Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Will Albert Pierrepoint be making a comeback?

It's a condition of membership of the European Union that the legal system of member states no longer includes capital punishment. So if the UK hadnt abolished the death penalty in 1967 its membership of the EU wouldnt have been accepted in 1973. Similarly Turkey's interest in joining the EU will get nowhere until it stops hanging people.The UK is still currently a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and despite mistaken claims during the referendum campaign from morons on the brexit side this court is not linked to EU membership. Court protocols forbid the use of capital punishment by signatories to the convention.

The current and unelected British PM Theresa May however has previously made no secret of her disdain for the european court, and hinted that under a conservative government the UK might leave the ECHR (plans have already been announced to exempt the UK militart from the court's jurisdiction). May's apparent disdain for the European court stems from her time at the home office and claims the convention made it harder to act against suspected terrorists. How true that claim is we dont know but it's worth remembering that under the ECHR everyone in Britain is protected from any potential abuse by our government.

Unlike every other advanced state in the world we dont have a Bill of Rights in the UK. Legally speaking we are 'subjects' of the Crown, and when all is said and done the only legal measure actually stopping a british government from sending the army to drag any of us from our homes is the European convention on human rights.

Polls of british public opinion have consistently shown a sizeable number of people support restoring the death penalty in Britain, with the last major poll on the subject in 2014 showing nearly half the adult population in favour of bringing back hanging. Many UKIP and Conservative grassroots members support the restoration of the death penalty, indeed UKIP has recently sponsored petitions to get the matter debated in the UK parliament.

With a right wing mood on immigration seeming to hold sway - indeed the issue is dominating british politics and certainly won the referendum for the brexit campaign - what's to say similar 'popular' sentiment on capital punishment wont achieve an equally high profile and importance in the future? And if Conservative and UKIP politicians are willing to pander to this sentiment on immigration what's to say they wont do so over capital punishment? With the UK out of both the EU and the ECHR there would be nothing to stop the restoration of the death penatly in Britain if enough MPs at westminister voted for it. It really is chilling to think that the UK has embarked on a path that could see such barbarism return.

Albert Pierrepoint was the longest serving 'hangman' in british history and during his career with the home office is reputed to have executed as many as 600 people from 1931 until he resigned in 1956. Among those he executed was the later pardoned Derek Bentley. Condemned prisoners would often mistake Pierrepoint's handshake upon their initial meeting with him for friendliness - he was of course shaking their hand in order to approximate their weight for their execution. Albert Pierrepoint passed away in 1992 and barring a frankenstein style resurrection obviously wont be coming back. But given the UK's current disturbing political trajectory dont rule out notices in british jobcentres in the future inviting applications 'for hangmen - no experience necessary'. Hey given we appear to be entering an age that revels in Britain's 'glorious' past we might even go back to hanging people in public.

You can't say you havent been warned.

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