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Howard fails to make Lawrence honest

Last night I watched the latest episode of Make Me Honest, in which Howard, a night club entrepreneur, completely and totally failed to make Lawrence honest. “Lawrence” is a fat young Jamaican conman, born and raised. (Last week I watched the previous episode in the same series.)

Nevertheless, Howard, for all the fatuous optimism that he brought to the project and to a large degree because of it, did a job on Lawrence and on all the other Lawrences who now infest Britain, and on the present pathetically feeble legal arrangements in Britain that make life so easy for all the Lawrences, that was sweetness itself.

As an exercise in trying to rescue Lawrence from the errors of his ways, it was an abject failure, with ABJECT FAILURE stamped all over it, from day one. It was never going to work. But the last laugh in this saga may not be Lawrence’s, because Lawrence’s true character is now nailed down in video for all the world to see and complain about. Lawrence’s life is probably now about to get a lot more complicated and nasty. In short, the tabloid pack will now be after him. The key to understanding the “mentoring” relationship that is the basis of this programme is that it is entirely voluntary, on both sides. If the mentor gets fed up and give up (as Howard eventually did give up), end of story. If the “mentee” gets fed up and gives up, ditto. So the problem Howard had with Lawrence was how to string Lawrence along. How was Lawrence to be kept interested in the “mentoring relationship”, given that Lawrence at no point had the slightest interest in turning over a new leaf, indeed had no understanding of what they would mean? Howard did it by by dangling the prospect of yet more easy money in front of Lawrence by promising to hire him as some kind of night club DJ floor-manager something-or-other, all the while flattering Lawrence that he had what it took, despite the fact that it quickly became clear that he had nothing of the kind. Lawrence, meanwhile, had is eye on stealing Howard’s expensive car for a week or two, so that helped as well. If there had been no expensive car, I suspect Lawrence would have disappeared far sooner. Two conmen, in other words, a good one and an evil one, circled each other for the fifty minutes or so of the programme. Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. Howard’s softly softly, one thing at a time approach did nothing to improve Lawrence’s morals, but it did ensure that the video footage of Lawrence weedling and boasting, lying and smiling, buying conspicuous consumption items (“bling”) with other peoples’ credit cards, phoning his conman Jamaican friends to fix for them to do all this, so that he could claim, absurdly, that that he was not doing it, and, when Howard was out of the way, blaming his victims for his own crimes, just piled up and piled up.

So the good news is that Lawrence is now nationally famous as a conman, and the tabloid newspapers will now have him in their sites. Because the result of this apparently completely pointless exercise in non-reform is that there is now enough evidence of Lawrence’s total dishonesty on videotape for it to be extremely clear that the only thing to do with this fat, lazy parasite is to put him in prison for really quite a long time, let him out, keep a close eye on him, catch him after his next con (i.e. after about two days of freedom), put him in prison again for even longer, etc. – and repeat until Lawrence dies of disappointment or drug abuse, whichever comes first.

My man Greg Foxsmith appeared again in this programme, in a cameo role as Lawrence’s defence lawyer, as did, standing next to Greg, one of the semi-heroes (Mike – with his instantly recognisable terrible British teeth) of the previous episode in which Greg also starred. What this tells me is that Greg’s law firm is supplying all the sinners, repentant or otherwise, for this show, and that there is a little clique of creators at work of whom Greg Foxsmith himself is one. It is therefore of even greater significance than I realised last week that politically, Greg is not a centre leftish collectivist, but a centre rightish conservative/libertarian. My belief now is that they all are.

And whereas the political (in the broad sense) message that they got across last week was that individuals – both Greg Foxsmith and the people he was trying to help – can, by their individual efforts, change both themselves and by extension the world for the better, this week the message was: that the law is an ass.

