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I am utterly against the death penalty and will oppose it with every breath in my body. I could not care less if a majority wants it, for it is morally wrong.

Pro-life from conception to natural death.


Neither the Pope nor most moral theologians believe capital punishment is morally wrong.

We should instead debate whether it is the correct solution to our present crime wave.

It is undeniable that life is cheap these days, and I would be interested how you would propose to change our criminal justice system to ensure that the taking of an innocent human life (important for a pro-lifer like yourself surely) is seen by all for the heinous crime it is.


It's nice to see such a well thought out and rational argument there. Congratulations. Have a cigar.

I have a horrible idea that this thread will run and run, but never get anywhere useful or constructive. I fear that we're in for a lot of hot air, prejudice, vitriol, fuzzy thinking and nonsense being talked in here.

However it might be an idea to pose the question in the next Members' Survey - it would again be interesting to know how 'typical' we are of party opinion (according to this poll).


Whilst it is true that the DP is not an absolute moral wrong like abortion, it nevertheless may never be used when there are other sufficient means to protect society, since these are more in keeping with human dignity. The times when it may be used in the modern world are so rare as to be non-existent in any practical sense.

One way to change the justice system would be to ensure that criminals serve the sentences they are dealt. This is part of social justice. Remember the scandal of the spokeman for the July 7th victims who was revealed to have taken part in a gang rape of two 16 year old girls? For this heinous crime he received seven years and served only a fraction of that. As a woman this horrifies me. Yesterday it was revealed that a man who had killed three little children whilst babysitting them and impaling them on railings is being allowed out unsupervised and despite his life sentence for multiple child murder is to be released. Again, maybe my position as a young mother colours my views here, but why is this man allowed to walk three? Three slaughtered, terrified babies.

This is absolutely unjust. It must stop.

oh. I put a correction in brackets, clearly the code read it as nothing. I meant to say 'and then impaled them' of course.


I'm glad we are agreed that the death penalty is not an absolute moral wrong.

We can agree also that sentences dealt should be largely served in full. However, with the prison system a cross between a holiday camp and a madhouse (e.g. providing hard-core pornography to sex offenders because Human Rgihts legislation permits it) I am not convinced that 12-14 years inside for the taking of human life is justice. Perhaps that's why the murder rate in this country has increased sharply over the past 40 years.

Reasonable, you need to convince me as to what practical measures you propose, in the absence of the death penalty, to reverse this trend and protect innocent human life to provide a safe and just society in which to live.

Ah, the death penalty returns... This one will run and run.

So it was morally wrong to put Hitler and co. to death, was it? So what will happen to Saddam Hussein (should he be found guilty) if David Cameron has his way? There are some offences against mankind that in order to preserve our dignity only the death penalty can alleviate the pain and obscenity of the act of murder. Only then can justice be done.
Before the DP was abolished in 1967 murder and gun crimes were rare events. Those crimes have since steadily increased and so have charges of manslaughter.
I am not surprised that the percentage in favour of the DP has lessened. The media and in my opinion the PC BBC have done much to publicise their stance against DP. Until it is restored for certain categories of murder and drug running those crimes will become more prevalent. Punishment that fits the crime is needed and not the misplaced "compassion" culture of the liberals

Provided we can be absolutely certain that we have convicted the right person, I see nothing wrong with the death penalty for murder, where there are no special mitigating circumstances. Of course we know that whatever our views, the death penalty is not likely to come back in the near future, as the EU will not allow it, and there is not thought to be a majority of MPs in favour of it. Therefore it is not a live issue which separates us from the Lib Dems.

However the question of proportional representation is such an issue, and I hope we would still be opposed to that. Perhaps it would be more relevant to discuss that.

How controversial. The Death Penalty. If someone is given a life sentence (and by that I mean a real life sentence, not one of those "he'll get life" ie. 7 years [if that]) then what is the point of them continuing to exist inside a prison? They are a burden to the tax payer for the rest of their life and a waste of prison space. No doubt the reason for that person getting life is because they have committed some heinous crime, rape, murder, etc. The only type of person likely to receive capital punishment would be the Ian Huntley’s of this world and other criminal scum. The most serious offenders. Why anyone would want to “protect” the life of these sorts of people is quite beyond me.

The only problems arise with those who might be “innocent” and yet convicted. Since forensic evidence is becoming more conclusive with every passing day, and the death sentence would only be used in a “beyond any reasonable doubt” situation, the chances of getting the wrong person would be very slim – compared to the year when it was banned.

We shouldn’t be banning certain things because people morally object to it. Look at foxhunting, abortion etc. It causes more problems than it solves.

Hardly an issue that might cause a great divide between the two parties when it comes to Cameron wooing. Since the Conservatives don’t have any plans to re-instate the death penalty, this poll is irrelevant.

As Conservative fortunes improve and moderate voters return, this figure will head back towards 50:50.

The death penalty is as barbaric as chopping hands off thieves.

It stops reoffending just as effectively, too!

Never put your life, or anyone else's, in the hands of politicians, buteaucrats or judges!

A word of caution about the Yougov survey (which, interestingly enough, isn't yet up on their website). The results of the police question may reflect changing attitudes to the police as much as the death penalty.

