Who would have thought that Ashley Lumsden, the disaster area that Lambeth Liberal Democrats call leader, would last night seek to deny his support for kerb-crawlers and instead call for licensed brothels in Lambeth in the same breath.
Lumsden apparently called for laws on kerb-crawling to be relaxed in 2004.
Councillor Mark Bennett, one of Labour’s councillors, asked on 28 February 2007:
“The minutes of the November 2004 Leaders’ meeting of the Association of Local Government record the following “Councillor Ashley Lumsden (Liberal Democrat, Lambeth) pointed out that there was a long history of prostitutes operating in Lambeth and argued that criminalising users should be removed from the recommendations.” Given that kerb crawling provides the demand which keeps vulnerable women on the streets, and feeds prostitution that blights so many communities, will Councillor Lumsden accept that he is wrong to back the de-criminalisation of kerbcrawling?
To which Lumsden gave a long rambling ‘not-me-guv’ response which included this telling line:
“I put forward the view that genuine help for working women and men would be hindered by blanket criminalisation.”
Oops. But Lumsden’s mention of men does not make clear whether he meant the kerb crawlers, rent boys or pimps.
I was sitting in the public gallery at last night’s full council when Cllr Donatus Anyanwu, another Labour councillor, asked Lumsden whether his party’s position in relation to kerb-crawling was to legalise it or to license brothels and whether his own position was in line with his party’s policy.
A quivering Lumsden gave a long, self-righteous sermon to the effect that he did not support legalising kerb crawling. (Remember, the Liberal Democrats turn round their policy positions like a weather vane.)
He then shot himself in the foot by saying, and I quote: “I am in support of the Lib Dem policy of licensing small brothels.”
So a cloud of mystery remains over Lumsden’s real views on kerb-crawling, though we now know he is keen to see brothels flourishing on every street corner.