With A Heavy Heart, I’m Forced To Defend Ken Clarke…

Lara Williams is a writer and copywriter from Manchester. She’s also dumb as a fencepost, but when was that ever a bar to being wheeled out to pontificate in CiF?

She manages to set the tone with her very first few sentences:

You might assume survivors of rape


Sorry, but when do we ever talk about ‘survivors of assault’ or ‘survivors of fraud’, or ‘survivors of burglary’? 

… need all the support that society, and indeed their government, can afford them. And yet, Ken Clarke on Wednesday delivered a special kind of blow to those already down, with his astonishing statement that some rapes were more serious than others.

Which, as has been pointed out time and time again, is not what he said.

What he did say was quite correct, too, albeit people like you would prefer not to hear it.
And don’t think it doesn’t pain me to be defending the EU-worshipping, bleeding-heart old fool… 

I volunteered as a telephone counsellor for three years at Manchester Rape Crisis and we were never required to treat survivors of rape differently.

Well, there’s a shock, eh? I expect if you joined the Samaritans, they wouldn’t tell you to treat calls differently either, even though it’s not the case that 100% of callers intend to kill themselves.

“Date rape” is already a woefully misleading and loaded term, and it must not be characterised as a less serious crime. Instances of date rape are already received with dismissive attitudes, which often seem to imply “oh well, she probably regretted it the next day”, or insinuations that by eating opposite someone in a restaurant, you somehow offered your unbridled sexual consent.

No-one believes that and no-one would insinuate it, either, unless they were a total moron. If the best you can do is build a strawman…

Disassociating one type of rape from another removes a small comfort many survivors have – they are not alone; shattering their experiences into “levels of seriousness” in the public discourse removes a unity survivors can draw strength from.

What’s more important – ensuring that the criminal justice system punishes offences in a proportionate way, or that cozy little victim groups get to console each other?

I’ve a horrible feeling you’d unhesitatingly plump for the latter… 

Clarke made these comments as part of a proposal to increase rape convictions

Which is a nonsense, because, once stripped of all the political and single-issue group tinkering, the rate holds up very well against other crimes.

Clarke is calling for reduced sentencing for those pleading guilty. Are lesser sentences for rapists pleading guilty the most pressing area in need of change within rape trials and investigations? Why not propose extended sentences for those convicted who didn’t plead guilty?

Because they might have pleaded not guilty because they aren’t guilty, despite the judgement of the jury. Or have you forgotten about all those famous miscarriages of justice that the ‘Guardian’ bleats about constantly?

Or address a dismissive and sceptical bureaucracy in which women saying they have been raped are largely doubted?

Do you know why this attitude persists? It persists because there’s a lot of evidence that we’re right to doubt a lot of cases.

Don’t believe me? Well, will you believe this serving police officer

“It’s very frustrating to sit and listen to pundits talking about the low number of rape convictions in Court, when as police officers we all know what lies behind these poor numbers.

For example, I couldn’t possibly tell you that out of every ten rapes which are reported in Ruraltown, at least eight turn out to be nonsense. To be fair, eight out of ten of everything reported at Ruraltown police station is nonsense, why should rape be any different?

I couldn’t tell you that of the remaining two, an existing alcohol-fuelled chaotic drug-based relationship is a factor in at least one of these, and ‘consent’ is probably present in the other to some degree. In my whole service I can only recall three stranger rapes and a half a dozen where consent was withdrawn at the time and he carried on. But I can’t tell you that.”

You know, Lara, the police don’t have infinite resources. And if they have to waste them on allegations like these, who do you think is going to suffer?

“So who suffers when Charlene drops by the nick to accuse Wayne of raping her because she is hacked off that he used her child benefit money for drugs? Who suffers when we deploy a full investigation team, send officers out to arrest Wayne and deploy CSI’s and specialist rape officers to the victim suite, all for Charlene to suddenly decide that she loves him and he didn’t do it after all? Who loses when she can’t identify a scene (because there never was a scene) when we can see on CCTV that Wayne was in the High Street (on his own) at the material time and that her mobile phone records show that she was texting her mate who works at Tesco, right at the time she was supposed to be being brutally taken by the boy?

The next genuine rape victim to walk into the police station, that’s who. The next genuine victim who may face the cynical looks and delayed reaction from officers who have just finished dealing with the last ten Charlenes.

I also shouldn’t tell you that it is Force Policy, in all but the most exceptional cases, not to prosecute Charlene for wasting police time. Apparently this would prevent genuine victims from coming forward. Make no mistake, the genuine victims suffer, the detection rate is low and we keep pretending that everything is alright.”

But you’ll no doubt dismiss this as yet another instance of ‘the system’ being biased against women, won’t you?

One of the reasons why I eventually stopped volunteering with Rape Crisis is because at the end of one phone call, there is always another. And another. And another.

Oh, you poor love! Did you think that once you’d settled your bum on a comfy chair, armed yourself with a big mug of coffee and some biscuits, listened sympathetically a few times and said ‘there, there…’ when appropriate, it’d all be sorted out? There’d be no more rapes, ever again?

It strikes me that the reason we can no longer have a sensible debate about this subject is not so much the cold, calculating political machinations of the likes of Vera Baird and Harriet Harman, but because of the hysterical, unreasoning, unwilling to see the truth stance of the Laras of this world…

18 comments for “With A Heavy Heart, I’m Forced To Defend Ken Clarke…

  1. May 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    It must be awful to be not only a victim of rape but to have the bodily structure, to put it clumsily, which is susceptible to it. I know men can be raped too but mainly in prison and other dangerous situations.

