Monday, 11 July 2011

A Victory for Public Decency not Celebrity Anger

I read the News of the World. At least I used to. I didn't read it every week but that doesn't really matter, does it? Plenty of people will judge me just for occasionally going near the previously best selling paper in the English language.

Until recently disapproval of the NoW and its followers has come in two forms. Firstly the (not necessarily religious or partisan) puritan element of society (as pointed out by Toby Young) or a snobbish tut-tutting at the working classes' choice of newspaper (see Brendan O'Neill for details).

That all changed with revelations about Milly Dowler and the families of bereaved armed forces personnel. And fair enough. Not one person has offered a defence of such heinous behaviour and it cost a lot of innocent journalists, subs and auxiliary staff their jobs.

Since the paper's demise the criticism has changed once again. Poor Millie Dowler and her family aren't getting much of a look-in.

Instead of hearing from the innocent we are being lectured by those whose guilt was uncovered by NoW (among others).

Hugh Grant (soliciting a prostitute), Steve Coogan (drugs and several affairs), John Prescott (affair), Chris Bryant (posed in underwear online), Max Mosley (S & M orgy) have all been celebrating the fall of the NoW with a mixture of glee and bile that they can barely contain.

They are now leading the charge for tighter regulation of the press. It's as if they have won a great victory are now writing their own treaty of Versailles to impose on the vanquished.

Should these new champions of morality stop to consider for a moment they will realise they have won no victory at all. Their complaints about media intrusion have been going on for years and the public did not care enough to put Rupert Murdoch off his breakfast nevermind buying B Sky B.

Then the NoW treated innocent people the way it had previously treated the guilty and the public turned on them. The tabloids' critics scent blood and want them regulated without thinking for a moment that it was investigative journalism that exposed the NoW in the first place.

Saint Hugh told Question Time that he was not in favour of regulating the broadsheets just the tabloids. This shocking piece of snobbery conveniently forgets that the NoW uncovered and campaigned on issues that meant a lot to its readers. From naming paedophiles to stories about bank robberies. Not just shining a light on celebrity naughtiness and hypocrisy.

His Hugh-liness was probably remembering his claim in May that celebrity injunctions were "fabulous", that successful men were naughty by nature and deserved privacy while forgetting that tabloids have their role too.

If the public were to lose the right to learn about celebrities misdemeanours (or worse) all we would ever know about famous people is what their expensive PR people tell us. They could then profit from this image and no one would ever know the truth.

The Guardian has done its job splendidly by revealing a scandal and letting the public make judgement. Just like the NoW used to do.

Steve Coogan told Newsnight that the NoW was in the gutter before the recent scandal. The public should remember who they found there and ask if they are the best judge of decent behaviour.

Thursday, 30 June 2011


There has been a status going around on facebook and Twitter asking: "Remember when police officers, teachers, nurses, binmen etc crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No, me neither."

That's not an exact quote by the way but Johann Hari told me it was okay to paraphrase.

Obviously this ties in with the unions line that the public sector is not to blame for the current financial situation and therefore should be allowed to pretend it doesn't exist. Nevermind solidarity with workers in the private sector who have a far worse deal than the new one put before public sector workers. Or that no recession in history has only been paid for by those perceived to have caused it. The public sector didn't cause the crisis so they should be untouched.

So who is responsible? Let's find them and make them pay!

Ah yes, the bankers. A difficult group to defend seeing as they are a pretty odious bunch. Gambling all that money. Leveraging far too many times their equity for greater and greater profits.

What on earth inspired them to be so reckless? Greed, clearly. The wish for more and more seems to be a required qualification for investment banking. That is the public perception of bankers and who would dispute it?

If bankers are so inherently rapacious why weren't they behaving in this way before?

The simple answer is that they weren't allowed to.

When Labour came to power in 1997 Blair and Brown were faced with a dilemma. They represented a 'New' Labour Party that was not going to raise taxes and was business friendly. No more socialism for them.

Their new way was to have as many people as possible employed by the state and give them wages that were better than the private sector and still have great benefits. Whatever their reasons for this (bribing the electorate, inherent love of a large state or improving standards of living depending on your point of view) it needed to be paid for.

