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Is Lynne Featherstone right – are these child killers a waste of taxpayers’ money?

August 11th, 2009 Posted in UK Politics by

connelly-barkerThe two people pictured on the left may look like highly respectable, upstanding members of the community, but don’t be fooled! They are in fact Tracey Connelly and Steven Barker, who are serving minimum sentences of five and twelve years for the death of Baby P. The delightful Mr. Barker is also serving a life sentence for the rape of a two year-old.

Lynne Featherstone pretty much caught the public mood today when she told the BBC, “There’s certainly a section of the public that think that they should be in jail for life and if they come out they should not receive any protection at taxpayers’ expense whatsoever.” 

Hurrah! It’s an air punching moment to hear a LibDem MP arguing for restraint in spending and exposing the nonsense of this country’s “tough on crime” b*llshit. The LibDem approach – established by Nick Clegg when he was Home Affairs spokesman – is essentially to lock up fewer people, but for longer.

But is Lynne right? Given that virtually all murderers are one day released from jail, do we have any obligation to protect them from possible vigilante attacks? I’m just not sure intellectually, but my guts tell me that Lynne’s hardline is spot on.

16 Responses to “Is Lynne Featherstone right – are these child killers a waste of taxpayers’ money?”

  1. wit and wisdom Says:

    An air-punching moment indeed as the true colours of Liberal Vision become a little more distinct. Not pretty but helpful to the rest of us. Essentially it seems your ‘liberal vision’ is a free for all

    Yes of course a civilised society has a duty to protect all its citizens, even these two scumbags. Vigilantism just doesn’t marry with a fair society.

    Please go now and form your own party. Call it UKIP.

  2. RobW Says:

    If you are accused of committing a crime you are tried in a court of law and if you are found guilty you are sentenced to some kind of ‘punishment’.

    However once you have served that ‘punishment’ you should be entitled to exactly the same rights as everyone else in society. Including the protection of your property rights by the police/state.

    I suppose what you’re asking is should ex-violent criminals be given any additional protection above and beyond what the normal person would expect from the police/state. And I would have to say no to that.

  3. Angela Harbutt Says:

    I am with RobW on this one. Try telling people living in police no-go areas on sink estates that these two somehow qualify for extra protection when there are decent responsible people that cant even get “basic” police protection and see what sort of response you get.

    That said I would also strip Margaret Beckett of her 3 police officers providing round the clock protection too (reported costs are £250k a year). She was awarded this protection when she became Foreign Secretary in May 2006 – but has clung onto it ever since.

    We were all sentenced to her particularly inept period as Foreign Secretary and we are still paying for it (dearly).

  4. Mark Littlewood Says:

    @ wit and wisdom. Presume you want Lynne Featherstone – that well known right-wing headbanger – ejected form the party too? I’m a little less robust than her on this issue, as I explained in my post…Can’t quite see ehr fittign in with the BNP or UKIP though…

  5. wit and wisdom Says:

    I never suggested ejecting you from the party – I am a true liberal and would always avoid exluding anyone if at all possible. I simply think you would be happier if you had a little silo of your own since your views are so far out of kilter with those of almost all LDs.

    As for Lynne, I didn’t hear the interview as I find the Today programme dreadful but I can imagine how a little grandstanding by a LD MP might have gone too far.

    She remains an asset. Does Liberal Vision?

  6. Mark Littlewood Says:

    @wit and wisdom. I don’t think her views were grandtsanding at all – you can find them on the BBC website. I’m not at all sure that she’s wrong, although intellectually I ahve soem concerns about vigilantism (teh threat of it, though, is usually over-hyped). i think it’s an asset that Liberal vision air these sort of views/debates/discussions.

  7. John Scott Says:

    But EVERYONE is entitled to protection by the State from the criminal acts of others. It’s one of the few services that most Libertarians accept the State should provide. To deny that protection to a segment of the populace is to deny them full status as members of that society.

    The former violent criminals get just as much protection from riotous mobs as the rest of us. Happily for those who want mob rule, the “rest of us” don’t get much protection at all> Therefore we can continue with a nice theory of equal (but ineffective) protection for all – hurrah, theoretical coherence and the desired outcome! Aren’t we all lucky?

  8. Mark Littlewood Says:

    @John Scott. I think the problems start coming in when people need specific, exceptional protection (e.g. few would argue that the Prime Minister needs greater protection than the rest of us). This becomes an even harder issue if/when someone needs protection because of their own previous and illegal actions.

  9. Julian Harris Says:

    “Please go now and form your own party. Call it UKIP.”

    This is more than a little amusing given Mark’s, erm, rabidly Eurosceptic views (!)

