E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging


2:56 pm - August 4th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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An e-petition to retain the ban on capital punishment has already gathered more signatures than the one to bring back hanging.

As the e-petitions site went live today, it included the petition below by Martin Shapland:

A petition to call on the government to retain its position regards the abolition of the Death Penalty for all offences.

That the British people note that only 58 nations currently use capital punishment, as opposed to 95 which have abolished it, further notes the un-retractable nature of such a sentence in incidents of miscarriages of Justice, further notes the death penalty does not reduce crime or act as a deterrent and in US states which practice capital punishment incidents of homicide are higher than US states which do not, further notes the higher cost of capital punishment compared to life imprisonment, believes that British Justice should not be in the same league as China, Iran, North Korea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Syria which do practice capital punishment on a routine basis and that the death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights and an affront to the values of British Justice.

Seems to be written like an Early Day Motion (as one long sentence rather than broken up) but it works for us!

Right now, it has 939 signatures compared to 655 to bring back hanging.

Sign it from here

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Meg Howarth

Signed petition to retain ban on hanging one hour ago but can’t verify signature, so don’t know if I’ve yet been included. Anyone else having same problem?

Just to mention, Martin Shapland also happens to be the recently retired Chair of Liberal Youth.

3. Leon Wolfson

@1 – The site is timing out for me when I try and sign…

4. Shatterface

There are about 100 pro-hanging petitions so their votes will be spread so thin I doubt they’ll reach the minimum they need.

There’s also, apparently, a petition to bring back hanging – but only for those who support hanging.

I wouldn’t worry too much though: most of the pro-hanging MPs will probably have asphyxiwanked themselves to death in a hotel closet before the debate reaches Parliament.

5. Meg Howarth

Like @3 below, still can’t verify signature as relevant page ‘no longer available’. Is this a fix to keep limit responses?

A petition to call on the government to retain its position regards the abolition of the Death Penalty for all offences.

That the British people note that only 58 nations currently use capital punishment, as opposed to 95 which have abolished it, further notes the un-retractable nature of such a sentence in incidents of miscarriages of Justice, further notes the death penalty does not reduce crime or act as a deterrent and in US states which practice capital punishment incidents of homicide are higher than US states which do not, further notes the higher cost of capital punishment compared to life imprisonment, believes that British Justice should not be in the same league as China, Iran, North Korea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Syria which do practice capital punishment on a routine basis and that the death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights and an affront to the values of British Justice.

Sunny, are you aware of how the e-petition thing works? The supporters of the death penalty aren’t going to care whether the wording is for or against so long as the topic gets discussed in Parliament. By encouraging people to sign a petition on the topic you are making that more likely. You’re helping your opponents.

8. Carol Diggle

Absurd that this is even necessary.

Anthony – oh completely, this is just to make him look like a twat.

I have no doubt that it has no hope in hell of actually becoming law. Cameron has already ruled it out.

Fascinating how the fake libertarians, like Staines, who tell us daily how useless the state is, and that it should do noting suddenly think that this same, useless, state should decided if we live or die.

Fake libertarian’s minds must be like rice pudding.

I don’t think there is any politician that has the balls to bring back the death penalty – thankfully.

But if an incident, such as recent events in Norway, happened here, and worse to my family, id have to say bring back the firing squad!

“I don’t think there is any politician that has the balls to bring back the death penalty – thankfully.”

Plenty on the right would bring it back in a flash.

It is all part of their thinking that the state is useless….Oh wait………

Sunny – I really think you’re shooting yourself in the foot here. Firstly, it isn’t totally up to David Cameron. Secondly, he won’t be PM forever. Thirdly, once it gets debated in Parliament the taboo is broken. It becomes an issue for wider discussion. It’s on the table.

Surely you see that? Or are you blinded by your desire to make some guy look bad?

“Thirdly, once it gets debated in Parliament the taboo is broken. It becomes an issue for wider discussion. It’s on the table.”

During the 80’s and 90s there was a debate about the death penalty every 6-7 years. It has always been on the table.

