By Finn Bunting
The UK’s new Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions supports the reintroduction of the death penalty because she believes it would be a deterrent for criminals.
Priti Patel, Conservative MP for the Witham constituency in Essex, was speaking on BBC’s Question Time programme in September 2011:
“I have said this before and I say this again: I do think that when we have a criminal justice system that continuously fails in the country and where we have seen murderers and rapists … reoffend and do those crimes again and again I think that’s appalling… On that basis alone I would support the reintroduction of capital punishment to serve as a deterrent.”
Despite there being no proof that capital punishment acts as a deterrent to crime, the issue is something Patel seems to have in common with her Conservative colleague Michael Gove, who as a newspaper columnist for The Times supported the return of the death penalty.
Gove claimed his support was based on “respect for democracy”.
“[Abolishing the death penalty] has led to a corruption of our criminal justice system, the erosion of all our freedoms and has made the punishment of the innocent more likely, as it had come with the Home Secretary being given the power to impose whole-life tariffs. Hanging may seem barbarous, but the greater barbarity lies in the slow abandonment of our common law traditions … I would prefer a fair trial, under the shadow of the noose.”
The UK has traditionally been at the forefront of the anti-Capital Punishment movement, leading the charge in restricting the export of death penalty drugs to the United States, in 2011, under the direction of Liberal Democrat Vince Cable - a move the rest of the European Union followed in 2011.
A country cannot be a member of the European Union and have the death penalty as a punishment, as its abolition is a condition of membership. But with an EU membership referendum seemingly on its way who knows what the future holds?