Is fairness enough?

Every so often the editorial team at LDV towers inadvertantly posts something that ordinary people actually find interesting. Unaccountably, this is never about Land Value Tax, proportional representation or Trident. The stats graph buckles and the thread concerned fills with – usually – anger of some kind.

This first happened way before my time with the thread about social workers breaking up families (which did serve a purpose, as we were able to pass along all instances of people needing help to John Hemming, whose campaign it was), then more recently came the Gurkhas and, today, there is the Baby P thread. It’s not so much the length of the comment thread – a relatively modest 59 at the time of writing; we’ve had arguments about the existence of god that have gone on twice as long. The signs are in the names on the thread – totally unfamiliar – and the way in which, at times, their jarring illiberalism intrudes on our inbred circle. This is no surprise as, for reasons of interweb magic that escape me, the LDV story is the top hit when you search for Baby P on Google at the moment.

And yes, some of the comments on there make me shudder, for all that I can see where the revenge instinct comes from. Sterilisation, execution, torture – being beaten up in prison is the mildest thing most commenters are wishing on the murderers. But reading this sort of stuff at length makes one detect patterns. It occurs to me that, for all that people claim to want “justice” in cases like this, what they really mean is that they want injustice to be perpetrated against the guilty, the kind of senseless, unexpected injustice, alarming, probably physical and beyond the rule of law, that overtook the original victim. They want something of commensurate unfairness to happen to the culprit. Of course, you can’t get much more unfair than three adults torturing a baby to death, so the unfairness required to balance it is immense. In terms of the “fairness” of the case, how can you hurt an adult as much and as indefensibly as a baby? To be as “helpless as a baby” is the most extreme definition of helplessness against injustice there is.

No wonder people hate the justice system. Justice is innately concerned with fairness. A legitimate and proportionate punishment that the state is qualified to mete out is by definition a fair one. An unfair punishment is what the victim’s family – or in this case public defenders – really want. Something out of the ordinary, something that infringes the rights of the guilty one on a personal rather than state-sanctioned level. You start to see how principles such as lopping a hand off for stealing might start to gain ground again in this country, after several hundred years of abeyance before the principle of “fairness”.

Fair is a big Liberal Democrat word, of course. And rightly so, but it probably wouldn’t hurt us to remember that it’s a relatively modern concept. The justice system is based on fairness to protect us from our own baser instincts, our instinct for revenge, for vigilanteeism and for disproportionate reaction. But it wasn’t always based on that. Our particular variety of fairness is a post-Enlightenment understanding – before that, what was known as “natural justice” held far more sway in the making of law. Many individuals secede from that post-Enlightenment understanding, historically speaking they’re not in an indefensible position and, occasionally, they turn up on LDV to remind us. I am moderately glad, I guess, that they do this, and moderately alarmed at what it means for liberalism and democracy. Can both exist? Would a democracy, fully constituted, vote against fairness?

39 Comments

  1. This is exposing something that has to be addressed.

    I have advocated that the homophobia & misogyny within Islam need to be confronted, as to fail to do so would betray the vulnerable & mean the sacrificing of true liberalism to political correctness.

    We need to be aware, here, that people who are utterly unfit to have children are becoming parents. It should have been obvious that Baby P’s mother shouldn’t have had a child. We will do no one any favours by tiptoeing around being nice & “sensitive”, overlooking the fact that so many ill-equipped, poorly educated & frankly inadequate people are reproducing, aided by the welfare state, because they have nothing else in their lives.

    It outrages any remotely human person that this kind of filth goes on, as these commentors can testify. I thought exactly the same thing, that they should be killed in agony.

    It is understandable that social workers want to keep children with their families. It is the best environment in most cases, when you consider the inadequacies of “care” & the difficulty of getting foster or adoptive parents for some.

    Yet we have to be aware that many parents fail at this essential job. Many liberals are affected by middle-class & white guilt, but I’m not, & I think these things obscure the basic principle that people like Baby P come first. This flabby “thinking” must be banished from respectable discourse now.

    I grew up on an estate, & practically everyone (including my own family) had an income well below “average”. But there was a huge difference between those who cared whether their children lived or died (among whom many wonderful single parents) & the casualties.

    No more tiptoeing around in fear of the offence takers. We have a creed which aims to benefit the worst off & we are going to put it into action. Then, there wouldn’t be so many calls for draconian punishments as these horrors might just be prevented.

