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14 Aug 2011

Swinging In The Wind

Health & Safety - For Demonstration Purposes Only.
Do Not Try This At Home.

So, the Daily Mail/Daily Telegraph mind-set have mobilised the 'hang 'em, flog 'em. send 'em home' Brigade to sign their pointless petition regarding state murder.  It's surprising that they have found the time to stop whining about immigrants/the EU/asylum seekers/single parents/Muslims/unions/teenagers/BBC/looters/rioters/hoodies/anti-bloodsports/gay marriages* (*delete as applicable)  to - in their otherwise busy but seemingly pointless lives, squeeze in the 30 seconds or so required to sign the petition demanding the return of their favourite laughable cassus belli - hanging people.

The petition can be seen here  for any of you that didn't know about it and are dim enough to think signing it will achieve anything other than 30 minutes of Parliamentary tediousness at 11pm on a wednesday night when no politician cares and - more tellingly, most of the people who signed won't bother their arses to even watch on the BBC Parliament Channel.

The history of e-petitions suggests that the initial few weeks are when it attracts the most attention and the interest rapidly wanes as more important things - such as Steve & Becky's tangled love-life on Coronation Street,  rise more to the fore of public consciousness.  In this particular instance those 'old dependables' the Mail, Telegraph & Express carried prominent stories about it along with weblink details and an active URL on their own websites. Peter Hitchens (rather predictably) wrote a mouth-frothing eye-bulging demand for the return of the rope.  The populist Sun & Star likewise ran prominent articles with web details.   Every other newspaper also carried stories about it . It was mentioned on all the main news programmes,  crusty old tory right wingers wheeled out on Sky News, the URL was virally tweeted and was even doing the rounds on facebook.  It was discussed on Mums Net where - surprisingly, the abolitionists held the day.    As of the time of writing it has amassed around 14,500 signatures and has 5 months left to get the other 85,500 it needs to be even considered for a dreary wednesday night.  However in true 'British Farce' tradition it is competing against two other petitions for the same thing - here (with 3,000 signees)  and here (with 2,500)  although in all probability a lot of people will have signed more than one of them.   Interestingly there is a petition to retain the abolition here which has amassed more than 22,000.

But let's assume that it gets the magic 100,000 signees. What happens then?  Well the Government considers whether it is worthy of any Parliamentary time and if they consider it so they will allocate it a slot in 'Other Parliamentary Buisness' and provided more important issues of the day don't over run then it will get a bit of floor time where the MPs (those that bother attending) will discuss the merits or otherwise of restoration.   If it then clears that hurdle the due process of Parliamentary Procedure takes over and the system of Papers, Bills, Committees, Amendments etc commences.   Should it clear all that it then goes to the vote.  Lib Dem, Labour, SNP and Plaid are all virtually guarenteed to vote 'No' along with a significant chunk of the Tories and it will fail (if it ever got that far) but for the sake of argument we'll say it passes.  Capital Punishment is restored to the statute books.

Except that it won't be.  We are members of the EU and signatories to the ECHR.  To actually hang anyone we would have to leave both.   It also brings in a host of other problems.  For instance other members of the EU and ECHR would be legally obliged not to extradite wanted people back to us unless we guarenteed not to hang them.  In addition Scotland has it's own law-making system.  Supposing England & Wales restored it and Scotland didn't? It could further precipitate the break-up of the UK.  People wanted for murder would only need to make Scotland, France or Ireland to be safe from being hanged.

Conspiracy theorists could even suggest that in actual fact this is a UKIP 'trick' to attract the pro-hanging to their fold by implanting in people's minds that only they or the unacceptable BNP have the restoration of Capital Punishment as a policy.  (That alone speaks volumes).

There's also a problem getting convictions.  In the final few years of hanging the Courts were becoming increasingly frustrated because juries were not bringing back unanimous verdicts in murder cases because people opposed to hanging would vote Not Guilty in the privacy of the Jury Room.  As a result murderers who should have hanged didn't and some were only found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter because enough jurors voted Not Guilty to stop a murder conviction in it's tracks.

Then there's always the minor technical problem that an innocent person gets hanged.

And the view of an 'expert'?  Albert Pierrepoint was the last large-scale hangman in the UK resigning the post in 1956 over a matter of conscience.  He hanged more people than any other documented British executioner - a reputed figure of over 680 - and said in 1974 "I have come to the conclusion that executions solve nothing, and are only an antiquated relic of a primitive desire for revenge which takes the easy way and hands over the responsibility for revenge to other people.".  Pierrepoint believed hanging failed in it's primary task as a deterrent,  because virtually everyone he hanged killed in the heat of the moment.

Me?  I'm opposed 100%. There are far more important things for Parliament to be discussing than something that is pointless and within the judicial world personally I believe the most important thing that is wrong with our system is disclosure (or to be more precise - lack of it).  The Police should release to the defence all evidence collected - not just the bits they are using to build their case.

Jimmy Page/Robert Plant - Gallows Pole

As an afternote,  this is a pretty good summary. (added at 21.25)


Cai said...

Nothing more than a mindless,Knee jerk, Sunreader solution that is both simplistic and doesn't work as a deterrent. But that wont stop this bunch of tea-party wannabe's from trying.
The big problem with the concept of an eye for an eye is that you just end up with a society full of blind people. The quicker this odious right wing idea is consigned to the dustbin of history the better. Just a real shame we are having to discuss it in the first place,

Anonymous said...

I'd vote no to hanging as well but I certainly don't feel morally superior to those who'd vote yes.

A pro-hanging MP once said in Parliament that he would willingly be the hangman. Ted Heath asked would he willingly be the innocent man hanged by mistake? Good question.

But there's another good question... would you willingly be the person murdered by a released murderer or would you be willing for someone close to you to be murdered by a released murderer?

Getting on for a 100 people have been murdered in the UK by released murderers since abolition.

A right-wing thing? I wouldn't have thought so, Cuba for example still has the death penalty as have many other left-wing states.

Anonymous said...

I should have said "as have many left-wing states in the recent past.

As to full disclosure, again correct in principle but in reality ... would you be happy for full disclosure if you were a witness in a case involving, say, the Adams Family?

The Red Flag said...

Anon 14 Aug 1839 - It is very much a left wing/right wing thing in the UK (which is what this is about). The abolition of Capital Punishment was one of the founding principles of the Labour Party and the gradual moves towards it - which took decades - were mostly introduced under Labour Governments.

Robert said...

Yes but I suspect to day labour as a socialist party has died, these days it what the opinion polls says that drives Labour.

I had to sit and listen to Cameron and Miliband today, MIliband telling us about walking to school down the same road as the rioters. When he lived in a council house.

Then I remember what Labour stated when Ms Flint was in charge of housing, if they have no jobs then fling them out of council houses, same as the Tories today.

I just think socialism within Labour is dead take the front bench of the Tories and the front bech of labour mix them up you have a load of very rich millionaires