Some of my Lib Dem Blogs colleagues have been unaccountably sniffy about Jacqui Smith’s brilliantly clear and incisive analysis of the situation we have with sex trafficking and prostitution. Personally, I think it’s brilliantly sensible, makes absolute sense, and the same strain of thought should be rolled out more widely to solve other problems.
For instance, sweat shops. We all know that the people who are buying garments cheaply from chain stores, without knowing that they haven’t been manufactured by child labourers or otherwise exploited workers, are partly morally culpable, so why don’t we make it illegal for them to buy these garments? Ignorance of the consequences of their actions is no excuse, and we can all agree that this is a stain on the conscience of our society, and action must be taken, etc.
Of course, the business lobby will suggest this will “unfairly” punish customers who buy many “legitimate products”, by simply putting them off buying any products at all. But I think anyone with any sense will recognise that this is a sensible direction to go in. I mean, yes it’s a shame to have an adverse effect on the livelihood of people in good, legal jobs on a living wage, but we shouldn’t let that get in the way of cracking down on this great social evil. So lets bang up anyone who buys a cheap item of clothing that turns out to have been made by an eleven year old!
Phew, I’m not sure I could have kept that up much longer. I don’t know how Labour ministers do it.
Seriously, is there anyone who can explain to me what the thinking on this policy is? Can you, dear reader, think of a single other instance where the same thinking would make much sense whatsoever? I can’t. I mean, if people are being exploited, surely the thing to make illegal is the exploitation, and the best way to enforce that is to make said industry as transparent and open as possible, so that it can be suitably regulated and investigated. No?
Jacqui Smith should just be honest, and say that she doesn’t like prostitution, and she wants to ban it. I mean, that’s the only way this makes sense, because as an attempt to tackle trafficking it’s fucking bonkers. But she’s frightened of being honest, because she knows she’d lose the argument: it’s the world’s oldest profession and she’d just drive it further underground, etc. Instead, she fudges a policy together that achieves actually fuck all, is probably worse than either an outright ban or a destigmatisation and legalisation, but which allows her to muddy the political water on this just enough to get away with not doing anything that might be perceived as bold.