  2. What’s all this about “awaiting moderation”? I’ve actually managed not to swear at all, even though I didn’t consciously set out to be clean. These are my views, not in the heat of the moment but after endless observation & practical living of life at the bottom.

  3. Since you evoked the Enlightenment, I don’t feel bad quoting Jefferson!

    I think a fully-constituted democracy would cope just fine with fairness. Jefferson 1789 – “whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government” – i.e. a real democracy means educated citizens, so if they’re having arguments, they’re not arguing from a position of ignorance, so the argument is valid and doesn’t threaten general fairness.

    On the other hand, Jefferson 1787 – “The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.”

    There’s nowt wrong with real, true democracy as an ideal. It’s just how optimistic you are about getting there.

  4. I think the anger in the Baby P and Gurkhas thread is partly caused and amplified by a feeling that “the system” doesn’t listen, and in both these cases I think that feeling is probably shared by most people who would take the same view of justice as you or I Alix.

    For example, in the case of Baby P, the initial council press conference had the authorities repeatedly refusing to apologise or admit that things had gone seriously wrong with the way the case was handled.

    Having political and government systems that listen, respond and react more is something we can aspire to, and would take the edge of many people’s reactions I think.

  5. I think a democracy could cope. I am sorry but I think the LDV thread has stopped being a debate and taken on the contours of a restive lynch-mob. Yes people should lose their jobs but are the people posting on the thread going to be satisfied with that? I doubt it;

    “Haringay council and especially that clown shoesmith and her partners in crime should be locked up”

    You just know there are people out there who are itching to take things into their own hands. Our correct calls for accountability have to be balanced and measured with temperence and I fully expect to be leapt on for saying this…..

  6. Mark, I agree that some of the anger being directed at individuals in the Baby P thread is originally born of a frustration with a system that doesn’t seem to listen. Which raises an interesting point: how can we, on those threads, show that Liberal Democrats do listen to people, even when they’re angry and saying things we passionately disagree with?

  7. I think there is a fine line between listerning and being responsive and actually leading and saying this is out of hand. People should not be ringing Sharon Shoesmith….

    I think the links Alix posted in the thread were helpful. Mark is right that this is borne out of a frustration with a system. However, an additional point in response to this posting is that the simple problem is that this wrong can never be righted…nothing can change what happened now…all we can do is focus on prevention…

  8. I think there have (quite understandably) been a few areas in which calm thinking have been suspended by this case. In addition to people giving vent to their desire for vengence (I guess the comments page of a blog is a less harmful place than many to do it) here have been calls of “the Government must do something” and suggestions that Central Government should somehow wrest control from Haringey Council. As proponents of localism, such a thing is anathema but it seems rather unsatisfactory to say “if the council have failed on this, you can always vote them out ome 2010.

    It also seems to have caused barricades to be thrown up on the subject of social workers. Some commentators suggest that this is indicative of the failure of the whole profession, which then causes other people to leap to their defence and if they’re not careful, end up blindly defending the specific people involved in this case.

    I don’t know what the answer is here, trying to argue with an angry person is rarely a fruitful exercise Brown has been criticised for displaying insufficient empathy and even emotion in this case. I guess it’s just a case of our MPs etc being sympathetic but sensible and hoping that nobody feels inclined to propose kneejerk reactions.

  9. Except in very simple cases (e.g. a fair die), fairness is highly subjective. It cannot be the basis for a justice system because in any practical circumstance it cannot be defined. The justice system should aim to make tomorrow better than today. That means that those who choose to transgress our agreed rules should be removed from temptation or deterred from reoffending. Our humanitarian instincts in this regard should include the interests of potential victims. Indeed, they should be our main concern.

  10. Painfully,

    I agree that it is understandable but the commentor who said she was going to phone Sharon Shoesmith was obviously going to take things further and I just wonder a) how far people will actually go and b) how many people will want to go further…

    With your end paragraph I agree…politicians are there to lead and necessarily leadership sometimes will entail appearing a bit aloof and distant precisely to avoid the kneejerk reaction…

  11. Interesting questions, Alix. Could a democracy vote against fairness? It certainly could. Liberal (small l) democracy is a fragile blossom, a rare and valuable post-Enlightenment construct, but far from respresentative human history. . Take a broad but dispassionate view of the CV of homo sapiens and it is very hard to see how liberal democracy based on the rule of law can be regarded as a natural human state – the evidence is that humanity seems to default to some sort of feudalism. The values of civilisation are not easy and require constant exercise and practice from all of us if we wish to maintain them. The triumph of mankind is that we have managed to rise above our most deep-seated urges at least some of the time. But we can’t take that for granted, especially at times of stress.

