.

In contrast to the care system, adoption has a good record for bringing up children in a loving, caring environment. In the words of former prime minister Tony Blair 'We know that adoption works for children. Over the years children… have benefited from the generosity and commitment of adoptive families, prepared to offer them the security and well-being that comes from being accepted as members of new families'. However, large numbers remain in care for extended periods and the perception has arisen that this is due in part to the unpopularity of adoption with many social workers. Again, in the words of Mr Blair 'too often in the past adoption has been seen as a last resort. Too many local authorities have performed poorly in helping children out of care and into adoption. Too many prospective parents have been confused, or put off, by the process of applying to adopt, and the time the whole procedure takes. Certainly, adoption has fallen considerably from its peak in the late 1960s, from 20,000 in 1970 to 3,600 in 2014. This principally reflects the sharp reduction in the number of babies of unmarried mothers given up for adoption, driven by the decrease in stigma associated with illegitimacy and single motherhood, and the increased access to contraception and abortion. Although Tony Blair should be commended for the personal action he took to improve adoption procedures, more needs to be done to speed up the removal of children from the care system and, more importantly, preventing them from entering it in the first place.