Mr Blair was the smiling face of this new business friendly Labour Party and he found a way of getting business to pay for it. Not by taxing them more of course, that would never do. How else then? By deregulating banks and allowing them to take bigger risks and make bigger profits. This way the Exchequer would receive larger sums of tax revenue without putting taxes up, bankers would make a fortune and public sector jobs would suddenly become very desirable.

It worked brilliantly. All the gambles paid off or were covered up with no effective regulation to uncover the losses. People got used to the idea that it was affordable to have a public sector where people retired early and received the same wages as an equivalent private sector worker who retired later.

Then, as with all gamblers, the banks eventually lost. With this there was suddenly no way of paying for such an expensive public sector.

Seeing as these risks were taken to pay for public sector salaries and pensions perhaps people facebook status should read: remember when the demands of the public sector caused the banking crisis?

Friday, 29 April 2011

Unelected Yet Unpolitical

A million people lined the streets to cheer them on. That's according to the police anyway. I've often wondered how they calculate figures like that. Well, not that often.

The royal wedding brought with it the typical twitter polemic. I'm not in the habit of quoting tweets and I'm not going to start now. I will quote a hashtag though. #ashamedtobebritish started trending as a response to the #proudtobebritish trend turning peoples collective stomach.

It was the ideas of deference, class privilege and unelected power that was getting the former's goat and the flag waving romance and fairy tale nature of the thing that was doing whatever the opposite of getting one's goat is for the latter.

Personally I find all the hysteria a little hard to bear and I am incredulous at people lining the streets for hours or days on end. Honestly, what do they do all day?

Although it might not be my cup of tea at least they were getting in to the spirit of things. The #ashamedtobebritish crowd missed the point.

The idea that Britain has something to be ashamed about by having an unelected head of state is way of target. There are lots of reasons why it's so wide of the mark but let's stick with the biggest reason. Royal's don't have any power. I know, weird isn't it? Some part of our consciousness will always struggle with this notion but it doesn't stop it being true.

The role of the monarch is not to wield power of any kind. Should Liz II disagree with anything Parliament wishes to do she can do nothing about it. In fact, she has less power than an ordinary citizen (that's right, not subjects. Another anachronism used by the #ashamed crowd). She can not make her voice heard on any political issue.

The monarch's role is to represent the nation. By this I do not mean represent every individual or group in the country. That should be Parliament's job. Would you feel better represented by a President Blair or Cameron? The royal family represent Britain's historical institutions and what has made Britain the country it is today and what will shape its future.

With a monarch as non-executive head of state politicians are reminded that their glory is transient. Their careers will end but the country will endure. A non-political, unelected head of state reminds the Government that it is the country that they serve not just their political supporters and short term goals. Let the politicians fight for our affections while the country rises above it all.

Once you realise this the other criticisms such as deference and privilege can be seen in a different light. Your are not bowing or curtsying merely to a posh individual. You are showing respect to the nation itself.

So congratulations to the happy couple and may they ensure the continuation of the family. Just don't expect to see me lining the Mall. I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

An Alternative to Remember

Ever met a friend of yours a couple of days after a party and said to them: "What a great evening so and so's was. I had a lovely time." Only for them to tell you that it was a dreadful evening and recite a list of things you didn't think made any difference but clearly ruined it for them?

It's hard to imagine how you can both remember the same night so differently.

I imagine this must happen to Lib Dem President Tim Farron quite a lot. Not that I've ever been to a party with him or even had the pleasure of speaking to him but going by how he remembers his history I think it's a fair guess.

I had always reckoned that Britain's political system had played a key role in making her the first major nation to permanently abolish slavery. I say permanently because France re-introduced slavery after deciding egalite only goes so far.

Mr Farron remembers things a little differently.

He seems to think that the British electoral system hindered the process of abolition despite being the first to introduce it and then vote through colossal amounts of money to promote the cause throughout the world. I suppose his point is that if other countries had had AV they might have beaten us to it.

Perhaps when people seem to remember things differently they're just being dishonest. You know what I mean. The people who have to dislike everything to appear cool. A good way of spotting this is a general inconsistency in their opinions. Now that band has become popular they no longer like them, that sort of thing.