  12. “Would a democracy, fully constituted, vote against fairness?”

    Perhaps also worth reflecting on a sister question: would a democracy, fully constituted, vote against democracy itself? Sadly there is evidence to suggest that some people, when liberated, use that freedom to lock themselves in again, by voting for one-party states and theocracies, thus saying in effect that they’d rather than be troubled by the responsibilities of democracy. I reckon a lot of people are happier when being told what do to than facing the scariness of self-determination: then they don’t feel responsible for the outcomes, and still have someone (the great all-embracing ‘Them’) to complain about.

  13. I’m going to be slightly nastier about the ‘hang ’em high’ brigade. I was on Guido when he blogged about the injuries and the nutters came out of the panelling like .303 woodworm.

    This is about an excuse. All of a sudden some very nasty, very petty people have some hate figures towards whom they can vent their incoherent spleen and feel righteous at the same time. They don’t need much justification, because no-one in their right mind is going to defend the perpetrators in this case. Moreover, the simplistic counter-attack to anyone who dare suggest that the abusers not be hanged, drawn etc is that they are in some way apologists for what happened. Drivel, but in the height of emotion, persuasive drivel.

    It’s certainly true that what they are calling for is unjust, but that’s not why they’re calling for it per se. Tellingly, some commenters went off on one about immigrants until it was pointed out that the people concerned here were British and white. Others have used it as a rallying call against single mothers, chavs, et al.

    I remember the furore over the James Bulger case and there were people saying some distasteful, very similar things about what it is pretty clear were two fucked-up pre-teens who didn’t really understand what they’d done. They were perhaps more deserving of sympathy that the perpetrators of this crime (let’s not deny that abusing a child in such a way is repugnant and vile in every extreme – to call it inhuman is a mistake; /only/ humans could take pleasure in causing hurt for hurt’s sake) but likewise became totems of anything that people didn’t like (I think ‘video nasties’ got it in the neck that time). Rest assured that if the BNP could find any way to link this to untrammelled immigration, they would.

    I would be extremely surprised if the mass of people calling for revenge gave two shits about Baby P when he was alive. Even people who should know better are making hay on this one; Steve Richards in the Indy used it as an example of why centralisation is a good thing (oddly, his favourite topic). Anyone with a bone to pick with Social Services is picking it clean (see Jon Gaunt). I await Stephen Green holding it up as an example of how demons possess people who have sex outside of marriage and why it’s all somehow the fault of Jerry Springer: The Opera.

    “Would a democracy, fully constituted, vote against fairness?” Of course. Each and every time.

  14. Squiff, I take your point about middle class liberal guilt, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that. If we were to reduce benefits to discourage childbirth, the only people who’d go ahead and have children regardless would be the real no-hoper sociopaths. People with common sense and compassion – good potential parents – wouldn’t. So removing benefits really just initiates a fresh round of mistakes and injustices.

    Plus I think even if we could agree that there is a concept of people being “unfit” to have children in the first place, it is genuinely impossible to judge in many cases. For example, from everything I’ve read, this woman had several previous children none of whom gave the authorities anything like the same cause for concern. The problem appears to have been the boyfriend and what she let him do. How could anyone ever have tested for her lack of protective instinct (or whatever it was) before it was actually tested in real life by the appearance of (I presume) a controlling psychopath?

    I’m increasingly leaning towards sockpuppet’s view on that comment thread. It’s not that I don’t completely understand the frustration about closed systems – and the very natural rage about what actually happened – but somehow you suspect that none of these people ever do anything about the stuff they profess to care about so much. Lobbying your MP to sign an Early Day Motion just isn’t nearly so much fun as ranting about torture and sterilisation.

    Darrell, I was in two minds about the phone call thing. On the one hand, obviously the poster meant to do it abusively, which is out of order, as you say. But on the other, people do have a perfect right to ring up public servants and tell them when they’ve done a bad job (though I guess it would be questionable whether a non-Haringey resident could legitimately do that). If all the people who are railing against Shoesmith tried some legitimate low-level hassling of their own councils, local newspapers and child protection services, they could personally contribute towards ensuring that nothing like this could happen in their town. But, y’know, they won’t. Basically cos submariner (and Jefferson) are right, and they’d rather complain.

