PAGE TITLE: http://www.express.co.uk/home
ARTICLE TITLE: THE DEATH PENALTY SHOULD BE USED AT HOME AND ABROAD
AUTHOR: Leo McKinstry
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Leo McKinstry is a British journalist and author. Born in 1962 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, McKinstry graduated from Cambridge University. He writes regularly for several newspapers in the United Kingdom, including the Daily Mail, Daily Express, and The Sunday Telegraph. He often writes about issues relating to immigration. His books include a biography of the Victorian Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery. In the early 1990s McKinstry worked as a parliamentary aide to Labour politician Harriet Harman, later criticising what he described as her "dangerous gospel of feminist fascism". McKinstry is married and lives in Kent and Provence.
DATE: Wednesday 23 March 2011
THE DEATH PENALTY SHOULD BE USED AT HOME AND ABROAD
Wednesday March 23, 2011
BRIMMING with righteous zeal the Government proclaims that the war in Libya is a noble cause.
Britain and its allies are fighting to protect the innocent from brutal oppression, argue coalition ministers, adding that moral compassion requires us to challenge and overcome the despotism of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime. Yet there is a huge element of hypocrisy about all this humanitarian fervour. As the air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces intensify David Cameron and his colleagues portray themselves as warriors against vicious injustice abroad. But they show absolutely none of this bristling determination or clarity of purpose when dealing with criminals at home.
So noisily resolute against Gaddafi, they are pathetically limp in taking on murderers, thugs, terrorists, drug dealers and bullies who operate within British society. Institutional leniency, soft prisons and an enfeebled police force have become the hallmarks of our cowardly justice system, all backed up by the Human Rights Act, which has helped to turn our courts into a protection racket for the criminal classes while the innocent continue to suffer.
The hypocrisy is at its most glaring over the British state’s willingness to kill its enemies abroad, in contrast to its squeamishness over the death penalty at home. Last weekend Defence Secretary Liam Fox suggested that Gaddafi himself is “a legitimate target”. This stance was backed up not only by Foreign Secretary William Hague but also by the No 10 machine, which stated that Gaddafi could be taken out if he continues to orchestrate assaults on his own people.
But this prompts the question: if it is acceptable to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi because of his record then why on earth is it wrong to execute Ian Huntley, the cold-blooded murderer of two young girls in Soham? Effectively the Government is using the weapon of capital punishment abroad but denies the same tool of justice for the British people at home. If our politicians think it is morally right to kill genocidal maniacs and tyrants overseas then why do they not apply this logic to British mass murderers such as Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe or the monstrous Dennis Nilsen, who butchered at least 15 boys and young men in gruesome circumstances between 1978 and 1983?
David Cameron is on record as opposing the reintroduction of capital punishment yet sees no contradiction between this approach and his enthusiasm for bombing Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli. Like most members of our metropolitan political elite Cameron regards his opposition to the death penalty as a badge of his compassion. But now we are told that it is the same impulse for compassion that has led Cameron on his military mission in Libya. There is absolutely no logic or moral consistency here.
Air strikes are far more lethal than a single noose around the neck of a convicted murderer yet the former is celebrated as a modern instrument of humanitarianism and the latter derided as an outdated symbol of savagery. Even more than Cameron today, Tony Blair was the supreme champion of this double standard.
With typical moral superiority he condemned the death penalty as “barbaric”. Yet during the Yugoslav war, another supposedly humanitarian operation that began with a no-fly zone, he was quite happy for Allied bombers to launch a raid on the home of the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic near Belgrade.
Similarly, during the Iraq war, he endorsed the dropping of four 1,000 kilogramme bombs on a restaurant in which Saddam Hussein was dining, while he greeted the news that Saddam’s two sons had been killed in a gun battle with US forces as “a great day” and “very good news”. Blair would be outraged about using such upbeat language over the execution of any British killer.
Opponents of the death penalty always smugly declare that the state should never take a human life. In reality, whenever the British state is involved in any sort of military action, killing will happen on a scale far greater than anything that would occur through the reintroduction of capital punishment. During Blair’s Yugoslav mission NATO air forces accidently bombed a convoy carrying Kosovan refugees. At least 70 innocent civilians were killed in the process.
Equally wrong-headed is the fashionable idea that the death penalty is unusually cruel. What is truly cruel is the ideological refusal to protect society by making murderers pay the ultimate price for their crimes. Far from being “barbaric”, to use Blair’s phrase, the death penalty is actually driven by respect for the sanctity of innocent life. By downgrading the punishment for murder from execution to a prison sentence usually no longer than 12 years the state is signalling that it places only limited value on human life.
It is little wonder that since the abolition of the death penalty in 1965 Britain has become a more violent, less well-ordered place. Overall crime has shot up tenfold, while the murder rate has quadrupled. So much of the Government’s international posturing arises from our politicians’ desire to feel self-important. They seek adulation as the world’s policemen but if they really want to fight criminality and oppression they should concentrate more of their efforts on protecting the British public. Moral courage, like charity, should begin at home.