Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Death Penalty

There is a parallel between the 1965 vote on the abolition of the death penalty and the 2013 vote on same sex marriage. 

The vote on same-sex marriage went 366 in favour to 161 against. That is, approximately two thirds of the House supported the government. The larger part of the one-third opposition was not the Opposition at all; it was the government's own party.  In a free vote, the government only got its bill through by doing deals with the party which it nominally opposes.
 In 1965 the Labour MP Sydney Silverman, who had committed himself to the cause of abolition for more than 20 years, introduced a private member's bill to suspend the death penalty, which was passed on a free vote in the House of Commons by 200 votes to 98. The bill was subsequently passed by the House of Lords by 204 votes to 104.
Source: wiki, which goes on to detail the exclusions and parliamentary technique used to present abolition as suspension.  The split, again, was a two-thirds for change, one-third for the status quo.  Note also in subsequent developments that there was a deadline; the abolition had to be enacted in English law before a European-set deadline. If it had not been done then the authority of European law would have become much more visible to the voting public.  As with same sex marriage, the impetus is not from within Britain but to disguise the fact that the real power comes from outside it. 

Despite the parliamentary feeling that the argument about the death penalty is done and dusted, no politician would dare put the matter before the public.  The public is much less convinced that there is any point in keeping Ian Huntley breathing, and it is about to ask the same question of David McGreavy who has failed in his bid for anonymity.  Despite what some people claim, the law does not lead public opinion as much as they would like, nor is it clear that we get good law when it tries to do so.

English law jumps before it is pushed in order to disguise that hand of the pusher.


Dr Evil said...

The Council of Europe is pushing gay marriage and it set a summer deadline. This was the reason the french rushed it through too. So why can't they be told to erm 'sod off'? No pune intended.

DtP said...

I guess it's what makes good law? Hadn't realised that the death act was so cowardly fudged. 120 or so of the cottaging paedos couldn't be bothered to, you know, vote. To the Lords post haste!

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX English law jumps before it is pushed in order to disguise that hand of the pusher. XX

THAT, I like!

Furor Teutonicus said...

Is that yours? or a quote? Because I would LOVE to use it as a "signature", and need to give due accreditation.

Woman on a Raft said...

I don't know if it is original, FT - I probably read it somewhere else but I have no memory of it. Use it is you wish, an attribution is not necessary - I'm pretty sure I don't own that thought as it is just washing about.

call me ishmael said...

Neither those agitating for a return to the rope nor their poll results are worth tuppence, the filthsters at the Sun and the Mail and the Filth-o-Graph, itself, would be vying for broadcast rights,for death cell interviews, autospy notes, the whole grimy, savage and squalid business.

Many younger people are not aligned to any daily or weekly 'paper but get what passes for news from a variety of pan-global sources.

I don't think that a vote or a referendum would necessarily produce a pro-death penalty result; people simply do not trust the politicians and the judges - either their competence or their probity - and would be reluctant, if properly advised, to entrust to them the life of another, another who might be themselves or one of their kin.

It is, nevertheless, mrs woar, a chilling prospect - that a few nonces, beasts and copkillers might, properly deployed, send us back to the Dark Ages.

Woman on a Raft said...

It's not so much the death penalty, Mr Ishmael, but that if a fundamental definition such as the functional basis for marriage (as any old OU sociologist will tell you) can be changed, then everything else which was thought settled can go up in the air.

People would indeed be most unwise to rely on our justice system to keep them safe from false evidence and tidy clear-up strategies, but the irony is that it won't be the nonces, beasts and copkillers which provide the trigger - it will be that everything has been made more thinkable than it was before.