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Thursday, April 10, 2008 

Who's using whom?

I would be the one who puts the noose around the neck or presses the button for the lethal injection. And hangings should be public. People have stopped me and said they’re 100 per cent behind it.

This country is a terrifying place. No one is safe. I’m not ranting and raving. Come and sit here with us three and have the pain we’ve got. -- Probably not what Newlove said today, but what she has previously stated to the Sun.

The widow of Garry Newlove, the father of three who was murdered by a gang of drunken youths in front of his family, has agreed to help David Cameron draw up policies to strengthen families and tackle anti-social behaviour.

Helen Newlove will today appear at a Conservative Party summit to discuss ways of building more "responsible" communities and toughening Britain's criminal justice system.

Agreed to help dear old Dave draw up policies? Surely Cameron already knows what Newlove's demands are? After all, both he and Jack Straw met Newlove with the other "mothers in arms" to discuss how to solve "Broken Britain". Their 10 point plan was/is:

1 - Reintroduce the death penalty
2 - Set up compulsory DNA database

3 - Zero tolerance for minor crimes
4 - Repeal the Human Rights Act

5 - More bobbies on (blank) (presumably the beat?)
6 - Make parents responsible for their kids and restore discipline at home
7 - Victims' family's rights to be put above those of offenders with an end to ludicrous defences
8 - Juveniles to be named in court like adults

9 - Reserve plans to turn off street lights to save energy

10 - A crackdown on binge drinking

Some of these are already Conservative policy, with Cameron pledging to repeal the HRA and replace it with a "British" bill of rights, regardless of the fact that all that would mean in practise is that we'd have two tiers of law, with individuals still able to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights if their case was rejected under the "British" bill, just that it'd take hell of a lot longer than it current does. As much as a distinct minority in the Conservatives would like to reinstate the death penalty, that's something that simply isn't going to happen, and it'd be a major surprise if they suddenly decided after moving towards a more libertarian stance on civil liberties that a "compulsory" DNA database was a good idea. David Davis has talked of "zero tolerance" on occasion, but whether they would make it an actual policy or implement it when most of the police themselves despair of such a change, as they do of putting "more officers on the beat", which is about as blunt an instrument as you can use against crime, is also far from clear.

Quite how any government could force parents to "restore discipline" at home is an open question, and similarly daft is the idea that you can somehow exclude some legal defences because they're "ludicrous"; the answer to that is to impose harsher sentences for wasting the court's time and money when guilt is obvious. Courts already have the power to name juveniles if the judge decides that the crime is suitably heinous and that an example needs to be made, and the Conservatives have already announced that they would raise taxes on strong lagers and the so-called alcopops, something which hasn't been condemned with the same venom as Darling's across the board raising of duty in the budget even if it would have the same next to negligible effect.

The question then has to be exactly who is helping or using whom. Most of Newlove's demands are anathema even to the traditional hanging 'n' flogging party, and would move the country even further into the realm of authoritarianism. If Cameron is then cynically using a grieving widow when he has no intention of implementing her ideas, then even by his and the new Tory party's standards that's scraping the bottom of the public relations barrel. If Newlove is using Cameron however to panic Labour into coming down ever tougher on crime, something that it's more than happy to do at the proverbial dropping of a hat, then that's not much more devious. That Newlove's claim that the trial involving her husband's murderers was a "circus", where the defendants had the "human rights" (showing that despite her previously working in a court environment that she has no idea what human rights actually are outside a tabloid definition) on their side could not be less credible considering their conviction and sentencing suggests that despite the state bending over backwards to help her and all the sympathy she's quite rightly received, she has no interest whatsoever in compromise or rational debate. In time Newlove will like the other grieving mothers who demand change be forgotten, but for now those with their own agendas, even if more subtle than hers, are more than happy to associate with her and gain the short-lived kudos. Until then, it will remain difficult to comprehend just who is using whom.

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I thought she'd had her vents and gone quiet. And yet here she is. Joy.

My view on the who's using who.

If Cameron is using Newlove then:
a) if he plans to implement her ideas he's an idiot. As you said she's not bothered about rational debate or sensible solutions, she just wants to inflict pain on criminals so she can feel better. The fear of pain won't bother them. If someone has the intention and mental ability to kill, they're not gonna be worried about some punishment.
b) if he doesn't plan to use her ideas then quite frankly he's an asshole for using her to boost his image
Whichever it is I think he's made a mistake here.

If Newlove is using Cameron, either because she thinks the Tories have a chance or because she wants to get at labour (or perhaps because she just wants more sympathy) then she's just sneaky.

I have sympathy for her loss but her tactics are starting to piss me off. As stated in one of your previous blog posts, who dare refuse her for fear of getting called "uncaring", or "not living in the real world"

I haven't done law, or poltics, I base the following on (it seems ironically) common sense:

Anyone who thinks the death penalty and zero tolerance is an effective way of dealing with crime is delusional.

I watched a video on youtube a while back, sadly can't find it again now.
I think it's Sweden or one of the surrounding countries has literally open prisons where prisoners are put in an open prison and guided back to work. If people think our cells are sent from Heaven they should see theirs. And yet they have one of the lowest reoffender rates in the world.
Then you look at the USA with it's death penalty, and as we all know it's a crime free haven over there.

Perhaps we are too soft on crime, but a blanket kill em/bang em up for ever is as bizarre an idea as not punishing them at all.

As an aside, the Mail likes to tout that motorists are unfairly targeted. I would class that as "zero tolerance" and yet mail readers whine like shit about it... whilst at the same time agreeing we're too soft on crime.
Between our press, politics and the population, MPs don't half have a tough time.

I can't say there's anything you've said there that I disagree with.

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