In the case of the Yes campaign this inconsistency is starting to show. I don't just mean Farron's strange interpretation of history but that now AV is being sold as a way of keeping the Tories out no matter what. So a system that was originally sold as representing all voters is revealed as nothing more than partisan opportunism. One that is now finding all sorts of excuses for why they're so far behind in the polls. Though you can always rely on Polly Toynbee to add to the bitterness of a campaign.

They seem to have given up on debating the issue of voter empowerment and are just hoping that turn out will be low and that enough Labour supporters will follow their party line.

As Robert Colvile points out in the Telegraph the Yes campaign has not been entirely honest in it's campaigning particularly how it tries to make out it has less funding that the No campaign. Colvile has a series of articles explaining why you should vote no. Along with an excellent Evening Standard piece by Matthew d'Ancona the argument against is outlined far better than I could ever hope to.

Byron once said that hope was the paint on the face of existence, the least touch of truth rubs it off. He could have been speaking about the Yes campaign.

Monday, 28 March 2011

St. Ed-o's Fire

I'd never seen a Brat Pack movie before. Not that I was brimming with enthusiasm when the other half expressed her desire to watch St. Elmo's Fire on Friday night.

While the credits were rolling I thought I'd have a quick look at what IMDB had to say about this undiscovered (in my case) gem. The summary at the top of the page is quite superb:

"A group of friends, just out of college, struggle with adulthood. Their main problem is that they're all self-centered and obnoxious."

Seemed a pretty fair summation, though it was hard to give the film my full attention due to the hypnotizing nature of Rob Lowe's dangly earring.

This was not going to be the last example of people finding the real world hard that would hit our screens that weekend.

The news had included coverage of the 'People's Policy Forum' which Labour had organised in Nottingham earlier that day.

Ed Miliband and the shadow cabinet were there to listen to members of the public and to take on board their opinions and fill some of those much publicised blank pages of Labour policy.

It's hard to know whether Mr Miliband considered this meeting a success or not. Although he must find it comforting to address a large crowd of supporters there does not seem to have been many policy ideas, just a lot of burying of heads in sand.

In an excellent blog the Economist's Bagehot's Notebook reported that the meeting consisted of people he (is Bagehot a he?) described as wanting Labour to wave a magic wand and make the cuts go away.

Bagehot claims that there was no balance in the meeting and that the overall attitude was that 'all public spending was good and that private companies exist to pay more taxes'.

Suggested new policies included 'Robin Hood' tax on financial transactions and clamping down of tax avoidance (seemingly confused with tax evasion) to remove the need for any cuts.

To give Mr Miliband his due he did not pretend to the audience that this was the case. He told them that there was no way to completely avoid cuts in public spending. The problem here is that he is not being entirely straight with his audience. If he does not give detailed proposals saying what would be cut he allows people to believe that under Labour their job/benefit would be safe.

Even Rob Lowe's character would be shocked by this sort of denial of reality.

Bagehot also points out that part of Mr Miliband's job at this gathering was to lay the groundwork for his speech to the TUC March for the Alternative the next day.

As we saw, the key part of his short speech was presenting the demonstrators as the mainstream majority of the UK. Not actually outlining any alternative.

Coincidently (!) the same day the Guardian published the results of a poll it had commissioned on how people felt about Government spending plans.

Unfortunately for Ed the results weren't on message. Fair play to the Guardian for still printing them even if they tried a bit too hard to force an angle on the story making the stats more UK Uncut friendly.

So off Ed went to the March for the Alternative without having outlined any serious alternative and with his confidence surely shaken by the results of the Guardian's survey.

So what do you do when you're feeling a bit down? Big yourself up of course! And boy did Ed big himself up. In a no holds barred delusion fest he likened the protesters cause to anti-apartheid, civil rights and universal suffrage. To save a bit of space please see my previous blog for views on this sort of self-aggrandisement.