  10. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Considering how much coverage the bnaby P story has got & considering the public mood Lynne is probably pretty emotional about the whole thing & well we all say emotive crap when we are pissed off & over emotional.

  11. John Scott Says:

    “I think the problems start coming in when people need specific, exceptional protection” – no problems. Everyone is entitled to that specific, exceptional protection, if there is a specific, exceptional need for it. That covers the Prime Minister, witnesses needing protection, suspected paediatricians (sorry, paedophiles) and convicted criminals. All of them have a specific need and in many of their cases it is because of something they have chosen to do. One can argue that some of them may have acted wrongfully, or illegally, but the cause of the protection in all cases is because OTHER people are not willing to obey the law.

    A key tenet of liberalism is that one does not impose oneself on others. If person A violates that rule, is it then acceptable for person B to do so too, provided they do it to person A? If it is not, then the system of State protection from violence has to protect person A, no matter how reprehensible what they might have done.

  12. tim leunig Says:

    What disturbed me about the case was the awful upbringing that these two had. This leads to two points. First, given that we know that abused kids are much more likely to abuse, we should now be even harsher on those people who missed this abuse. Even more signs were there then the public realised until now. And second, given that abuse is all too often intergenerational, we need to be much clearer on the human costs of not sorting it out, not only on the current victim and on other potential victims of the current abuser, but also in terms of the likelihood of creating future abuse and future victims. Why on earth wasn’t Tracey Connelly taken into care, given the descriptions of her childhood, growing up in a faeces ridden house with a drugged mother?

    And should these two be protected? Of course. We know that otherwise vigilantes will get them. That is different to a general climate of fear that does pervade some areas. They are human beings, and that remains the case irrespective of what they have done, and irrespective of whether they are remorseful.

    But it would be good for all of us were we to have a police force we could have confidence in (my last experience with the police was when I was the victim of a road rage incident. Given that the police officer was the one raging at me it doesn’t inspire confidence)

  13. Mark Littlewood Says:

    @ John Scott. Oh my….this really is a tricky issue. I hate issues that I’m unsure about, but I am genuinely unsure about this one.

    If – as per Bruce Willis in one of the Die Hard movies – I decide I want to walk around naked in Harlem with a signboard on my front and back stating “I HATE NIGGERS”, can I ask the NYPD to send police officers to protect me? This would obviously be a pretty dangerous thing to do. Should the taxpayer pick up may tab? Can I expect or anticipate support from the New York law enforcement agencies. Would it be reasonable for them to say “If you do that, you’ll probably get beaten up or killed?”

    I think John’s view may be that the taxpayer should provide security for my escapade. I’m not so sure.

    The issue ISN’T whether individuals should be murdered for wearing such billboards, it’s whether we should be obliged to protect them.

  14. Mark Littlewood Says:

    @ tim.

    You and I may genuinely disagree here. But – to be honest – I’m not sure at all what I think.

    I’m certainly very nervous about the state taking a bigger role in determining what constitutes good parenting. I’m nervous that the horrific example of these two sickos might help the case for a re-emergence of Marietta Higgs.

    I’m quite sure that there are generational issues, but whether the state apparatus is preferable is less clear to me.

  15. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    ‘ Bruce Willis in one of the Die Hard movies – I decide I want to walk around naked in Harlem with a signboard on my front and back stating “I HATE NIGGERS”, can I ask the NYPD to send police officers to protect me?’

    It was Die Hard: With a Vengeance which wasn’t a patch on the original

    Anyways as for your dilemma yes I do thick the police should be there to protect a man doing as you describe as it’s a free speech issue & everybody has a right to free speech however deplorable the views an individual might express.

    I guess you could ask whether members of the BNP should receive police protection when they speak in public.

  16. tim leunig Says:


    If you go around with “I hate niggers” you might be inciting violence or some such. It is legitimate for the state to consider treating you as the aggressor in those circumstances, and even to arrest you, in extremis. But assume you were arrested and imprisoned. On your reselace, the state should protect you against anyone wanting to harm you for what you had done earlier, and for which (via the justice system) you had already been punished.

    These two have been given sentences. That is right. But when they have served them, they deserve protection. Now it may be that the right sentence is life-meaning-life, and if so, so be it. But if that is not the right sentence, then yes, they should be protected on release.

    Like you I am reluctant to see extensions of state control, and for me this is an area where we need very good statistics, and we need to led by evidence. We also need to run children’s homes much better, and to get adoption working. I would prefer to see just about every child adopted, and if that means paying patient people to take on disruptive kids then so be it. Why do we pay people who work in children’s homes, but not pay people who adopt? Shouldn’t we try this?