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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 04:26 AM
Original message
The Dickensian approach to crime.

Let me start by establishing my position. I wouldn't describe myself as a Blairite, but I think Blair is usually underrated by the left - I think he doesn't get enough credit for raising spending on the public services or for civil unions or for the Bank of England, and that he didn't have any choice about whether or not Iraq was invaded.

However, his most recent speech has left me seriously wondering how this man came to be Prime Minister, and praying that he steps down sooner rather than later, preferably tomorrow. I quote:

"We are trying to fight 21st century crime - anti-social behaviour, binge drinking, organised crime - with 19th century methods, as if we still lived in the time of Dickens," he said. "The whole of our system starts from the proposition that its duty is to protect the innocent from being wrongly convicted."

"Don't misunderstand me. That must be the duty of any criminal justice system. But surely our primary duty should be to allow law-abiding people to live in safety. It means a complete change of thinking."

How can anyone, let alone a Prime Minister, come out in public and launch an attack on the presumption of innocence without being tarred and feathered?
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ikri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 05:02 AM
Response to Original message
1. Some crimes already did away with it
The disgusting RIP Act has a clause in it, put there apparently to prove that the government has no clue about technology. If you encrypt data on a computer and refuse to provide the decryption keys you are already guilty.

I'm not sure that there has yet been a prosecution based on that part of the Act since it should be easy to have it thrown out via the European Court of Human Rights but the clause is there - You are guilty of something unless you can prove that you aren't.

They added that part of the RIP Act when encryption technology reached a point that normal people had access to encryption technology that the government used (and more importantly, couldn't decrypt).

Blair knows that his authoritarian stance plays well to the Daily Mail reader, that's his audience. Don't be too surprised if his next crime policy consists of shipping people to Australia.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 05:30 AM
Response to Original message
2. Also see the excerpt from Charles Clarke's speech
I linked to in this other thread, where he says 'the public living in safety' is at least as important as a suspect's freedom from torture. Except, of course, he calls the suspect a terrorist (again, removing the presumption of guilt).
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rosesaylavee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 06:01 AM
Response to Original message
3. I know basically nothing about British Law except that
our law system was based upon it. And 'innocent until proven guilty' is at the very core of our US system...

And what Blair puts into words may very well be what * is thinking about doing as well.

What happened to Blair?

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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 06:40 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. He converted and became a True Believer ...
... of Mammon.
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Briar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
5. Just a word in defence of Dickens
who would probably have been way to the left of Bliar in his attitude to criminals.

He had a very low opinion of some lawyers, however. I doubt that Bliar would have surprised him.
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non sociopath skin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Although Dickens moved rightwards as he got older ...
Edited on Wed Sep-28-05 09:38 AM by non sociopath skin
... he was pretty progressive for his time. He was actually against the death penalty at one point (pretty wild stuff for an early Victorian!)although he modified it to just being against public executions.

Much of his (justifiable) hatred of the C19 legal system was that there was - literally, in some cases - one law for the rich and one for the poor. Two wealthy barristers at #10(or is it #11 still?)wouldn't have impressed him, though I suspect he'd have had more time for Cherie, whether because of her civil rights stuff or her interest in fortune-telling and the occult!

The Skin
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. No, no...

The "Dickensian system of justice" Blair was attacking *was* the presumption of innocence. I'm not sure what he thinks the presumption of innocence has to do with Dickens, but there you have it...
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
7. funnily, the same concern for different reasons
I find it absurd an approach to the majority cause of all crime in the
UK, the criminalization of drugs. So, within blair's options is the
total cure for crime long term, not in settling for the moral predations
of immature small hearted people.

I used to think blair had a great heart. I still think he does, but he
has walled himself off with his war buddies, and the nation is secretly
divided until he leaves. A war maker cannot be a peacemaker, and
britain so needs a peacemaker, someone who can make peace abroad and
in the war on drugs, and the war on the poor. I really think gordon
brown has the goods, and i pray for his succession. Under brown, britain
could easily rise to rank amongst the very most advanced civilizations
on earth, a city on a hill, in terms of its ability to make peace and
end wars long term, deweaponizing and lots of that good stuff that
seemed to die after princess diana. I miss the great heart of princess
diana... despite a lotta other trash, she was a saint and made all the
british people saints with her... and now they are dragged in to the
murk by a warmongers... its tragic.

Blair should leave. I've no time for him anymore. Blah blah blah,
whatever mr. blair... war, you have lost your seat at the table of
moral power Mister blair, and along with it the trust to lead.
There is no respect culture in corporate imperialism, and your
support of bush has been more damaging to the american people than
you can possibly imagine, totally contrary to your fantascist idea
that it was better to support bush in this warmongering. You have
brought terrorism in on the house of british people by your war,
and it is disgraceful. Your opposition can't say it. The newspapers
are afraid to say it, but the fact remains, you have incited
terrorism on british soil by a lie, and as much as you might
use spin to hide that dirty war of yours, it stinks through
the floorboards of your administration, and there can be no
respect culture in such a climate, yes?

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Kipling Donating Member (929 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 02:50 PM
Response to Original message
9. He wants harsher laws than Victorian times?
Edited on Wed Sep-28-05 02:53 PM by Kipling
Hanging people for stealing HALF a loaf of bread to feed to their starving toddler?
Back to trial by ordeal, perhaps?
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fedsron2us Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 04:00 PM
Response to Original message
10. Shame Blair is so ignorant he has never read Henry Mayhew
Otherwise he would know that anti-social behaviour, binge drinking and organised crime were all the rage in Dickensian Britain. Yet despite the enormous social problems that they faced the Victorians never felt the need to ditch the idea that an individual was innocent until judged guilty before by a jury of his peers. As usual Blair is showing his contempt for the better part of the British legal tradition.
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