As pointed out by Sam Bowman on Twitter the Labour Party has drifted from supporting the working class poor to focusing on public sector workers. Despite their claims this does not create a fairer society. An example of this is that many of the people on Saturday's march were upset about potential changes to their lucrative public pensions. These pension schemes are unfair. People in the private sector who can not afford adequate pension cover for themselves are subsidising those who often earn more than them.

To paraphrase George Bernhard Shaw: by supporting this Labour are merely robbing Peter to pay Paul because Paul votes Labour.

By attempting to galvanize this sector's support Labour are concentrating on the material loss caused by the cuts and ignoring economic arguments. This is similar to how the Tories are putting to one side the moral arguments for a smaller state in favour of economic ones.

Perhaps the comparison with the Brat Pack was unfair. People are being deprived of things they had come to take for granted. However, the indignation of protesters misses the point. "What have we done to deserve this?" Alison Foster, a 53 year-old teacher is quoted as asking the New York Times. This harks back to the People's Policy Forum where the attitude of those attending was that of entitlement. "We are all entitled" starts Bagehot's article.

Nevermind the possible objections to such entitlement or the fact that no one had done anything to deserve the good times either. The fact is that there is no money to pay for them. Wishing that there was does or that this is all ideological does not make it so. It is time that the Labour Party lived up to its title as 'Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition' and gave us some details of what would be so different if they were in charge instead of hiding behind people's fear.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

There's a Lot of Miles Between Tripoli and Islington

There has been little else but Libya on the news now for what seems like weeks. Part of the reason there has been so much coverage is that news hounds love it: big news, real news, hard news, good news. I mean bad news. You know what I mean.

Remind me how it all started, could you? Was it tuition fees? Or cuts to community groups? Has Gaddafi been laying off civil servants left, right and centre?

Oh no, hold on. I remember. It's the 40 years of brutal disenfranchisement, people being made to disappear, systematic use of torture to quell dissidents of a government that controls every aspect of their lives.

Those other things, the cuts and fees and that, they were why Islington town hall was 'stormed' in some 'direct action' last week.

As you can perhaps tell by the use of language such as 'storm' these protesters are taking themselves very seriously. They sense revolution is in the air and they are the vanguard.

Yet it is not really revolution that they're after. Laurie Penny's latest New Statesman article compares the struggle of anti-cuts protesters in the UK to those opposing Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. Part of her comparison focuses on how both groups are fighting for self-determination. That the causes are separated only by scale not substance.

Utter nonsense. There is no similarity in substance either. Protesters are using rights they have to demonstrate their unhappiness at their government's action. In Libya the government can not truly be called 'their' government as neither they nor any other resident had anything to do with its formation. I nearly said citizen instead of resident but that would imply they have rights which they do not.

In fact, if you were a bit of a wag there's a different comparison you could make. The protest groups in Britain are 100 per cent certain that their cause is just and that everyone agrees with and loves them. This means they are justified in taking whatever action is necessary to win. Who in the Middle East does that sort of self aggrandisement compare with?

In reality the protests in this country are about maintaining the status-quo. A status-quo that led to Britain having a massive budget deficit that could no longer be maintained once the world economy collapsed. Whether your vote for the Lib Dems was miscast or not (as of course it would have been under any electoral system) more people voted for them and the Tories than for Labour. Not that Labour wouldn't have been cutting away at expenditure either. They just decline to tell us where.

Being able to accept electoral defeat is part of living in a democracy. Campaign in the meantime and in a few years you'll be able to vote once again.

In Libya the people are braving terrible danger to try to gain the right to vote. That is the fight for self-determination.

But still, who cares? That's just my point of view, which I'm as free to write here as Penny was free to write her's in the New Statesman. And protest all you like. Go to council meetings, make your voice heard. You're allowed.

While doing so try to remember that this is the right that people in Libya are fighting for. Not a policy issue. If they lose the survivors won't be able to do anything about it. You will. You just have to wait till the next election. As there will always be another election in this country you could say that you can never be completely defeated.

How's that for solidarity?

Monday, 21 February 2011

AV Not As Easy As 1, 2, 3

This week has seen the papers finally start to talk seriously about the referendum on electoral reform that will take place on May 5.

