Labour must demand the return of the rope

David Osland takes a satirical view

I was going to say that Labour’s new shadow justice secretary Steve Reed takes no prisoners in his interview with the Daily Mirror this morning. But that would be monstrously unfair; it’s clear he wants to take lots of them.

Gone at last are the ineffectual namby-pamby circumlocutions of his New Labour predecessor Jack Straw, who finally stands exposed as the bleeding heart Hampstead liberal he always was beneath the skin.

Straight-talkin’ Steve sets out a stall on law and order issues that explicitly harks back 30 years, resurrecting the slogan that first brought Tony Blair to national prominence: tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. Labour now understands people’s instinctive urge for punishment! And retribution!

Shouting slogans or changing lives? Well, few things change lives more dramatically than a stretch in the Ville, even if the changes aren’t always for the better.

Reed is particularly scathing about the Mad Man from Islington North, sharply observing: “I think when Jeremy Corbyn was the leader, we gave the impression that we were more concerned about criminals than their victims.”

And of course, the Labour left has to grant such accusations the credibility they deserve. The proliferation of groups such as Labour Friends of Armed Robbery and the Burglars in Exile Network are clear evidence of just how crim-friendly Jezza ultimately became.

The existence of #Grime4Corbyn, a network of popular music entertainers given to insistent rhythms and somewhat striking rhyming schemes, was highly publicised. Perhaps the shadowy outfit #Crime4Corbyn is less well-known.

But it remains a fact that Islington North CLP is directly funded by a rake-off from the heroin trade. Labour insiders believe Turkish drug lords will willingly pay for Corbyn’s campaign as an independent, should matters reach that sorry pass.

Some may even send armed heavies out with Corbyn’s canvassing teams, subtly emphasising to local residents that voting for the incumbent is preferable to having one’s arm broken. Especially given waiting times in A&E under the Tories.

It’s heartening to see Steve Reed’s new line already bearing fruit. Ronnie Biggs has reportedly cancelled his direct debit, and good riddance to him. He should never have been allowed to be a Labour councillor anyway.

But comrades need to look at the bigger picture. Law and order has been perceived as a Labour negative since the Kinnock era. If we are to re-emerge as a credible party of government, we need a flagship policy to neutralise those Tory attack lines.

One answer is a clear demand for the return of the death penalty. While this point remains controversial among some sections of the left, hear me out.

For starters, it’s a sure-fire vote winner. There is a huge public support for such measures. Capital punishment for terrorists, child murderers and multiple murderers have clear majority backing.

I mean, yeah, even Priti Patel has backpedalled on the support she once expressed for hanging on national television. But imagine the kudos if the Labour Party Keir Starmer leads was seen to be forcing the hand of the Tory right to legislate on this issue.

Admittedly, capital punishment will be a tough sell for some of the wussier Guardian columnists. But Polly Toynbee has always been unstinting in her argument that Labour needs to do whatever it takes to win. Once she gets her head round this, we shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

But most important of all is the symbolism. What better way to distance Labour from the virtue-signalling peacenik liberal metropolitan wokester Remainer elite?

Let us kill the notion that Labour is ‘soft on crime’, as surely as the first poor sap to fall through the trap door once the gallows are rebuilt.

Just what is wrong with allowing judges once again to enunciate those magical words “I sentence you to be hung by the neck until dead?”

Because I want that. And if you are remotely serious about a Labour victory at the next general election, so should you.

David Osland is a member of Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP and a long-time left wing journalist and author. Follow him on Twitter at @David__Osland

Image: Gallows RPG map symbol vector image. License: Public Domain.

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