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Tory members divided on death penalty, challenging hang 'em and flog 'em caricature

By Matthew Barrett
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NooseIn our monthly survey of grassroots opinion, we asked the question:

"In what circumstances would you support capital punishment? Please tick as many as apply."

The results were, in order of popularity:

  • For a serial killer - 46.4%
  • For a terrorist killer - 45.4%
  • In no circumstances - 39.5%
  • For the murder of a policeman - 35.6%
  • For the murder of a child - 35.5%
  • For any murder - 21.4%
The results above show a significant minority rejecting the death penalty in all circumstances, but also significant minorities in favour of the death penalty for different categories of murderers: serial killers, terrorists, child-murderers and those who kill policemen in the line of duty. None of the options gained a majority of support from readers.

An Ipsos MORI poll for Newsnight this week found public support for restoring the death penalty for child-murderers was at 62%, nearly 30% more than our grassroots survey showed. The circumstance in which capital punishment should be applied that was least popular amongst ConservativeHome readers was "for any murder". These two facts undermine the usual media caricature of the Tory grassroots as hang 'em and flog 'em reactionaries. 

David Cameron's view of the death penalty, as told to Dylan Jones in Cameron on Cameron and found by the New Statesman's George Eaton earlier this week is:

"[I]f someone murdered one of my children then emotionally, obviously I would want to kill them. How could you not? But there have been too many cases of things going wrong, of the wrong people being executed, of evidence coming to light after the execution, and sometimes there is just too much of an element of doubt. And I just don't honestly think that in a civilised society like ours that you can have the death penalty any more."

> The first results of this month's survey were published earlier: Tory members give Sayeeda Warsi a big thumbs down


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