Not that one can blame them for taking their time covering this story. After all, there are far more important stories about fairness and democracy going on the other side of the Mediterranean. Perhaps these stories should put the Yes campaign's grievances with First Past the Post (FPTP) in to perspective.

Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer (20/02/11) went for a preemptive strike against the No campaign's argument that the Alternative Vote (AV) was too complicated by claiming that that was going after the 'Thicko' vote.  Rawnsley seems to believe that by too complicated the No campaign mean that people are too stupid to be able to put their top three candidates in order. He makes it sound like the No's are saying people can't count to three.

I'll credit Rawnsley here with misrepresentation. I wouldn't for a second presume that people who don't agree with me are too thick to understand the argument. Let me try to explain what I think they mean.

The point the No's are trying to make is this: As we have seen with the raise of tactical voting AV would encourage people to try to manipulate their extra votes by putting a party that would never win as their first choice and a mainstream party as their second or third.

This will lead to an abdication of responsibility of the voter. Suppose you have some sympathy with an extremist party, say the BNP. You would be able to put them as your first choice on the basis of one issue, for example immigration. You would not have had to have read their manifesto and may even have been appalled by it if you had. You care about immigration so vote BNP first then one of the main parties second.

No big deal you might say. During the first couple of elections that would be true. There will come a time, however, that a marginal seat will be won for a major party by people who voted BNP (or whoever) first and the major party second. If it hadn't started before then that will mark the beginning of the main parties 'listening' to extremist groups so as to secure the second votes of their supporters. Extreme parties might be against AV because they will never reach 50 per cent of the vote but it will turn them in to more successful lobby groups.

Starting to sound a bit more complicated than counting to three, isn't it?

Rawnsley, along with all AV supporters, believe that 50 is a magic percentile. That an individual candidate reaching it is worth changing a system that has given us stable and middle ground governments for time immemorial.

I believe that one is also a magic number.

One person, one vote was a popular slogan for universal suffrage a hundred years ago. Do we really want to do away with that principle? A principle that was so hard won.

AV would create an unequal democracy with some people having more than one vote by virtue of their immoderate views.

Although I won't dwell too much on this Rawnsley also implies that FPTP supporters are little Englanders. That pointing out that hardly any other nation uses AV for general elections is trying to make it sound un-British. It is in fact internationalist to look at other nations and the systems they use. Having done that you would be foolish indeed to not ask yourself why so few go for AV.

Rawnsley's article also makes several assumptions about those who fall in the D/E class bracket. He says that the D/E's are more likely to be persuaded and more likely to stick with the status quo. I'm sorry but that is nonsense. A sweeping statement like this could just as easily be made that they are more likely to follow the line taken by the Labour leadership.

None of this is to say that FPTP is without problems. Of course there are plenty of things wrong with it. These problems will not be solved by AV. Elections will still come down to marginal seats and the House will still not perfectly reflect numbers of votes cast for each party. Only Proportional Representation can fix those problems. Though, like every other it would bring its own difficulties to the table. At least it would also bring benefits.

Unlike AV.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Dictators Aren't Elected

The irony is almost too much to bear. In fact, it's so great that I feel I must be missing something. So if I am please feel free to put me right in the comments section.

An member of an unelected group who hold power over millions of lives has suggested that Britain will resemble a dictatorship if it doesn't do as they say.

That's right. The unelected group accuse the Mother of all Parliaments of running the oldest democracy in Europe like a dictatorship.

The issue that has spurred this lunacy is votes for prisoners, the unelected body is the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the member is John-Paul Costa.

Now before I go on I should make my own position clear.

I personally am in favour of prisoners having the vote. Unless you see disenfranchisement as part of the punishment then I can't see why you would be in favour of denying them them the vote. Particularly those only serving short terms.

One of the reasons I don't believe in removing the right to vote is because I am strongly in favour of a full and healthy democracy. Everyone lives here, everyone should be able to vote. There are a few practical difficulties with what seem to be known now as 'lags' but nothing we can't overcome. For example, if prisoners were given the vote in the constituency that they resided in prior to their spell in the big house then there would not be a problem of prisons influencing the outcome of the constituency they happen to be in.

