Thursday, 29 October 2009

DUP MP solitary advocate of death penalty at Commons' debate

We’ve had Ian McCrea’s campaign to prevent the Pope visiting Northern Ireland, Iris Robinson’s hate-filled remarks about homosexuals, Sammy Wilson’s climate change denial, Edwin Poots et al with their five thousand year old Earth and Jim Wells versus wifi.

But if anyone still harbours a suspicion that the DUP might be remotely connected, by even the flimsiest thread, to the mainstream of British politics, they should examine Gregory Campbell’s contribution to a Westminster Hall debate aimed at pressuring some of the more unpleasant regimes throughout the world to abandon the death penalty.

Across party divides agreement was reached that abolition should be sought in countries including Iran, China and Belarus. A rare accord, which did not include the East Londonderry MP, who rejected ‘cosy consensus’, on the basis that a ‘small number of serial killers who treat the prospect of redemption with utter contempt’ could ‘commit another crime against an innocent person’. A scenario which might unfold if the particular killer ‘had escaped detention’.

As Mark Durkan acidly observed,

“The hon. Member for East Londonderry has described a scenario, but he has not given us any actual examples of notorious serial killers who have either been released and killed other people, or escaped. He is giving us Hollywood fantasy scripts; he has given us no concrete examples.”


On this tenuous basis, Campbell continued to profess himself ‘unconvinced’ by the case for abolition. To his credit the Conservative MP for Aylesbury, David Lindington, generously noted that surprising levels of public support for the death penalty exist in Britain, which “should put us on our guard when we debate how to engage with other sovereign nations that have decided, for reasons of their own, to retain the death penalty”.

It would be interesting to discover whether Campbell’s position is commonly held by DUP representatives and whether it reflects party policy. It is certainly seriously out of step with positions adopted by all the mainstream parties. And it clearly exacerbates the sense that the DUP consists of eccentric, reactionary populists, considered a lunatic fringe at Westminster.

1 comment:

Kevinho said...

Fortunately EU law prevents the terrifying possibility that the death penalty could be restored in Britain. But I have my suspicions that among all parties Mr McCrea wouldn't be the only one that argues against its 'total abandonment'. Anyone remember the Tory MP that argued that there should be live floggings on the National Lottery TV show?