Thursday, May 26, 2005

DD on the Death Penalty

Quite a few people looking at DD are asking about his reported views on the death penalty.

First, what did he actually say?

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph just after his appointment as Shadow Home Secretary in November 2003, he said:

"I would bring back capital punishment for serial murderers. I think under these circumstances, the intention is there. It is not a crime of passion, it is clearly pre-meditated and cold blooded.

That does not include the Soham murders which were committed at the same time. But it would include cases such as the Yorkshire Ripper and the Moors Murders.

It shows a degree of evil by the perpetrator. People are against the death penalty very often because of the risk of getting it wrong. With serial murders, that is unlikely to happen.

He said he favoured the most humane method of execution available, such as lethal injection, rather than hanging.

But "I am under no illusions. I do not foresee any future government, Labour or Tory, reintroducing capital punishment because it is always going to be an issue for a free vote and very few people will support it. I am not going to say I will deliver that, because I never can.

But that is a reflection on my view on the morality of justice."

Note that this is all very measured and he's arguing for pretty limited restoration on moral grounds. It's a more limited version of Mrs T's pro-restoration position.

Contrast that with the way much of the liberal media, like the BBC, reported it. They were clearly aghast, sprinkling their coverage with hysterical headlines like 'obscene'. Or take a look at the supercilious way the 'usual suspects' politicos, such as Labour MP Stephen Pound, responded to it.

What are we to make of it really?

Well, we know that even forty years after abolition, capital punishment is still a hot subject. Most of us have strongly held views which are not always susceptible to rational argument. Personally, I'm in favour of limited restoration, largely because I believe it was a deterrent. Can I prove it beyond doubt? No. But the homicide rate, having been in longterm decline for a hundred years up to abolition, has tripled since.

Others are in favour of restoration for a host of other reasons (there's a good summary of broader pro arguments at Blimpish).

But many are equally strongly against, usually for strong moral reasons. And ultimately, who's to say it's wrong to accept a higher homicide rate in order that to end judicial killing?

However what we can say is that public opinion has remained solidly in favour of restoring capital punishment. The Telegraph ICM poll that accompanied the DD interview showed 62 per cent in favour, consistent with most other polls that have regularly shown 60-70 per cent.

So DD is in line with the bulk of the population on this.

The trouble is he's out of line with that ruling metropolitan liberal elite. And they're the ones who seem to have the controls.

Which of course is one more reason why we think DD is our man.


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