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Wednesday 4 January 2012

Guido Fawked – ASA Slapdown

A recent addition to all the other supposedly campaigning groups out there has been one called Restore Justice. The name plays on the idea that “Justice” has somehow been removed from part of the judicial process – it has not – while in reality being a front group lobbying for restoration of capital punishment. The last judicially sanctioned execution in the UK took place in 1964.

Who is behind this group? It will surprise no-one that Restore Justice is fronted by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes. Staines has taken his idea and, er, waddled with it, starting a petition on the Government’s e-petitions site, and overseeing a propaganda initiative which has asserted that murder rates had doubled since the abolition of the death penalty.

Sadly, though – and utterly predictably for Staines watchers – this assertion is not true, and The Great Guido has today had his knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which has told that the advert was “misleading. This is a polite way of calling out Staines for telling whoppers. It also showed why the claim is not true.

The assertion was stood up by taking figures from 1964 – which is, as noted above, the date of the last hanging, and not the date of actual abolition, which came in 1969. Moreover, the period on which Restore Justice is basing its claim ends in 1997, which is fourteen years ago. Murder rates since then have not been considered by the campaign.

Does this matter? Well, yes it does: in 2008/9 the UK recorded its lowest murder rate for 20 years. The intentional homicide rate for the UK fell from 1.71 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to just 1.17 in 2009. By contrast, the USA, where many states still execute, went from 5.5 to 5.0 in the same period, while Russia, which also executes, went from 28 to 15.

Intentional homicide rates for West and Central Europe – meaning mainly the EU, where no state executes – were the world’s lowest in 2004 and 2010. The figures do not support the central argument behind the Restore Justice campaign, that executing convicted murderers would somehow provide sufficient deterrent in itself to lower the murder rate.

Once again, The Great Guido has been so eager to open fire that he has shot himself in the foot. Another fine mess.


acro said...

Did Ms. Priti Patel (featured on that odious website) not say on Question Time that occasionally executing the wrong person would be worth the deterrent effect the death penalty would have?

Deterrent on who? Who do you deter from crime if you can be killed by the State regardless of whether you are in actual fact a murderer? The possibility of wrongful execution is ultimately why the death penalty should not be reintroduced.

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze me that the old chestnut about "Capital Punishment is no deterrent" is always brought up by opponents of the practice. (For that matter, prison is not a deterrent to the commissiom of crime, so abandon that too, let's?) The death penalty, let's call it what it is, should be available for the same reason as prison terms. The word is "incapacitation." 100% of all executed criminals will never commit any more crimes of any kind post-hanging. Not so "life tariff"; if one is told in effect that there is nothing more we can do to you, what stops that individual from continuing to murder once inside? As well, are we sure that a convicted murderer, once released after a long stretch, won't commit several crimes short of murder that will add a social cost to his release? There is, and should be, a gradation of homicide offences which call for differing punishments. Don't abandon the possibility of ultimate incapacitation of the Fred and Rosemary Wests, and Timothy McVeighs of this world