    Tcoh. I’m even more depressed. I am going to try and blog a “response post” on LDV along the lines Liz suggests though.

  15. I don’t know if any of the responses to this are a cause for depression, as it often take extreme events to wake people up to their opportunities which can only be offered in a democracy.

    Many of the first-time commenters on LDV may be grateful for the chance to blow off some steam – which at least shows them as prepared to engage. Then it is up to us to keep them engaged by showing we value the right to reply and are also prepared to use it (with better examples then theirs).

    How do you resist a lynch mob? Blazing Saddles probably has something to say on this.

  16. Alix,

    I think you are right and I think we should stress that we are not against legitimate questions and legitmate grivence but stress that there are proper ways to express this; I think this is the only politically responsible way to behave.

    Like you say about the phone call what made me against was the fact she obviously intended to be abusive. The tone of the comments on LDV puts the nagging thought in my head more tragadies maybe heaped upon the already existing one. There will always be some nutter out there wanting to make a name for themselves and will see this as an opportunity…

    Although Shoesmith did her job badly by all accounts and should lose it that should be the end of it…like I said on my blog though the sense I get off the LDV thread is that it wont be for some people…

  17. Jigger. Well, the attitudes I bemoaned are not so much liberal as politically correct. They are different: you can be both (as in your average confused Guardian reader), you can be PC but not liberal (George Galloway), you can be liberal but not PC (me, Johann Hari, Sunny Hundal et al).

    I wasn’t saying anything against some form of welfare state, or calling for people’s benefits to be withdrawn. I apologise for giving that impression, in what was actually quite a bad comment, because…

    My mistake was to offer one part of an a la carte menu which is my recent thinking. I didn’t put it into the context of the other views I’ve been evolving, which have come out in my exchanges with Darrell, in the comments I’ve left at To Miss With Love (are you a reader?) & elsewhere.

    This is basically that working-class self-agency is a very good thing & we have a great tradition of mutual, voluntary & cooperative behaviour. Trade unions, building societies, the original working men’s clubs & such like. I add the caveat that they’re not really enough imho, which is why we need some vague kind of welfare state, but they should be encouraged.

    This might be the best primer:
    http://dry-valleys-2.livejournal.com/568.html

    It struck me when I read the MOSAIC business (which I fell in love with, but which isn’t quite as good as VMs, & I maintain that even if cultdyn STILL hasn’t updated after 1000 years of me waiting for it).

    I wondered why some areas withstood Thatcherism & others turned into hellholes, & I thought some of it must have to do with the culture of areas. This estate really does sap people. You can read “Estates” by Lynsey Hanley. I was moved by her analysis & it is true. The connclusion I reached isn’t far from being the exact opposite of hers, but at least she raises the issue & won’t settle for less.

    Baby P, to reluctantly drag myself back to the issue, wasn’t born on a desert island to robots. He lived in a certain culture. I don’t so much blame welfarism as the total absence of self-agency. It is a very hateful thing that liberals should struggle against by encouraging self-employment, mutual & voluntary provision, & a general loosening of both large bureaucracy & large corporations, to be replaced by civic society.

    Unilaterally reducing benefits would be a disaster, as you rightly say. But reducing the supply would create more self-reliant people. In my pessimistic moments I wonder whether someone with an IQ below, say, 85 can do anything in today’s world. But I believe in progress & the future, & basically my anger stems from a conviction that things can & should be better & there are forces in the way at which I am angry.

    PS-
    I agree that there’s no dictionary definition nof “unfit”. It is NOT to do with being a single parent or being on benefits, as there are excellent people in those categories. Having said that I am being nagged at by voices saying the Centre for Social Justice have got a point. I don’t sneer at them, I listen to them & Peter Hitchens on the issues, as much as I will be often be moved to disagreement or outright disgust.

    What I wanted to say in the original post was let’s decide to defend liberal values & protect those for whom we have a concern, amongst which the Baby Ps of this world are numbered.

  18. Asquith,

    Hang on a sec…no i dont read To Miss with Love so you have me at a bit of a disadvantage here because we are having exchanges I am not even aware of…could you link me please?:)

  19. http://tomisswithlove.blogspot.com

    Especially the latest post, in which I spouted, but I turn up fairly regularly.

