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I was reminded by this that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Apparently, the opening of the beautiful Öresund bridge linking Denmark and Sweden has seen an increase in traffic by a particular type of man from Sweden (where paying a prostitute is illegal) to Denmark (where prostitution is tolerated).

Now Sweden has a fair few things to be sorry about: Ulrika Johnson and flat-pack furniture are but two imports we could do without. However, their attitude towards prostitution, which requires the operation of a Stasi-like surveillance network, belies a worryingly authoritarian mindset. Unsurprisingly, Harriet Harman, also known to have a penchant for social authoritarianism, has backed the introduction of Swedish-style laws here in the UK.

Before I carry on, there are of course some important points to acknowledge:

1. Many women are on the streets to fund a drug habit- this habit has often been encouraged by a pimp as a further means of control.

2. There is a link between human trafficking and prostitution- many brothels are directly linked to the trafficking of women.

3. There is a link between prostitution and violence against women- many working girls are raped/assaulted.

Even with these points in mind I would argue that prohibition is not working and can never work. We need to create a system that is better than the mess we currently have. Firstly, we must recognise that in criminalising prostitution we have only pushed it underground and into the hands of some very unsavoury characters. Therefore I’d argue that there needs to be a measure of legalisation with regulation and regular health checks for sex-workers. If two consenting adults wish to exchange money in return for sex, that is their affair (the principle of consent is paramount here: the girl mustn’t be working under duress). Importantly, by legalising prostitution, we can free up resources to tackle organised crime, violence against women, and human trafficking.

Secondly (and crucially) this all needs to be joined up with other parts of policy. There has to be a more sensible attitude to drugs and better support available for people with serious substance abuse problems: locking up drug addicts doesn’t help anyone and it should be clear that part of the health-check for sex workers carries a proviso that a drug addiction is a disqualification. There also needs to be better general provision of support for women who are victims of violence: this means more in terms of social services and more safe houses.

I’m not saying that any of this is the perfect answer. However, the way we deal with prostitution exposes broader problems in our approach to drugs and violence: in all of these areas our attitudes need to change.

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As well as being the 60th Anniversary of the NHS this year, it’s also 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human Rights are as important now as they ever were: in an era of detention without trial, rendition to face torture, and restricted rights to asylum, it is equally important that they are defended.

“…every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

-Preamble, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Words fail me. The Home Office wants to create a database of every phone call and email sent in the UK. I mean, what is there for critics to be worried about? After all, the government obviously has such rigorous provisions in place when it comes to handling personal data.

Anyway, I don’t know where to begin with this. I’ll put my hand up and declare myself a massive civil libertarian before we proceed: liberty is one of the founding concepts in my approach to politics. Perhaps that bias makes me unsuitable to comment on the merits of cataloguing the communications of every citizen. Even so, who came up with this idea? Given that 42 days is such a joke of a policy that will probably be treated as a confidence vote (and will probably be lost), who decided that what we need right now is yet more authoritarian legislation?

Companies want to create a black-list of ‘bad-eggs’ so that they can confer between them over who is unemployable. One thing I’m interested in (if any lawyers out there can answer) is where this sits with data protection laws?