But the publics desire for vengeance will never be satisfied. Some right wingers in the US now want prime time executions on TV. No doubt this will lead to calls for Simon Cowell type shows where the public gets to vote on which type of tool should be used.

15. theophrastus
16. Leon Wolfson

@7 – No, since it doesn’t require action, it wouldn’t actually be taken up in debate by the rules… (Actually, I’m rather surprised it was allowed on that basis)

@15 – Sure, collective responsibility. Fine, oh look, the Cabinet have terrorised disabled people into committing suicide, and therefore…

(What? One law for all. If you disagree there…)

17. Mr S. Pill

@13

for the death penalty to come back we’d have to leave the EU. and no-one is gonna do that (it would cost us £billions that we don’t have for starters).

as Sally says capital punishment used to get debated quite regularly – I think the last time was 1994? – and is thrown out on its arse because Lab + Lib + the liberal Tories will always outvote the nutcase far-right brigade. that is, even if there is a vote on it – right now the only thing that may be on the cards is a debate.

@17: “for the death penalty to come back we’d have to leave the EU”

I feel sure that for those wanting to bring back the death penalty, it is just an additional reason for leaving the EU, the final straw, as it were.

Some folk are obsessional about hanging. My objections are largely practical. I’ve no special regard for the continued good welfare of those justly convicted of murder but, on the evidence, our judicial system is not sufficiently robust to have prevented an alarming number of miscarriages of justice and I have principled objections to hanging innocent people for the sake of maintaining capital punishment:
http://www.innocent.org.uk/

For interest, a movie biog of Albert Pierrepoint, who served on the official list of Home Office executioners for 1932 through 1956, is posted on YouTube in 10 parts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3UCbp7EPo0

Btw he was not Britain’s last hangman. Hanging continued after he resigned in 1956.

Thirdly, once it gets debated in Parliament the taboo is broken. It becomes an issue for wider discussion.

Erm, this strikes me as one of those attitudes where you’re worried about having things up for discussion and would prefer the public don’t get a chance to hear the issues.

I’m not. Let’s have an open debate about DP, EU, an English parliament immigration, porn laws etc etc – because that is how a democracy functions.

Public opinion is in fact moving away from bringing back the DP.

I’ve submitted by petition idea to introduce the death penalty for repeat drink drive offenders on the basis that drink drivers kill about as many as murderers. Fingers crossed.

I would like to see the DP restored for people who do not indicate. And a special DP for Jamie Oliver, Richard Branson and Kirstie Allsopp.

In an unusual sentiment of official enlightment, Japan has just allowed media a tour of its execution facility:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oodCZFhiwGM

@10 Sally

“Fascinating how the fake libertarians, like Staines, who tell us daily how useless the state is, and that it should do noting suddenly think that this same, useless, state should decided if we live or die.”

Yes indeed, but many actual libertarian bloggers are speaking out against the death penalty, and for the reason you give, amongst others – that the state cannot be trusted with such a power.

@19: Not at all Sunny. I was starting from the assumption that you were opposed to the e-petition to bring back capital punishment. From that PoV it makes little sense to support an e-petition against it either.

25. Adrian Chaffey

I note the main pro capital punishment e-petition is put forward by a Mr Paul Staines- Guido?

26. ex-Labour voter

The latest figures show this particular anti-hanging petition is ahead by 9,000 to 5,000. I think the pro-petition has been very much hyped by the media.

I saw Staines and Paul Flynn MP on Channel 4 news last night and I thought Flynn was very poor. He did little to challenge Staines’ phony ‘anti-elitism’.
I think I probably gave up on him when he decided to support David Miliband
(isn’t it amazing how so many Labour MP’s vote for candidates who do not support their views?).

I remember back in 1983 when it looked like it could come back but was defeated.
Willie Hamilton talked about the number of letters he had on the subject–4!
He concluded that there was no great demand and decided to vote against.

I have signed the anti petition eventhough it is very badly written. Thank you for telling us about it and thanks to the person who set it up.