    What is worse is the way it is a power thing so often, although frustration and desperation come into it too.

    Having said all that and having known some women who were “genuinely” raped, in that it was not part of their daily plan that day in any way, shape or form, I still agree with you and with the Pink-Tory himself on this.

    It strikes me that the reason we can no longer have a sensible debate about this subject is not so much the cold, calculating political machinations of the likes of Vera Baird and Harriet Harman, but because of the hysterical, unreasoning, unwilling to see the truth stance of the Laras of this world…

    It’s so difficult too when there are only two sexes and this is deeply embedded within the discussion frame of one of them. Men’s opinions then become irrelevant and the emotion of rape [which I imagine is appalling] clouds any rational discussion.

    As you can gather – I feel strongly about this but don’t know how to go about getting rational discussion going. My/our caustic tongue[s] do[es]n’t help either.

    Yet we need this discussion.

    • May 24, 2011 at 5:58 am

      One of the most insidious ways of shutting down any debate is the ‘you can’t experience XX so you have no right to talk about XX’.

      It’s this that feminists and other dishonest interlocutors deploy to halt discussion and foster the view that, on rape, ‘men’s opinions then become irrelevant’…

      • Paul
        May 24, 2011 at 6:59 am

        Not forgetting that men are raped too though it’s rare when done by women.

        • May 24, 2011 at 8:04 am

          Oddly, when done by women, it ISN’T ‘rape’, but rather ‘sexual assault’… 🙄

          • Paul
            May 24, 2011 at 10:28 am

            So forcing a man to penetrate them isn’t rape then?

          • May 25, 2011 at 5:46 am

            Nope, not in the legal sense.

  2. fake
    May 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Why assume that lara williams is stupid?

    I suspect she very well knows that she is writing bollox, but knows her audience well, and knows they will shovel it down.

    • May 24, 2011 at 5:59 am

      Judging by the comments, she’s partly right. But only partly, which is heartening.

  3. Sue
    May 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I have a sneaking suspicion that this latest episode of Ken Clarkes is not just about the rape issue. I think that the public are generally absolutely sick and tired of criminals and soft sentences. They are beginning to feel (and quite rightly so), that criminals aren’t getting the sentences they deserve.

    • PPS
      May 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      What sentence would be good enough?

      • May 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm

        I’m of the opinion that victimless crimes should not result in a prison sentance.
        I think prison should be resverved for crimes against the person or property.
        I also think sentances should be meaningful and not reduced for good behaviour. On the contrary, a model prisoner would complete their full term and a trouble maker would have time added on thier bit.

        • PPS
          May 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm

          I hear/read a lot about ‘the public’ or their apparent* representatives being unhappy about sentence discounts. What I hear less of is what ‘the public’ think is an adequate sentence.

          I get the sense that no matter what the sentence, it’s just never enough.

          *How does anyone know what the public think? Are they surveying everyone?

          • May 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm

            I presume the public are just those who wail in the comments sections of newspapers or the victims families you see leaving court.
            As to what a proper sentance is, I don’t know. If you were to leave prison for people who harm person or property then I imagine it would be more than a piddling few weeks.

          • May 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm


            I don’t know who you spend your time with, but I’m pretty certain that the average person is sick and tired of people who commit proper crimes getting let off as if it’s no big deal.

            There has been a collapse in faith in the very concept of justice, and it has occurred amongst the ruling classe. The solution is not complicated. The criminal law is surely the easiest part of the law. All that is required is for the truth to be re-established; that it is wrong to steal and commit violent acts on other people, and that it will be punished if and when it takes place.

            Clarke is getting it in the neck not because of his attempt to differentiate between classes of rape, but in his being so dripping-wet. He wants to let people out of jail to save money and because he has no understanding of what the ordinary members of society want. I’ll tell you what they don’t want: violent criminals set free to commit further vile crimes.

      • Sue
        May 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

        It’s not for me to judge but quite obviously the system that is in place now for shorter sentences, community service and rehabilitation doesn’t work.

        I think our prisons are far too lax and I really believe in a “punishment” rather than just loss of freedom.

  4. May 23, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Excellent post. Dissects Williams’ piece of emotional string-pulling very well indeed. How the Guardian could publish it I don’t know. No really – even the Guardian should balk at stuff like this.

    • May 24, 2011 at 6:00 am

      I’m just awaiting yet another column on the MEP’s comments! 👿

  5. Bio Hazard
    June 29, 2011 at 10:54 am

    How many men do you think are actually out there that could, would rape a woman? Rape in its real sense, not some fumbled six of one half a dozen of the other childish, perhaps even both drunk regrettable fuck. A jump out of the bushes, predatory, assault. Not only do I suggest very few but I also suggest that this type of crime is not gender specific. A raft of women have been exposed of abusing children and we have been led to believe a man made them do it, FFS.

    We see women desperate to try and prove they are second class humans, the truth if they bothered to apply themselves they have every chance in the world to do just as well as men. We see women afforded all sorts of rights and privileges to defend their gender in this allegedly sexist world. The truth, men have given up trying to be fathers, it is a dream that is dangled in front of them and used as a lever to abuse them. The threat of crying rape, suggesting even that a man overstepped the mark is enough to destroy a man regardless of fact.

    Women, you hit, you belittle, you lie. So like Julia, grow up and reject your pathetic, parasitic womankind so called friends. They simply do no favours to the cause.

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