    Basically I was thinking in terms of what we said to each other about libertarianism, in which I explained that while I share your opposition to libertarianism I am emphatically liberal rather than social democrat… I seem to recall mentioning MOSAIC to you.

    http://momentsofc.blogspot.com/2008/10/is-make-it-happen-out-of-date.html (& other comments on your blog).

    I was merely explaining to Alix that I don’t think what my initial comment may seem to think & I had forgotten to consider that most people aren’t fully up on developments in my thought, presumably as a result of not giving a shyte🙂

    Let me reiterate, no political correctness & no kowtowing to the offence-takers, who should grow up. Our values have got to be fought for as our liberal forefathers did.

  20. http://tomisswithlove.blogspot.com

    Especially the latest post, in which I spouted, but I turn up fairly regularly.

    Basically I was thinking in terms of what we said to each other about libertarianism, in which I explained that while I share your opposition to libertarianism I am emphatically liberal rather than social democrat… I seem to recall mentioning MOSAIC to you.

    http://momentsofc.blogspot.com/2008/10/is-make-it-happen-out-of-date.html (& other comments on your blog).

    I was merely explaining to Alix that I don’t think what my initial comment may seem to think & I had forgotten to consider that most people aren’t fully up on developments in my thought, presumably as a result of not giving a shyte🙂

    Let me reiterate, no political correctness & no kowtowing to the offence-takers, who should grow up. Our values have got to be fought for as our liberal forefathers did.

  21. Replied, Darrell, but I’m awaiting moderation again.

    Seriously, what’s this all about? You don’t seem to have any definition of why some posts get moderated & others go straight through.

    I am all at sea🙂

  22. I finished early, having been credit crunched, & have got my exercise in. Now just sodding around before going out.

    What I will say is I was surprised not to have got negative feedback over my first comment. I didn’t make myself clear. I committed the cardinal sin of assuming everyone is as familiar with my thoughts as I am. I wish people would read my comments everywhere, but no😀

  23. The price of living in a society that has laws, courts and a police force that turns up on demand is that its citizens must completely surrender their right to take individual vengeance, however strong that urge may be.

    Something that the majority of people in this country will never appreciate, or indeed wish to appreciate. They might lose their taste for vigilante justice once they realised there would no longer be anything whatsoever to prevent it applying to them and theirs.

    Even worse, from the point of view of most people, is the fact that the British criminal justice system is not set up to cater directly to the needs of victims of crime, their families or others in the wider community who may feel wronged. It is set up to serve our wider society, exactly as it should be. And society’s interests are different from those of individuals and families.

    What does this mean? Well, it is not in society’s interests to maim, kill or incarcerate its citizens for years at a time since this removes their ability to contribute, economically and in other ways. It is far more useful to try to turn criminals back into productive, successful, functioning citizens. So this is what our criminal justice system attempts to do (sometimes with a very questionable degree of success, admittedly).

    This is why the victims, relatives or others closely affected by a crime are the very worst people to comment on criminal justice matters because they are, for very understandable reasons, completely focused on their own needs and responses rather than on the wider demands of society. (But they are also always the first people asked for their views.)

    It also strikes me forcefully that the victim of this despicable and quite hideous crime was, like that other subject of mass hysteria Madeline McCann, another appealing blond child.

    While I absolutely condemn what happened, I also wonder how the hang’em and flog’em brigade might feel about the hundreds of thousands of children in other parts of the world who are dying through lack of access to nutrition, basic healthcare or clean water.

    Have they contributed to a development charity recently? Or spared a little of their sympathy for all those damaged children from unhappy backgrounds who fall through the system and end up homeless, or as offenders themselves? No, thought not. Bit of a compassion gap there, I suspect.

    This whole ‘debate’ really does make me feel tired.

  24. I was brought up on a council estate, and later represented one as a councillor. I saw how they used to work, and I saw how they work now. In the past it was a much more mixed community, there were strong and intelligent and reasonably well off people, and everyone knew everyone else, so the stronger and more stable people tended informally to keep order. When kids grew up, they got council housing nearby, so you had a network of grannies and aunties who helped with child care and kept the weaker family members on the tracks.

    Now it doesn’t work like that. The strong and stable and reasonably well off people don’t get council housing. They don’t stand a chance of an allocation. To get a chance of a new council house allocation, you have to be in really desperate circumstances. It has been decided by the great and good that it is “racist” to allocate council housing in a way that ensures there are grannies and aunties nearby. So the supporting structure has been knocked out.

