Are Tories trying to kill the Libdem Freedom Bill?

10:18 am - January 11th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    

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The Daily Mail splashes today with a horrified headline: Lower the age of consent to just FOURTEEN, say civil servants… and let’s make nudity on the streets legal too.

Omg, time to panic!!

The context is this: these are proposals supposedly being considered for a ‘Freedom Bill’, which the Libdems are anxious to push over the next two years.

Reading the story it struck me that this looks like an attempt by some Tories to negatively define the Freedom Bill in advance and get it kicked into the long grass.

The quote offered to the Daily Mail clinches it:

But one Tory source said the Prime Minister had been ‘appalled’ to discover that lowering the age of consent had ever been considered.

‘The Liberal Democrats are leading on this Bill and people were in shock. With everything that’s going on with Jimmy Savile, you don’t need more than two brain cells to realise how toxic this is,’ the source said.

‘There is some sensible stuff in the Bill, such as making it easier to get permission for street parties and other public events. How these other ideas even came to be put down on paper is beyond comprehension. They are bonkers and we insisted they were abandoned.’

Lib Dem sources insisted it was ‘categorically untrue’ that the party had ‘in any way been pushing the idea on sexual consent’.

But if the idea had already been abandoned (for clarity: I’m not in favour of lowering the age of consent either) – why is it being briefed to the Daily Mail?

Looks to me like someone wants to strangle the bill at birth.

PS: yes to easier street-parties and raves please.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Civil liberties ,News

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Reader comments

As far as lowering the age of consent to 14 goes, this is what charities and other services that focus on troubled/disadvantaged Children and teens have been privately recommending for a while now. Publically they’ve kept their trap shut, for obvious reasons. They’re of the opinion that the problems caused by underage, often ignorant of the consequences, sexually active teens outweighs the danger of consensual sexual relations between a 15 year old and 50 year old being perfectly legal and above board.
With that said I remain unconvinced that the problem isn’t more of a need to just educate earlier and provide services earlier, rather than lowering the age of consent to thus force those earlier as a necessity.

But one Tory source said the Prime Minister had been ‘appalled’ to discover that lowering the age of consent had ever been considered.

The idea of lowering – or even abolishing – the age of consent used to be a pretty mainstream progressive cause. Those who favoured abolition or lowering the age of consent included Labour MP Colin Phipps, Patricia Hewitt (then of the National Council of Civil Liberties) and Father Michael Ingram, a child psychologist as well as a Catholic Priest. Tom O’Carroll, a prominent member of the Paedophile Information Exchange was a press liaison officer for the Open University.

It was far right associations like the National Front who used to protest when the PIE held public meetings; it was Thatcher, Cyril Townsend and Mary Whitehouse who were responsible for the Child Protection Act 1978.

Actually, why can’t we do what other sensible countries do?

Age of consent is 14 if you’re within two years of each other and 16, 17 or 18 for the general age of consent.

@3 Because we’re not a sensible country.

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