Saturday, 7 March 2009

Mr Prescott is right; Scotland Yard is wrong

"What is totally unacceptable is the way the woman walked away claiming it was her right in democracy. She should have been arrested. It is not acceptable that she should be allowed to walk away after an assault."

That was John Prescott's reaction to the latest custard throwing incident, when Lord Mandelson was targeted by a woman protesting against the plan to expand Heathrow airport.

It may seem strange, but I think that John Prescott may be right. I want to be able to walk down the street without having custard thrown over me, and it seems reasonable that the law should protect me. And if me, why not Lord Mandelson? OK, he's a politician, and a member of the government to boot (or the government to boot out, if you prefer), but he is entitled to some protection from the law. And that means that Miss Deen should have been arrested and charged with assault.

Scotland Yard, on the other hand, are wrong. They seem to think that there was something unacceptable that Miss Deen was able to approach Lord Mandelson. Or maybe they were concerned that she was carrying green custard in a public place. Or perhaps it was the fact that she was able to get green custard. This is ridiculous.

And it is a sign of the way things are in modern Britain. We want to increase security so that incidents do not happen. Look at all the legislation that has been passed in recent years. Of course, politicians do need some security. But one cannot stop things like this happening to politicians unless security becomes completely stifling. "Politicians used to be made of sterner stuff. No screen was erected after CS gas canisters were thrown into the debating chamber in 1970 or when manure rained down on the heads of MPs during a Scottish devolution debate in 1978," as Philip Johnston has commented.

The way Britain has traditionally dealt with crimes such as assault is to charge people who commit those crimes, not to try to ensure that it never happens again. That is as it should be. Trying to ensure that it never happens again by increasingly stepping up security will inevitably mean an increase in the surveillance state and the erosion of liberty.


patently said...

I don't recall John Prescott calling for himself to be arrested after punching someone during the 2001 election campaign. His assault caused rather more injury than a splash of custard, and a plea of self-defence would have been somewhat strained, I think.

Jonny Newton said...

Agreed. Everyone tries to find a "systemic" reason for every problem nowadays. Of course it should be possible for someone to throw custard at someone else. Of course they should be punished for doing so.

You've probably noticed that it's govt. tactics that when something goes wrong (eg. corrupt lords) they say that the system needs to be changed to distract attention from the fact that it's the Labour party's problem.

PS. I see we're both listed in 10 new blogs by Iain Dale today. Sweet.