Harriet Harman has said that we should shift the focus to the users of prostitutes rather than the prostitutes themselves. This is a fair point, there would be no prostitution if there were no clients.
However there will always be clients, prostitution is known as the “oldest profession in the world” for a reason.
The elephant in the room is that a huge proportion of prostitutes are addicted to drugs. I don’t have figures but it would not surprise me if almost all street prostitutes were habitual drug users, indeed many prostitutes start out by swapping sex for a hit when they are low on money.
These women live incredibly dangerous lives, the Ipswich murders have hit the headlines but the number of unreported assaults must run into the hundreds of thousands each year. The driving force behind their continued life of prostitution is the need to fund a drug habit.
The young women who were murdered in Suffolk died because of their drug habit, it is as simple as that. Our current drugs policy has proven itself to be almost completely ineffective and the old adage that “madness is doing the same thing over and over and yet expecting a different result” rings true here.
Either Labour or we will have to be bold in our approach to the drugs issue and I genuinly think that only the Conservatives can take the steps necessary.
Because over and over again Labour have ducked the tough choices and thrown money at each and every problem that has come along. This is a deeply reactionary position. Don’t change, don’t innovate, don’t reform, just spend more money doing the same thing.
In no other part of our lives would this approach be acceptable. If you found out that your car’s gearbox was damaged would you be happy if the mechanic suggested that you “just put more petrol in the tank”?
Despite all their rhetoric Labour are not reformers. So much crime is driven by drugs, so much international terrorism is funded by drugs, so many lives are ruined and lost through drugs that we have to be willing to look at an effective way of dealing with it. And if the effective action sounds unpalatable to some or even most people then we should not be deflected from doing what we believe to be right.
There will be no simple answers or quick fixes. We have to tackle why people take drugs, the Conservatives have looked into this in great depth, Labour haven’t. We need to look at how we take money out of the drugs trade, remember drug dealing is not about drugs it is about money. And finally we have to look at why people produce drugs and what can we do to ween them off that production.
No small tasks those, but just because we have a mountain to climb should not mean that we shy away from taking the first steps.