Lawrence, it seems, is known as “lucky Lawrence”, because at the critical moment, when a half-sensible legal system would be sending Lawrence to prison for six months, with a stern warning to the effect that if (when) he did it again it would be more like six years, our actually existing legal system would, in the form the risible (in this show anyway) “Crown Prosecution Service” would either lose the papers, or, more basically, simply fail to do the necessary work. Lawrence would walk out of the court, having promised to pay some risible sum of money like £24, happy as could be, a ready at once to embark upon his next piece of thievery.

As a result, Lawrence was so confident of his ability to carry on conning indefinitely, untouched by the law, that he was in the mood to give the camera crew everything they wanted in the way of memorable monologue, given also that he was so very keen to enjoy himself right now that he would sell his soul for a good one-liner to camera, no matter how much trouble it might make for him in the far distant future, like: tomorrow, and: for the rest of his life.

At the risk of yet again upsetting the equilibrium of David Carr by yet again mentioning Charles Dickens, I have to tell you that, yet again, this did all remind me of … Charles Dickens. Lawrence was, at any rate by the time the editors of this programme had finished with his various performances, a classically Dickensian character, in the sense that he embodied certain human characteristics taken to an absurd extremity, and in that he revealed all this with his own highly individual vocabulary and general take on the world. He was, whatever else you might want to say of him, a truly extraordinary character, oozing charm, and then suddenly spewing forth foulmouthed malevolence as soon as anything went wrong and he was not trying to impress anyone. Lawrence being Lawrence, he had quite forgotten about the longer-term consequences of being foulmouthed and malevolent on camera. It was enough that Howard was not present. Amazing! The final scenes, where Lawrence berated Howard for not “trusting” him, when he had spent the previous forty minutes being totally untrustworthy, were quite remarkable. He would, he said, “prove Howard wrong”. Somehow I think not.

And the utter absurdity of the legal system in its fumbling efforts to deal with such people as Lawrence was a regular Charles Dickens theme. (And, to link to David yet again, this stuff is, I think, also wondrously Dickensian.)

Our present government has reached the stage in its history, if that is not too portentous a word for something so mediocre and trivial, when blaming everything stupid on the stupidity of the previous government no longer words quite as well as it used to a couple of years ago. Six or seven years, or whatever it is, is long enough to have corrected at least some of the ills of the world. So if such ills as those shown in this programme, and what is more ills that definitely relate to what the present government promised it would administer some kind of cure for (remember “tough on crime – tough on the causes of crime”?), remain obstinately with us, that is clearly the government’s fault, and more to the point, it will now be widely seen as the government’s fault. Programme’s like this one strike at the heart of the New Labour project. It showed a legal system that was weak on Lawrence and weak on the causes of Lawrence. It was weak on Lawrence by letting Lawrence get away with it again and again, and it was weak on the causes of Lawrence – the main one that matters, because unlike the island of Jamaica it can be changed, being that: Lawrence can get away with it again and again – by letting Lawrence get away with it again and again.

That other Howard, Conservative Party Leader Michael Howard, upper class Satanist that he is (or is thought to be), might not be very good at jollying old age pensioners along at photo-opportunities, but he is just the fellow to sack everyone now working for that “Crown Prosecution Service” and replace them with semi-competent people, and hence, eventually, to put Lawrence behind bars for all but about a month of the rest of his worthless life. If Lawrence and all the other Lawerences now roaming our land are between them too fat to fit into our existing prisons system, then more prisons should be built.

British conservative/libertarians wonder gloomily why there has been no British conservative/libertarian media revolution to put alongside the Thatcher political revolution, and to put alongside the Reagan and media revolutions that have happened in the USA. When they say media, what they mean is broadcasting, and in particular TV. Well, this programme is the best, most sophisticated, most cannily crafted piece of deliberately and self-consciously conservative/libertarian TV I have seen in Britain in a very long time, and what is more, I believe it to have been deliberately created, by conservative/libertarians, to achieve exactly the effect that it did achieve. Not least of its virtues was that it did not scream “conservative/libertarian TV” out of every frame, and as a result of that it actually got broadcast.

This could, in other words, be the beginnings of that media revolution, to put alongside the best efforts of Jeremy Clarkson. Conservative/libertarians ought to be able to do better than this and, I am happy to report, they are beginning to.

