THE problem with politicians is they do not live in the real world but rather above it, like socially inept gods playing dice with our fate.
They see a chambermaid and think she's fair game; they get speeding points and think they're not a danger on the roads; they wonder whether to cut rape sentences as a way of getting the conviction rate up.
So far this week, thanks in large part to the tabloid press which Hugh Grant thinks we don't need and is "out-of-control", they have been taught that it is not a good idea to treat either chambermaids or ex-wives badly. Yes, Hugh, rich and famous men are "naughty by nature" but when these are the allegations made against them they should be screamed from the rooftops so the millions of people who buy newspapers can hear it.
And with a career in which I have spent far too long listening to the gory details of rape cases - drunk girls who didn't know what was going on, startled men accused of assault the next day, sexual predators drugging drinks in bars and parents holding down their own children so they can be attacked by strangers - I have to say yes, the rate of rape conviction, at six per cent of complaints made, is too damn low.
So our esteemed Justice Secretary Ken Clarke - a barrister once, many years ago - decided the best way to win votes would be to HALVE rape sentences, along with those for burglary and robbery, if the alleged rapist confesses early and so saves their victim the trauma of a trial.
Except the reason the rape conviction rate is low is not because victims don't want to go to trial. It's because if they do they will have their reputation traduced by a barrister like Ken, who will imply that because of their clothes, their behaviour, or lack of common sense they were inviting rape. It is the attitude of the 12th century, it is the attitude of strict Shariah law, and it's utterly damn disgusting.
If you want to get the rape conviction rate up, set out new guidelines in which the behaviour and sexual history of the victim cannot be used in court. I don't care if she slept with a million men, was drunk as a skunk and wore nowt but a thong - no-one deserves to be abused. Ever. Bring in anonymity for the accused until they are convicted, and you will remove the sympathy I've seen a thousand juries feel towards the man in the dock who says he thought she was willing and his is the life that's been ruined.
And if Ken Clarke wants to win back the millions of votes he's just pissed up the wall he should get himself down to one of the crown courts he's so keen to close and listen for a day. Alternatively, he should be locked in a room with a rapist and, when he gets out, see how he feels about someone insisting he was asking for it.
What's next? Free the paedos?