27. Meg Howarth

Agree with ‘ex-Labour voter’ @26 – Flynn inept against the phony anti-elitism of Staines, also that the petition to retain the ban poorly written.

Meantime, some interesting reading: George Orwell’s classic essay: ‘A Hanging’ http://bit.ly/mEP4U1;

The US murder rate has risen, not fallen, since the death penalty was restored in 1976. http://t.co/0Ez5oIe;

and from the outstanding Reprieve:

Education of @GuidoFawkes: Ten myths and facts about the #deathpenalty http://bit.ly/oSDbEE.

At time of writing, anti-restoration petition almost 2x as many sigs as pro-death penalty one.

28. Donut Hinge Party

Why should the state carry out the hanging or death penalty? Surely such services should be passed out to any willing provider. As in the Newgate days, an individual could have a basic service of having their head hacked off with a rusty kitchen knife, which could then upgrade to the whole Soylent Green experience for a sufficient fee.

There’s a lot of talk about re-offenders, but in almost all these cases, the original offence was not something that any civilised society – or even America – would call for the death penalty for. Most non-gang murders are committed in the heat of violent passion or on drugs, neither of which are particularly conducive to rational consideration of the cost/benefit of committing said act.

Of course, in the case of gang murders, it’s largely one section of the underclass against another. It saves on benefits, future hospital bills, clearing up after the mess the gangs leave, and keeps the ethnic population down. I’d have thought the Right Wingers would want to keep things where they are.

It’s interesting, though, that those who quickly call for Pierrepoints to take the lives of others tend to be those who stand in the way of assisted euthanasia. Will we get floods of people with Motor Neurone disease who can’t afford to go to Switzerland committing acts of murder so that they can get a state-metered suicide? Well, no – obviously, that’d be stupid.

Just checking: was it right to hang those Nazi war criminals?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0-hPtF1NDo&feature=related

How about Arthur Greiser? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Greiser

And Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3C4njP5J2o

30. Leon Wolfson

@29 – For crimes against Humanity? Life, meaning life. Not death.

And yes, I am Jewish.

By recent historical accounts, the final death toll of WW2 was about 55 million people.

I can’t say that I ever felt outraged at the hanging of the Nazi criminals in the way I felt about some, although not all of those hanged in Britain by Albert Pierrepoint for civil crimes. George Haigh? John Christie? And it’s cases like those which probably motivate the campaigners for bringing back capital punishment, rather than Derek Bentley, who was posthumously pardoned:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Bentley_case

But the”laws” applied in the Nuremberg Trials were effectively retrospective laws devised by the victors to punish the vanquished:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Trials

It rather looks as though Greiser and Hoess were strung up by the Poles rather than hanged in the way that Pierrepoint hanged war criminals at Nuremberg with his “variable drop”.

If the death penalty was ever restored, a lot of horrible shits would get very excited about the last days of the person to be hanged, details of what they ate etc. The hangings at Tyburn were a popular event.

http://thedabbler.co.uk/2011/08/the-slang-guide-to-london-tyburn

“If the death penalty was ever restored, a lot of horrible shits would get very excited about the last days of the person to be hanged, details of what they ate etc. ”

That’s true. The secondary school I went to – the same one as Tim Berners-Lee – is not far from Wandsworth Prison, a hanging prison in those times, and I can recall instances when particular executions became a macabre discussion topic in morning assembly. Capital punishment wasn’t abolished for years until after I had left school and uni.

WW2 is fertile territory for discussing many challenging moral issues – such as area bombing by the RAF – but there is little taste for that nowadays. I don’t think it is widely appreciated that: (a) Britain’s total war casualties were relatively “light” compared with the suffering endured by other nations embroiled in the conflict; (b) the numbers of executions for “war crimes” after the war was far more than a few dozen – Pierrepoint alone hanged just over 200 and that takes no account of the numbers executed by the Americans, the Soviets, the Poles, the French etc.

34. Charlieman

33. Bob B: “Capital punishment wasn’t abolished for years until after I had left school and uni.”

Bob, you must have been a good boy. I would have been hanged in that regime.