13 comments to Howard fails to make Lawrence honest

  • If current ideas about people like Lawrence being a product of a corrupting unequal society are sound, then why does his rehabilitation take the form of trying to teach him old-fashioned, ten-commandments style morality? Perhaps the programme illustrates a loss of faith in the media at least in the relationship between economic and social status and criminal behaviour.

  • Guy Herbert

    I’m not sanguine about the prospects for punishment by tabloid. The smirking self-satisfied petty criminal is a figure of veneration in Britain, especially if he can manage to be transparently dim and insensitive at the same time. Happy-go-lucky success without work or talent is an aspirational lifestyle choice.

    The man will probably get his own TV series.

  • ernest young


    why does his rehabilitation take the form of trying to teach him old-fashioned, ten-commandments style morality?

    Perhaps because, in spite of so-called modern thinking, it is really the only truly workable morality. Where people are living in close proximity, there has to be a certain level of ‘morality’, that most people regard as an average standard. Some will aspire to higher levels of said morality, and of course, there will always be those who are happy to adopt a lesser standard. All different threads in life’s rich tapestry.

    Why this interpretation of ‘morality’ is held in such contempt these days, is that it is seen as having a religious foundation, and of course, we all know that it is perfectly alright to sneer at anything that is perceived to have any religious connections. The ten commandments are only a summary of what was generally accepted as a reasonable code of behaviour, and is still as relevant today as then. That they were codified and presented to a largely illiterate populace in a story book format, does not diminish their value.

    If we regard religion as a form of politics, (not so far fetched an idea), then Jesus of Nazareth could well be regarded as the prototype politician, but without the ‘party’ machine that we now accept. The Ten Commandments, as we know them, should be seen as a written version of the generally, tried and tested, and generally accepted, code of behaviour.

    Whether the well tested code of acceptable morality the Western world has adopted for the past several millenia is the only viable one, is possibly up for discussion, but to try and substitute it it with a politically correct socialist version, would be utterly futile.

    The very word rehabilitation, means teaching the likes of Lawrence, just what is acceptable behaviour, so that he will be accepted back into the society in which he chooses to live. It is not in Societies best interest to adapt to the Lawrence version of morality.

  • Joe

    Maybe I’m being really stupid, but, can anyone explain to me what value the Crown Prosecution Service is to the country? To me it appears to do nothing but prejudge cases using non-subjective (and often irrelevent) political criteria, to the detriment of all concerned.

    The reason for its creation: That policemen can’t be trusted to prosecute – is daft- if they can’t be trusted to prosecute how can they be be given the position of trust to arrest people in the first place!

    I don’t see how justice be done if a case is prejudged without making full use of access to all the concerned parties and their information? … -or- does the CPS balance this by performing some other useful service to the country that I am missing? It doesn’t seem to help anyone – and time after time I see people in the papers complaining about it, though I see no one in power taking the CPS to task for its crude mishandling of cases… so I’d love to know – what is it’s value that I am so plainly failing to see?

  • The CPS supposedly frees up the police from a lot of casework preparation but that appears to have been negated by the vast multitude of forms necessary whenever someone is arrested- it seems that it takes a Bobby off the streets for several hours, something a store manager in Rochdale told me was widely known by the regular Chav shoplifting scum, where there were only 2 PCs available for the Town centre on any typical weekday afternoon. He sorted it in the end- he moved to Oz…

  • Joe – do you really not see the value in separating the arresters from the prosecutors? This is something any libertarian should support, as it limits the ability of the state to make *your* life a misery on the basis of a single official’s grudges.

    This is not the same as suggesting the CPS shouldn’t be tougher, or at least less incompetent, when dealing with people like Lawrence.