This is not really about prisoners' votes though, is it? It is about who runs this country.

Earlier this month the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly against the ECHR's decision. What made the vote so striking was not just the huge majority of 212 (234 - 22). The debate had been tabled by arguably the two most senior backbenchers of the Conservative and Labour Parties, David Davis and Jack Straw. That such eminent members of both main parties should be able to find common ground and that so many other MPs should turn out to vote on an issue that technically they can now do nothing about shows the strength of feeling in the House.

Would it not make sense that if the ECHR makes a recommendation and Parliament rejects it that should be the end of the matter? After all, what sort of democracy do we live in when the elected representatives of the people can not decide on the laws of the land?

I should add that this is not an attack on the ECHR as an institution in principle. Rather this is a defence of democracy as a principle. The British Supreme Court also has no business dictating to Parliament. Parliament makes the laws and courts enforce them.

For Mr. Costa to compare Parliament to a dictatorship because MPs wish to carry out their function of representing those who elected them is grossly insulting and shows a complete ignorance of what democracy is.

There has been some confusion in parts of the press between the ECHR and the EU. Understandable in a way as they both suffer from democratic deficits. The ECHR is part of the Council of Europe. Don't worry if you haven't heard of that, you didn't get a chance to vote for them after all.

The CoE's mission is to promote human rights, democratic development and the rule of law. I apologise if reading that has made you spit coffee all over you laptop but you read correctly. Democratic development and the rule of law.

An unelected body promoting democracy and the same body wishing to override the oldest Parliament (and by default law making institution) promoting the rule of law.

I would appreciate another of Mr. Costa's comparisons. This time explaining to me how that makes sense.

Because the irony is killing me.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Exclusive: Giles Coren is Not the Devil

Wow. Giles Coren really knows how to upset people doesn't he? At least he does if Twitter is to be believed.

The day of his article in the Daily Mail claiming that it is more socially acceptable for women to make sexist remarks about men than the other way round Coren received quite a lot of stick in a 140 characters or less.

Most of this was good natured tutting at Coren's deliberate wind up about child birth being easy or him claiming that: "Women are far meaner, more brutal, aggressive,  small-minded, jealous, petty and venal than any man."

Utter nonsense of course but surely that was the point? Maybe I'm given Coren too much credit but surely he knew that would get people Tweeting him and leaving comments on the website expressing their outrage at such sexism. Isn't he just illustrating his point? Say something about women and you get called all sorts of names.

Some people missed the point a lot more dramatically than others. Scottish Socialist Youth posted an article entitled 'Giles Coren, What a Cunt.' It proceeds to denounce Coren by outlining every bit of attempted humourous hyperbole and taking it at face value.

Sometimes you just want to say to people 'He's winding you up mate.'

The author also goes on to say something along the lines of 'Sexism is about power. Men have all the power in the world therefore women can't be sexist.' Nevermind the fatuousness of this argument it's so far of topic as to be risible. All Coren was doing is drawing a parallel between Andy Gray and Richard Keys' stupid 'joke' and the endless similar 'jokes' on shows like Loose Women and virtually every advert. Neither have a lot to do with real issues of sexism but do happen to be remarkably similar. The only difference being that the bollocks on Loose Women is considered legitimate content (God knows what they reject) while Gray and Keys have to be closet sexists.

I feel that Coren was just trying to make people upset thinking that that will demonstrate the lunacy or the whole situation. Having said that he does get a bit carried away but if you've ever read any of his articles in the past you'd know that that's his style. I'm not condoning his style (he's wound me up a bit in the past as well) but calling him a cunt is a bit much.

Though perhaps it's not really his Daily Mail piece that upsets those at the Scottish Socialist Youth that much. They make lots of references to how 'posh' he is. Though they do claim they don't care about that. Just before calling him a posh dick.

Taking Coren's wind up about Gray/Keys being like Loose Women and comparing it to being followed home by a stranger from the bus is far more offensive. It has nothing to do with the patriarchy's control over women. As socialists you would think they would have a better understanding of what control means.

On SSY's comments section the author delights in how much traffic their article has generated (along with accusing an English reader of cultural imperialism for not knowing that they don't have 6th form in Scotland). All of that traffic has come from Coren himself retweeting your article.