    Some have said the welfare state is the problem – takes away initiative. But I would say the learned helplessness which right-wingers blame on the welfare state is just as much caused by big business. Big business encourages people to sit on their bums watching ready made entertainment and eating ready made food.

    The other big problem is drugs. There always was some problems with alcohol, but they have grown. The other illegal drugs weren’t there is the past but they are there now, big time. They sap sense and drive. I used to take the liberal line on cannabis, but I’m afraid seeing just how it has sucked the sense out of council estate and turned so many people into useless morons, I no longer can. Most times when I found people at their wits end because of some problem family, the problem family were druggies.

  25. Matthew Huntbach, supporting liberalisation of the drug laws does not entail “approving” of drugs or thinking they should be taken more widely, it’s just a recognition that prohibition isn’t working, & that drugs should be legal but regulated & restricted.

    It wasn’t the weed that made these people a problem, it was other circumstances. Just like guns don’t kill people, nor do drugs. In The Netherlands there are highly liberal attitudes towards drugs & sex, but addiction & teenage pregancy are not rife because the culture there is such.

    If they had something in their lives other than hopeless dependency, this kind of shite wouldn’t happen.

  26. Matthew, I think that on issues such as drugs it is important to distinguish clearly between cause and effect, but how we define this and how we respond to our definitions is culturally determined (as Asquith points out) – so is the problem environmental, societal, political or a variable mixture of all the above?

  27. Who is more free? The person who has cheap and safe tenure housing, or the person who knows that couple of months unemployment could lead to repossession? Asquith, you talk of “hopeless dependency”, but what do you mean by this? You think throwing the inadequate on the streets to cope for themselves will help?

    What do you propose to give them “something in their lives”? As I’ve already said, I think our modern consumer society is just as much to blame for creating a dependency culture than the welfare state.

    I am very well aware that supporting the liberalisation of drug laws does not imply thinking they are good to take, though I’m afraid there are plenty who do take the line of supporting liberalisation because they think they are good or at least not harmful.

    Sorry, Asquith and Oranjepan, but my years as a councillor for a deprived estate, and what I saw there at the way drugs had turned so many people into helpless morons who were horrible to anyone who wasn’t like them, and whose kids lived terrible lives having to cope with the mind-smashed adults who lived with them have convinced me that they ARE a scourge, and a major part in why these places have become so much nastier to live in than they used to be. Saying this doesn’t necessarily mean I advocate the conventional criminalisation approach to tackle the problem. But ask anyone on these estates and they’ll tell you – once the kid turns to weed, he’s useless. Weed is a rotten drug which slowly saps you, not the “harmless” thing which we used to be told it was.

  28. Hang on there Matthew, I thought I was sitting squarely on the fence!

    If it is consumer culture which creates a mentality of consumption for consumption’s sake then I think we need to look at the underlying concerns.

    I’d say we have a breakdown in the quality of legislation, in the consistency of it and in the thoroughness of it. The law is so confused currently that if you asked teenagers what it says they’d all be guessing.

    On it’s own legislation fails to address the disillusioning and discouraging routine which people try to escape from, but without legislation there can be no sensible institutional framework to support those who are struggling to break out of the vicious circle.

    The point is to get any legislation right and to make sure you follow a coherent policy framework across policing, housing, education, health…

    So to ban or to unban depends on whether there is the political insight and necessary imagination to fully understand the connections between policy areas and the political will and knowhow to follow through on those conclusions.

  29. Of course a democracy could vote against fairness. One example would be that religion is inherently unfair to certain groups, as Asquith pointed out, yet people often vote on religious lines in all kinds of contexts.

    The hatred of the BNP also goes against ‘fairness’ in terms of denying them a political platform.

  30. I grew up on an estate, & practically everyone (including my own family) had an income well below “average”. But there was a huge difference between those who cared whether their children lived or died (among whom many wonderful single parents) & the casualties.

    I currently live on one of those ‘estates’ to which you are referring and it consists of elderly people, ‘wonderful single parents’ and people like me (mental health problems). I think it should be razed to the ground and its occupants arrested and put into camps. Including my 92 year old neighbour who helped save our asses in world war two. It’s a pity that those pesky Nazis gave eugenics and euthanasia such a bad name. Bring on the phenobarbital (aka Luminal), I say.

  31. Oh yeah, and it’s mostly selfish middle class brats who whine about being emotionally abused. i hope they take a long, hard look at this case and realize what real abuse looks like.

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