Friday, 19 March 2010

It's the election stupid

I don't suppose we will ever get the real answer to the allegations in the media today that the union involved in the BA strike - and much else besides - has been laundering money given as Government grants into Labour party funds. This situation has obviously been known of for a long time but has only now broken through into general public knowledge.

The leaking of supposedly confidential
matters seems to be a feature of the lead-up to an election. William Hague was caught after insisting that he was only told earlier this year that Ashcroft was a non-dom, and therefore not paying full UK tax on all his earnings but supposedly confidential papers were released suggesting otherwise.

That leaking is seen as fair game came from snatched photographs of papers carried by Mandy. Though, with my suspicions of him, he may well have done this to stir up further trouble.

I cannot see why we - the electorate - are not treated as responsible beings and told of these matters as they arise. I am left with a very strong feeling that there is much more happening under cover of unnecessary secrecy. This could well be to our detriment.

Freedom of Information was lauded as a marvellous idea but we have seen that it is possible to deny access for many reasons so it is really Some Freedom of Some Information. And that is not right. Morally or politically.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Happy Birthday to You

It is wife Norma's birthday next week - the 23rd. Yesterday, a large parcel was delivered and being addressed to her it was clear that it was one of her presents.

Norma has a past history of not being able to resist opening such items when they get here rather than on the appropriate day. Her usual excuse is "Doesn't say 'Do Not Open until'" but I decided to step in and act. I took and hid the parcel

Now, my present is a very swish four day break away in the depths of the Yorkshire Dales. It is Self-catering so we can come and go when and how and as we wish rather than suffer the tyranny of a hotel. I did not want to have to pack the large box so chose to open it in secret to check if there were any more efficient way to transport the actual contents.

The image to the right above is what I found. I knew it was from my gifted daughter but even so I was gob-smacked! It is a compartmented wooden box about 15" square. The images are from the Family History File. The little flowers are paper and the beading is glass. Even to my famously critical eye, it is faultless. I can imagine this being the star present of all time. It will be touted around all the Quilters and the Embroiderers Guilds. Maybe visits to the local version of the WI will be resurrected so as to further swell the chest with pride at having produced a daughter who has such talent.

It has gone into the large box and been re-sealed. This blog is embargoed not to be published until 23rd March and has to be done now as we may not have full wi etc. in our house.

So, Caroline - thank you so very very much. Even getting the spin-off from Norma's pride and pleasure will be very gratifying. She will be over the moon and rightly so.

Post-script This was set to auto-publish on 23rd soe that Norma did not have opportunity to read it. However, Caroline has given her OK for the box to be opened so this escapes in advance. Again, thanks love xxxxx

Monday, 15 March 2010

Assistance to Rape Victims

A Government review has called for widespread changes in the support available for rape victims. What I find surprising in this day and age is that Lady Stern's report seem to be based on the concept that only women are the victims of rape. The trauma associated with this form of attack is extensive and has similarities with the claims made for the results of the sex act being visited on females.

The recommendations include offering every rape victim a specialist adviser to help them recover after an attack. This would require both male and female specialists if gender issues are addressed. Lady Stern is a prison reformer; note she seeks to reform how prisoners are treated and not how they should be made to pay for their transgressions. She accepts that With rape, it is always going to be difficult to be sure that you'll be able to prove it to the jury beyond reasonable doubt. A lot of victims accepted that. What they felt was really important was not in the end whether the Police get a conviction; they said they still felt they wanted to be believed. I cannot see this point. There is a lot of doubt about all verdicts and, wrong as it may be, many onlookers make up their own minds. If there is no guilty finding, does it mean beyond all reasonable doubt that the complainant was a white stiletto-wearing slag?

Other recommendations included having someone to explain police procedures, provide a link between the victim and detectives, and support the victim in court. Similar schemes have been piloted in some parts of England and Wales but we are not told of the results where such assistance is provided. Forensic medical evidence should be gathered by the NHS, not the police. Not quite sure what this means; currently, such evidence is gathered by the Police surgeon and not PC Plod with his bucket and spade. If the suggestion is that NHS means someone at a A & E department, I'll say now that this would be a total nightmare. Most forces have Rape Suites and there are other facilities

Another proposal was for victims to have their own special lawyer in court, alongside the prosecutor and defendant's representative.

Quite what benefit this would provide is not clear. If there purely as an advisor - OK but were this counsel to get involved in examination of witnesses and accused there is the risk that their questioning might just provide a wider stage for denigration and smearing the character of the woman.

One interesting statistic in the report was that nearly 60% of those charged with rape are convicted. What we do not seem to have details of is the proportion of complaints that get to charges.

This is all rather strange to an old dinosaur like me. In the period of early 50s to mid 70s when I was an Army investigator, almost all rape complaints were handled by males. We just did not have sufficient female detectives who were adequately trained. Certainly, one would be present when the interview with the victim took place. I never had any objections or reservations from anyone claiming rape regarding my asking them the most delicate and probing questions. I suppose, looking back, they were too relieved to have someone listen to them in a sympathetic and adult manner. There was no pussy-footing around. The common situation was that the attacker was a boy-friend or date who was known to the woman and it was for her benefit that any chance he might be able to say that he was led on be evaluated before he did so in public. I suppose what was behind what I think was my success rate in dealing with such offences was that I firmly held the opinion that it was the woman's right to object and control what was happening to her. Even if she said No half way through a sexual act she had willingly - even eagerly - entered into then that had to be respected.

Women were different animals back then anyway. We read accounts now of how women's lives are permanently ruined after rape. I never saw such results - much remorse and fear but no sign that this was lasting to the extent we hear of now. The Solicitor General's comments on the report included "We want all victims to feel confident that when they come forward and report rapes it will be taken seriously and they will be treated with dignity and respect," I cannot understand this comment - are we all so lacking in basic humanity that it is deemed necessary to define dignity and respect as an ideal and not a given?

Sex is now more freely available than ever it was in 'my day'. Then, the female attitude and concern was to hold onto their halfpenny. Now, we have single mothers all over the place. Nothing really wrong in that if it is her free will and choice but the idea that modern (liberated) women need more consideration and support than their predecessors
regarding rape allegations is not one I fully comprehend.

Still concerned at the gender issue. The physical act in male rape is almost identical although differently defined in law. The shock and physical consequences of a male being abused by anal penetration must be the same but it seems they are ignored in Lady Stern's considerations.