Tony Martin was clearly a trailblazer:
A proposal to allow homeowners to use “any means” to defend their homes, has topped a BBC poll on the bill people would most like to see become law.
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme asked listeners to vote on suggested Private Members’ Bills, with the first choice taking 37% of the votes.
Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, whose fatal shooting of a burglar in 1999 sparked a national debate, welcomed the result.
As well he might. For him this is a vindication. For others, though, this is an embarrassment, not least of all for the Conservative MP who was supposed to be Tony Martin’s champion:
Tony Martin’s MP, Conservative Henry Bellingham said the idea went too far by suggesting homeowners should use “any means” to protect their property.
For politicians this potato is just too hot to touch. The mere mention of rights to self-defence is enough to have them scampering away whelping like whipped curs. Nor do I expect that this synthetic exercise is going to make so much as a dent in the established view that defending oneself from barbarity is morally more reprehensible than the barbarity itself:
More than 26,000 votes were registered by listeners taking part in the poll and the winning bill will now be presented to the House of Commons by Stephen Pound MP.
He will need to persuade the 20 MPs who have been chosen to put forward Private Members Bills to take up the poll winner’s suggestion.
He will have more chance trying to persuade Osama Bin Laden to book his daughters in for pole-dancing lessons. Me being cynical? No, not at all. Just hear what the same Stephen Pound has to say about the whole thing in the Guardian:
Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, who was one of the programme’s judges, expressed surprise at the high vote for such a controversial plan among listeners to such a programme.
“My enthusiasm for direct democracy is slightly dampened,” the MP told Today. “This is a difficult result. I can’t remember who it was who said ‘The people have spoken – the bastards’.”
Hmm, colour me skeptical but I have a hunch that his heart is not really going to be behind this campaign. These people are always agitating for ‘more democracy’ until it jumps up and slaps them in the face. Democracy is only supposed to be for the compliant: no ‘bastards’ allowed.
Mr Pound, however, is one of the more sanguine respondents. Elsewhere there is enough sqwauking and clucking to drown out a poultry market. The Guardian is already denouncing the result as a fix:
The BBC was warned yesterday that it may have fallen victim to a mass lobbying campaign after a controversial plan for a “Tony Martin” law topped a Today programme poll yesterday.
Suspicions were raised when thousands of listeners voted for the mock parliamentary bill which would allow homeowners to use “any means” to defend their homes from intruders. Such a law would have protected Mr Martin, who was jailed for the manslaughter of a teenage burglar, Fred Barras, in 1999.
And from the BBC article, linked above, a dire warning of what such mad and irresponsible ideas would lead to:
But leading criminal barrister John Cooper warned that the idea was dangerously flawed.
He said: “The law as it stands at the moment, despite its critics, is functioning. If you are in your house and you are attacked by someone or threatened by someone, you can use proportionate force.
“We do not live in the wild west. This legislation that is proposed effectively may well turn us into that.”
Thus proving that it is possible to be wrong on more than one level. For a start the ‘wild west’ was nowhere near as wild as legend would have it. But I’m quibbling here because I sort of know what he is driving at. He thinks RKBA and a right to self-defence would result in a desolate landscape riven with feuds, lynchings and random acts of carnage. He is still wrong though because that is exactly the type of scenario we are heading for now. The virtually unprotected citizen is easy meat for predatory.
Having assumed a monopoly of the crime-control business, the British state has found it cannot actually do that job and, increasingly, is disinclined to even try. The only thing they can maintain is the pretence by landing like a ton of bricks on any citizen who dares to be more than a docile farm-animal.
The result of the BBC poll gives lie to the whole facade. People are losing faith in the ability (and even willingness) of the state to come to their aid in time of crisis. As the police spend more of their time collecting taxes and scoring brownie points with their political masters, this disquiet will only grow.
[This article has been cross-posted to White Rose.]