What a cunt.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Anonymous by me

Julian Assange. When you hear that name what do you think of? Do you take the Jemima Khan view that he is a champion of the free press and the one man brave enough to expose the evil that is being done in our names? or do you take the view of Sarah Palin et al that he is a terrorist?

One things for sure, even if you've never read any of the material Wikileaks has put our way, you'll know that he's currently fighting extradition from the UK to Sweden to face trial for sex offences.

You could well have an opinion on these charges even if you couldn't care less about Wikileaks. Some take the view that these charges a just a little too convenient and that political pressure is behind them. Others that Mr Assange has previously shown scant regard for the law so perhaps he's guilty of this as well.

Well, whatever. Addressing conspiracy theories is a waste of time. If you believe that Mr Assange is the victim of a 'honey trap' as his lawyer Marc Stephens claims then not a lot is going to change your mind. Even if he is eventually found guilty there is still going to be a large number of people who believe this is all politically motivated.

The entrenched views of both sides have generally left me shrugging my shoulders and letting everyone get on with it. Yeah, yeah, I know. Not very responsible of me. Well, reading the Guardian's website has spurred me in to action.

An article by famed champion of feminism's third wave, Naomi Wolf, claims that accusers in rape cases should be named. That their anonymity in sex cases stems from a Victorian sense of victims being 'damaged goods' and that society doesn't see the victims like that any more. That anonymity is just the law treating women like children and that if you accuse someone of something you should do so publicly.

She then claims that having the accusers identity hidden encourages rape myths such as how rape victims look/dress. The flaw in that argument is so obvious it's almost difficult to put a finger on it.

If a victim of rape has nothing to fear from public opinion then why do myths like 'she was asking for it' persist? Why should someone who has already been through so much place themselves in a position to be defamed by the defence lawyers just so the rest of society can see justice served? Or even to be known by everyone as 'that girl who was raped by that guy' for the rest of her life?

Ms Wolf goes on to say that the accusers in the Assange case are particularly undeserving on anonymity because it is a high profile case. Mr Assange has had his private life gone over with a fine tooth comb and we now know far more about his life than is required or desired. He's a famous person. Does Ms Wolf believe that none of this would have come out without these accusations? Given the taste of the press they almost certainly would.

Mr Assange's accuses are not famous. At least I don't think they are. I've heard that some of Mr Assange's supporters have released their names, addresses and telephone numbers online so I guess if one was Ulrika Jonsson we would have heard about it.

Ms Wolf claims that: "Here, geopolitical state pressure, as well as the pressure of public attitudes about Assange, weigh unusually heavily."

The term 'geopolitical' is key here. Clearly Ms Wolf is in the camp that believes Mr Assange is the victim and the accusers are working for the US government. She couldn't care less that they might not want to be known as the women who were raped by Julian Assange for the rest of their lives. Or that they might not want every aspect of their private lives to be judged by a media half of which think Mr Assange is a saint. Mr Assange doesn't really have a choice in this. He's so famous now that everything about him is in the public domain. Should his accusers only have the choice of seeking justice or having their private lives become public property? Naomi Wolf seems to think so.

She also claims that there can be no fair trial for the accused when he is the victim of "media glare and an attack by the US government while his accusers remain hidden". Again the US government is brought up. Seeing as she is so keen to look at peoples motivation it is good of her to make her's so clear.

I have sat on the press benches during many sex offence cases and there is an argument to waive anonymity. The jury sees the accused in the dock looking like a nice young man in his suit. Wife sitting dutifully in the public gallery occasionally wiping a tear from her eye. How can they fail to sympathise with him more than the shoddy, improvised curtain hiding the alleged victim?

Anonymity for victims clearly is not perfect but it does not exist because of the law treating women as children it exists because without it far fewer people would come forward.

Without anonymity rape victims may well feel like they've been through enough and just try to get over it somehow. Justice is a public service. We should not discourage people from seeking it.

Oh and by the way. Comparing someone accused of rape with the 19th century persecution of homosexuals is unbelievably offensive.