An apple’s an apple. A spade’s a spade. And let’s agree that rape is rape shall we? No? It’s not? Well then, Justice Minister, Kenneth Clarke, you have confused me indeed; but not due to your statement, but why you would make it to begin with.
Whatever your stance on the comments Clarke recently made regarding rape sentences, which have seen the media up in arms and anti-rape campaigners demanding a meeting with the Prime Minister, I am sure we can all agree that Justice Minister Clarke should never have said what he did.
Playing devil’s advocate, one can understand the point Clarke was trying to make – and which he has since clarified to the media – that the circumstances of each case are different and so the lengths of sentences then depend on the individual case and the judge hearing it. However, misunderstanding or not, the fact remains that Clarke is a seasoned politician and should know better than to make a statement that was always going to create widespread controversy.
Having been in Parliament for over 40-years, Clarke would have given hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews, probably been media trained and been the recipient of constant PR counsel for over four decades. Why then did this undoubtedly adept politico make such a rookie mistake?
No doubt Clarke would be armed with a string of prepared and PR approved answers for tough questions on the most controversial topics, so did he just forget his composure and set answers? Or is Clarke getting complacent in his long-held role as one of the country’s best known politicians? Just like celebrities and footballers who admit infidelity and expect the public and their wives to still love them, do politicians suffer complacency after long holding office? If so perhaps Ed Miliband and the others calling for Clarke’s resignation are right.
However, if it was a genuine misunderstanding, should the public accept Clarke’s subsequent apology and give him another chance – after all, we all say dumb things but it wouldn’t necessarily cost Joe Blogs his job.
Or, perhaps Clarke just needs a new PR team or refresher course in how not to cause a media and public furore.
Whatever the reason for his comment, the media frenzy continues and it will be interesting to see if Clarke will be the latest in a long line to fall from a few small words.