Staggering news this week: the University of Leeds are advertising for a researcher, on £31,000 salary paid for by you and I, to look into lap dancing. To travel the length of the country, valiantly talking to every lap dancer they can find, and then produce a report, telling us why these girls are lap dancing, and if they're being exploited.
Taxpayers in Leeds have understandably questioned the need for this post, many of them will be facing cuts in public services in the coming years, and think there is a plethora of better things for the money to be spent on. We agree, and have said so in the press. And Leeds University have form on wasting precious time and money: they have previously put a lot of energy into finding out the right way to both grill bacon and make a cup of tea...
It is not that lap dancers don't need protection, of course they do. And there are many fine organisations (both taxpayer and non taxpayer funded) that fight for their rights, monitor their health and well-being and research what brought them to their chosen profession. Indeed, if the University of Leeds wanted to carry out this research from private funds, that too would be their affair. But additional research, and creating a new post just for this end, will achieve nothing but to anger and bemuse the public in equal measure.
It's true that some people see lap dancing as exploitative, and will never set foot in a lap dancing club - that's their right. Lap dancing is legal though, and they must except that it exists and will continue to flourish for as long as it proves highly profitable employment for young ladies. Unlike human trafficking which is deadly, illegal and a much under researched blight on our society.
Bottom line is that this post is not a spending priority right now, and it will make no concrete difference. You may find it amusing, you may find it aggravating, you may not care that your cash is getting spent in this way. But while this might sound like a dream job for some lucky young man (or woman), it is just another nightmare of public sector waste for many taxpayers.