Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Conservatives should withdraw the whip from Roger Helmer MEP

One of the great mysteries of our time is how Roger Helmer ever became a member of the European Parliament. Surely the Conservative Party is not that short of talent?

He is the sort of saloon bar bore who is convinced that his opinions, at once hackneyed and extreme, are mere "common sense" and are also held by all right-thinking Englishmen. It is typical of such a man that his blog should be called Roger Helmer MEP: Straight Talking.

In January Helmer tweeted:
Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to 'turn' a consenting homosexual?
When the inevitable row blew up Helmer replied: ""I am always surprised by the instant indignation of a strident minority."

You see, people who disagree with Helmer are inevitably part of a minority. Mind you, that minority turned out to include the Conservative Party, for whom a spokesman said: "We do not condone this sort of language."

Now he is at it again, making crass and offensive comments about rape on his blog. They were the talk of Twitter yesterday and are on the front page of today's Leicester Mercury.

Helmer was defending Kenneth Clarke's contention that there can be different degrees of seriousness in rape. So far, so reasonable - I defended that view to an extent myself.

But let's see what Helmer said.

He drew a contrast between two different rape scenarios of his own invention:
The first is the classic “stranger-rape”, where a masked individual emerges from the bushes, hits his victim over the head with a blunt instrument, drags her into the undergrowth and rapes her, and the leaves her unconscious, careless whether she lives or dies.

The second is “date rape”. Imagine that a woman voluntarily goes to her boyfriend’s apartment, voluntarily goes into the bedroom, voluntarily undresses and gets into bed, perhaps anticipating sex, or naïvely expecting merely a cuddle. But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says “Stop!”. The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on.

Anyway, Helmer would (inevitably) "be quite happy to hang the guy" in the first case but (inevitably) believes that "most right-thinking people" would expect a much lighter sentence in the second.

I expect they would, but Helmer the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on:
Let me make another point which will certainly get me vilified, but which I think is important to make: while in the first case, the blame is squarely on the perpetrator and does not attach to the victim, in the second case the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.
So women are sometimes partly to blame for being raped? This is an outrage.

The Mercury quotes a party spokesman as saying "This is not the view of the Conservative Party." And it quotes someone called Joseph Bono who claims to be "Mr Helmer's political adviser" (perhaps not the best post to have on a CV) as saying:
"Mr Helmer's intention was to make clear that all instances of rape are a violent crime which should be punishable to the fullest extent of the law. In no way did he want to blame the victim."
How could we ever have thought that Helmer wanted to blame the victim?

Perhaps it was where he wrote "in the second case the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility".

Helmer is entitled to hold whatever outrageous or ridiculous views he pleases, but there is no reason why the Conservative Party should continue to give him credibility. They should withdraw the whip and find someone halfway sensible to stand in his place in the East Midlands next time.

Of course, what really hurts is that he has an office in Market Harborough.


Anonymous said...

That is exactly what he wants, to leave office with the whip withdrawn to say - "look, I represent your views, and the Tories have taken the whip from me, don't you think we should move back to the right?" Don't give him the satisfaction...

Richard T said...

Perhaps he might be used as a prisoner exchange with UKIP now that the Conservatives have acquired Mr Bannerman from that party.

Anonymous said...

PLaying Devil's advocate - why is it wrong to say that, if you put yourself in a dangerous situation, you are not at least partly to blame if that danger manifests itself?
Would you walk about at midnight on your own in certain inner cities? No, because you know it is a high risk thing to do, Surely, it is a high risk thing to do to go into someone's bedroom, get undressed and into bed if you don't want to have sex.

If you put yourself in certain dangerous situations, you ARE partly to blame if that danger occurs.

Jonathan Calder said...

Anonymous 2: Nonsense. See my post David Cameron's bicycle and the demoralisation of society.

dreamingspire said...

It seems that the law has allowed two offences to merge into one: the act of rape and other actions such as the "hits his victim over the head with a blunt instrument, drags her into the undergrowth" which is a violent assault. And thus the judges have to add together the base punishment for rape and the punishment for the rest of the assault.

Anonymous said...

Oh well JOnathan, you have spoken so that's it, you are right and anyone with a differing view is simply wrong - yes, very liberal!

Of course the majority of the 'blame' for a crime falls to to the perpetrator BUT we all have common sense and if we allow common sense to fly out the window and put ourselves in a situation we know and understand to be dangerous or risky then we are IN SMALL PART to blame if that risk or danger manifests itself and we are hurt by it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, just think of it this way. Should I happen to live in an area where burglaries take place - it doesn't make me culpable in the crime!

The burglar has to take responsibility for his or her actions!