  • Joe

    Ian Grey, Yes- but I wonder is it much different in Oz? (Is there much paperwork for dropping houses on witches 😉

    john b, I see no value in separating the arresters from the prosecuters by a further level of bureacracy. The police hierarchy should be equipped to deal with this problem because the same problem is faced at the point of arrest. If that fails then the lawyers and courts are there to make determinations on the immediate and final judgements as to what is going on. I don’t see anything that is being added valuewise by the CPS. In what extra way are they protecting or preventing or adding or subtracting what these other law professions do not or cannot?

    Really the more I think about it the less sense having a CPS makes to me.

  • Matt Olken

    I found this story interesting because it describes aspects of British culture that I, as an American, am not very familiar with. Unfortunately, for the same reason, I found it a bit difficult to make sense of Lawrence’s personality. It seems that, for you, Lawrence is typical of characters in England with similar issues. Lacking the frame of reference to recognize his type, I’m wondering if you could point me towards any other online stories that deal with similar topics. I’d like to hear more about general problems of crime and criminals in England from you as well. Is this a problem particular to England or is it more universal? Are there people or types of people in America that you see as similar?

  • Cydoniia


    ” I’m wondering if you could point me towards any other online stories that deal with similar topics.”

    Try anything by Theodore Dalrymple (he writes in the Spectator and elsewhere). Dalrymple is a practicing psychiatrist who has written many droll pieces about the British underclass and their social and cultural mores.


  • It’s also worth pointing out that Dalrymple is prone to absurd and ludicrous levels of exaggeration and should be taken with a pinch, if not a pillar, of salt. Often entertaining and/or thought-provoking, though.

    Joe – the difference is that a court will take six to 18 months to acquit you, whereas an independent prosecution service can drop trumped-up charges significantly faster. Of course the police *should* be able to deal with the problem, but as long as the decisionmaking process is within the police heirarchy, there’s a temptation among senior officers to avoid losing face and admit they’re wrong.

  • Joe

    john b, the civil side of the law: lawyer’s, solicitors etc are made available to defend the accused’s interests shortly after an arrest has been made. If there is a problem they are there to make direct representation to higher authority or if this fails – then to pass it on to the news media to proclaim loudly and publicly about any indiscretion.

    If the police are doing wrong then change needs to be made to how the police operate. Allowing them to continue to operate wrongly while inserting a further bureacracy (the CPS) to manage the wrongness is passing the buck… It takes any problem a step further away from a solution. This leads me to believe that the CPS is not there to help the public but rather it is there to help the authorities manage the statistical aspects of arrest and trial according to rigid political criteria that operate regardless of the facts, the truth, or justice.

    Lawrence’s case provides a good example of how an anti-social lifestyle is furthered by the politics of CPS and the law. Instead of the criminal system correcting his behaviour it is enabling it! The idiots at the CPS shouldn’t be sacked and replaced – What should happen is that the whole white elephant which is the CPS agency should be removed and binned.

  • I only caught the last half of this show, and it was unbelievable. Howard the mentor (who owns, amongst other establishments, London’s Leopard Lounge) looked like Clark Gable or some other ’40s-era film star brought to modern life, driving around in the most gorgeous Bentley you’ve ever seen. He clearly has all the trappings of a successful capitalistic life, yet instead of simply writing a cheque to some charity in order to satisfy his altruistic urges, chose to put in more hard work than Lawrence deserved to try and help him go straight. While Lawrence is a scumbag who made me want to give him a slap, it was nothing short of amazingly cheering to watch Howard give of himself.

    On one occasion, Lawrence was over three hours late for a meeting with Howard (in a park somewhere). Howard sat there and waited, and Lawrence seemed not to care. When he arrived, he had the gall to tell Howard that he (Howard) was lucky Lawrence had showed up at all, since he still needed to sort out his bling and posh car for the MOBO Awards that night (tickets scammed with someone else’s credit card), and berated Howard for not having faith in him. “I think you owe me an apology,” he told Howard. How Howard resisted giving him a fistful of apology is anyone’s guess.

  • ravi

    just wondering, could you point me in the direction of howard the club owner………

    i would like him to mentor me in that industry…………i really am willing to do anything even if it means working for free for a little while

    thank you