This is our truth, tell us yours
I am, as many of you know, a life long labour voter. Or rather I was. As I write here I left the party when the party line seemed to be punish the poor, the disabled, the migrant, anything to win Daily Mail approval. I put this by way of introduction since no doubt there will be claims this is a party political post. I wept tears of joy when Blair won in 97 and now am close to tears of despair at what has happened to the party I once loved.
Which brings me Richard Wilson, no not that one, not the respected actor and Labour activist, but the prospective Labour MP for Guildford. A recent blog post by him took issue with being asked his opinion on the decriminalization of sex work. He was so shocked to be asked what he thought he apparently passed a constituent’s letter to the press, and then expressed his feelings on his blog. I think, as someone standing for parliament it is worth examining closely his response.
One of the great things about being a parliamentary candidate is receiving emails from constituents lobbying me on all sorts of interesting topics. I have had thousands of emails on scores of subjects, sometimes hundreds in a single day. I was surprised to receive one demanding that I support the legalisation of prostitution as a condition of someone voting for me.This is the first one I have received on this subject. I was doubly surprised when I recognised the sender’s name as a Lib Dem council candidate.
Really Richard, if you want to make laws, it would be helpful if you knew what the law was in the UK. It would be impossible for someone to “demand” you support the legalization of sex work, since sex work is legal in the UK. What you received was a form letter organised by the ECP, to be sent to all candidates. I have sent them myself. I urge everyone too. It asks the prospective candidates where they stand on the decriminalization of sex work, and provides a few helpful links. Its almost as if you didn’t read the letter or the links Richard, surely that cannot be the case?
But that “demand” is that how you see all your constituents concerns? If a constituent wrote to you concerned about the impact of TTIP on the NHS would you frame it as a demand? How do you plan to run constituency surgeries? Will you refuse to listen to the “demands” of your constituents?
To move on, I have a suspicion that the issue here for you is sex work, oh and just so you know, prostitution is considered a loaded and pejorative term, which is no doubt why it is used repeatedly in your blog.
Now Richard, are you sure you are cut out for politics? I ask because you seem surprised that people have opinions. You seem even more surprised they want to know your opinion, and, you reach the apex of surprise at the fact a lib dem council candidate supports, and advocates for lib dem policy. However,I said I was moving on;
It is clear from the email that George feels very strongly about legalising prostitution and wouldn’t consider voting for anyone who doesn’t share his opinion.
The only thing the email makes clear is that George (I assume we are all on first name terms here, but no, you can’t call me Jem) knows that sex work is legal in the UK, and therefore doesn’t need to be legalised. Legal and illegal, important concepts for an for an MP to understand, wouldn’t you agree Richard?
However, it appears that he is the only person in Guildford who feels so strongly about it. I hope that voters in Onslow ward will be made aware of his priorities before the election so that they can choose whether or not to support his call for legalising prostitution in Guildford on 7 May.
Now I dont know quite how you concluded there is only one person with an interest in the decriminalization of sex work in Guilford. Adult Work tells me there are 16 sex workers available today in Guildford, and 1740 who register as working from Surrey. Or do you assume we dont vote Richard? Do you assume sex workers couldn’t possibly be the woman you just canvassed or the man you just gave a leaflet too? In you attempt to smear someone did you never think that some of your constituents will be sex workers? ( Don’t worry, you can wash your hands after meeting us, assuming you spot the scarlet letter in time). Others will be the partners of sex workers, the mothers and fathers of sex workers. Some like George will simply be people who dont think that someones job means they should be excluded from the democratic process.
Should I mention the fact no one is calling for the legalisation of prostitution or do you think I have hammered that home quite enough? Ok then, lets move on.
I have to admit that I was slightly suspicious that this was some sort of game-playing by the Lib Dems
Game playing such as writing a blog to misrepresent and smear a young political activist? Wonder why the idea it must be a game rather than a deeply held conviction came to mind so readily Richard?
if elected I will represent everyone in my constituency fairly and equally. I can assure George that tackling violence against women and girls is a priority for me and for the Labour Party. A Labour government after 7 May will publish the country’s first ever Violence Against Women and Girls Bill, establish a Commissioner on domestic and sexual violence and protect women’s refuges. If elected to be Guildford’s next MP then I will vote to support all of these measures.
But Richard you have already said you dont believe their are any sex workers in your constituency, so thats one group you wont be representing fairly or equally.
This bit is very worrying, especially for the many sex workers and their supporters who are unsure how to vote on May 7th.The dog whistle equation of sex work and violence against women suggests you have been well trained by those who want to criminalise sex work.
Is this why you refused to give your opinion on decriminalization Richard? Do you stand with those ideological extremists who believe consenting sex between adults should be criminalized if money exchanges hands? The language of violence against women is their language. Did you support the move of Fiona Mactaggart to criminalise sex work, tagging it onto the Modern Slavery Bill against the wishes, and advice of sex workers, the Lancet, the police, the WHO, UNAIDS and even the WI? I think Richard, voters need to know if you will be generally ignoring experts on issues when you vote.
If George is genuinely interested in protecting vulnerable women and girls from violence then I hope he will decide to vote for me to be his next MP.
Oh, the burn of that genuinely. Almost as if you cannot believe a man can care about sex workers. Of course this is an attitude any man who has the guts to speak out about sex workers rights encounters. I have seen the attacks Carter faces just because he believes I should have safe working conditions and bodily autonomy.
If he is serious about becoming a councillor then he needs to understand what the priorities of the people of Guildford really are.
Hang on, I thought George was a constituent, one who said this was one of his priorities?. I am confused Richard, are you saying you will only listen to the concerns of constituents if they agree with you? Or is it only labour party members concerns you will listen too? What about the sex workers in your constituency? Oh yes, I forgot, we dont exist, or dont count, or are illegal and hide under mushrooms, which is it exactly Richard?
I spent yesterday going door-to-door in Onslow ward and I think voters would be horrified by the prospect of councillors encouraging prostitution in their neighbourhood.
There is low, there is nasty, then there is downright malicious. This covers all three. It sickens me to think that someone is standing as a prospective parliamentary candidate who can use the argument for sex workers rights to claim it will “encourage prostitution in their neighbourhood” Quite how removing laws that ban sex workers working together for protection, which make us homeless, which prosecute our partners, which discourage us from reporting rapes, which make us more vulnerable, encourages prostitution escapes me. Presumably Richard you believe making us less safe is the way to “discourage prostitution”. Will you be promising your constituents one dead hooker a week in order to ensure their streets remain sex worker free?
Many people are unsure how to vote in the upcoming elections, each one of us must decide according to our own conscience where we make that tick on May 7th. I know if I lived in Guilford I could never vote for someone who wrote this vile, underhand, deceitful and prejudiced blog. If this is how Richard Wilson behaves without power, God help the people of Guilford should he ever get any.