“I would have been hanged in that regime.”

If it is any reassurance, I was charged down by mounted police in Parliament Sq while demonstrating against the Suez invasion in 1956. In those times, abolishing capital punishment was very much the cause of a very small minority.

Banning “the bomb” and CND became the youthful cause, not stopping hanging – Albert Pierrepoint resigned his post as hangman in 1956 and later came out to say that he didn’t believe hanging was an effective deterrent to murder. According to various biographical accounts, he seems to have reached that position after hanging someone who had once been a friend who knew what his part-time job was.

36. Charlieman

@35. Bob B: “If it is any reassurance…”

Yeah, we are living in a more liberal society. And have a good weekend, Bob.

37. Charlieman

On refection, my comments appear very abrupt. That was not my intention. “And have a good weekend, Bob.” was intended to be taken literally.

““And have a good weekend, Bob.”

Thank you. And I did take the way you said you intended. But then, that all depends on what you meant by “good”. (-:

39. Chaise Guevara

This is a guess, but I’m hopeful that reintroducing the death penalty would be a very bad idea for any political party. I know that public opinion on the matter tends to be pretty evenly split, but I’m guessing that a lot of people would find such a law offputting in a very big way. In short, probably more people would vote against a party because it supported the death penalty than would vote against it because it opposed the death penalty.

All this is on top of the issue of international agreements banning it, the worry that politicians would get egg on their face if they introduced a system that was later found to have executed an innocent person, and so on.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  2. dread lock

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  3. David M Gibson

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  4. Lee Hyde

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  5. Carl Poffley

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  6. Andrew Griffiths

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://t.co/9DONOFt >> Site seems to have crashed. #deathpenalty

  7. The Daily Quail

    FFS. RT @libcon: E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  8. Paul Akroyd

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  9. Nick Hider

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  10. Saggydaddy

    RT @libcon E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  11. John Cope

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  12. Mark Doidge

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  13. elliot herman

    Petition to retain ban on capital punishment has already gathered more signatures than the one to bring back hanging http://t.co/L5P1m1m

  14. Steven Hawkes

    some sense at last in this ridiculous debate http://t.co/ZahingH

  15. Supporters Direct

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  16. Supporters Direct

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  17. James Diamond

    Shouldn't even need this debate, but I have signed anyway. RT @libcon: E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  18. James Diamond

    Shouldn't even need this debate, but I have signed anyway. RT @libcon: E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  19. Lindsay Llewellyn..

    FFS. RT @libcon: E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  20. Lindsay Llewellyn..

    FFS. RT @libcon: E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  21. Meg Howarth

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  22. Martin Baker

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  23. David Gregory

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  24. Dave Harris

    I'll sign it as soon as I get back to a full browser…RT @libcon E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  25. Will Ellwood

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/tftlL45 via @libcon

  26. Dominic Linley

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  27. Andrew UK

    Petition to retain ban on capital punishment has already gathered more signatures than the one to bring back hanging http://t.co/L5P1m1m

  28. Catherine Flint

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  29. Lindsay Llewellyn..

    “@DailyQuail: … RT @libcon: E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://t.co/zPhSOoK”
    Conspiracy! Tried 3 times to sign this.

  30. Harry Harpham

    “@libcon: E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://t.co/kxN2Eaq” < Please sign today. It will only take a minute.

  31. Paul McGlynn

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/8rgcKcf via @libcon

  32. Joan Lawson

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  33. Ken Leach

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  34. Nick

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  35. Ryan Hugh Fleming

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  36. Matthew H

    Fuck yeah. RT @libcon: E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  37. Discordian

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/rqerlY

  38. suzy franklin

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/rqerlY

  39. WaveyDavey001

    An epetition to retain the ban on hanging gets more signatures than the one to reintroduce it. Nicely argued http://bit.ly/pJHErs

  40. Jane Ayres

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging http://bit.ly/qauC7V

  41. Robshorrock

    E-petition launched to retain ban on hanging | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/BzEfi4b via @libcon





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