Did Yougov ask whether people supported capital punishment for child murderers like Huntley? That's the most revealing question to ask because it's the one most likely to solicit a positive response. That way one can see how large the 'not in any circumstances' lobby really is.

I'd say that to still have a majority in favour of the rope after forty years of relentless Establishment propaganda is a remarkable testament to the resilience and clear headedness of ordinary people.

I don't have a theoretical or moral objection to the death penalty - rather a practical one. It simply isn't worth the risk of killing innocent people, and it does not reduce the crime rate one jot.

Instead we need more honesty in sentencing. David Davies made an excellent point on his blog about life meaning life. If someone is going to be released in 14 years, they should be sentenced to 14 years, not "life" which clearly isn't true. Serious offenders should be sentenced to life, and it should mean life.

Mark is absolutely right that as the appeal of the Party broadens the proportion of Conservative voters supporting the death penalty will reduce. It is telling that Liberal Democrat voters - who are still disproportionately former Conservatives and traditional liberals despite the make-up of the LibDem grassroots - have a significant majority against the death penalty. We need those voters back.

"It stops reoffending just as effectively, too!"

It's also an effective way of managing the prison population.

Yet another poll indicating that public support for a Conservative Party position is higher than public support for the Conservative Party. Why is it the party can't capitalize on such support? And why dream of poaching LibDem voters when it is the much greater numbers of pro-death penalty Labour voters who should be the primary target?

I am very much in favour of the death penalty for treason/terrorism, for symbolic reasons as much as anything else.

If Osama Bin Laden turned up on our shores, what could we do? We could not sentence him to death, even though that is what justice (and security) would demand. We could not extradite him to America (EU rules) because they have the death penalty and would want to use it.

The result would be a symbol of our weakness to the Islamic world.

I'd have a lot of sympathy with the death penalty if I knew innocent people would never go down. But I just don't think that's the case. I do think the supposed 'life' sentences are appalling. Life should mean life -- not a decade or so. Campaigning for the death sentence at this stage would strike me as quite a New Labourish thing: "oh, we can't manage the old system effectively... let's tear it up and bring in a new, more authoritarian system which we won't manage effectively."

The death penalty was always pretty tokenistic in this country, in the twentieth century; on average there were about 12 executions a year, up to 1957, and about 4 a year after that (up till 1965). Then as now, most convicted murderers had their Death Sentences commuted to Life Imprisonment, which often meant release after 10 years or so.

I don't see anything morally objectionable about the Death Penalty (it's much more moral to execute a convicted murderer than it is to, say, bomb civilians), but I'd just question whether it would make that much difference.

A Whole Life Sentence in every case of murder would not be right IMO. There are degrees of badness. Someone who tortures someone to death for kicks should never be let out; but someone who gets into an argument, loses control and lashes out, and is then horrified to find he has a corpse at his feet, ought not to be locked up for life.

Guys and girls,

This can argument can never be clear cut. Surely one's view on capital punishment must be coloured by one's view on the legitimacy of war. Just to point out one hypocrisy - how can it be justified to drop bombs from the sky on Iraqi cities in the sure knowledge that there will be "collateral human damage" whilst at the same time asserting that it is "immoral" to kill a convicted killer following the due process of law in domestic courts.

I, along with most conservatives I would have thought, argue that a properly constituted state has a monopoly over the legitimate means of violence, and has a moral obligation to use force to protect its citizens either in defence against foreign enemies or to maintain domestic law & order.

Unless one is a true anarchist, one must accept this argument, and therefore accept that there are circumstances when it is justifiable for the state to kill one of its own citizens in order to protect others. Where to draw the line is a difficult question of judgement. But that there is no line to draw and that all killing is wrong is simply naive dreaming!

Sean Fear is right in pointing out that not every "murder" is the same and indeed, some "murderers" might barely justify custodial sentences.
Surely though, if the Justice system is to have a deterrent effect, there must be some linkage between the crime and the severity of its consequences. If someone is prepared to go and take a life, they should be made to recognise that their own life could be forfeit.
It’s all very well to oppose the death penalty on the grounds that innocent people could be executed. That is a grievous miscarriage of justice which also leaves the real culprit untouched. However, what about the other innocents victims of killers who are released and kill again? Isn’t that a miscarriage of at least the same magnitude?
There seem to be two overlapping opponents to the death penalty: those who fear a mistake and those who refuse to acknowledge any level of offence, be it one murder or serial murders like those committed by Fred West, that would ever justify a death sentence, as a matter of principle.

Capital Punishment is a stain on humanity. The state never ever has the right to kill its citizens at any point no matter the circumstances.


I don't support capital punishment, but your argument is shaky. The state certainly has the right to kill one of its citizens hell-bent on crashing an aeroplane into a towerblock if that's the only way of stopping him.

Like a couple of posters so far I would like to see the death sentence for certain crimes when we are certain of guilt. I have yet to see however, any way of being sure enough of guilt in the vast majority of cases for this to work. I would like to see life mean life (for most murders) first before we start to seriously look at returning the death sentence.

>>Capital Punishment is a stain on humanity. The state never ever has the right to kill its citizens at any point no matter the circumstances.<<

Who says? Presumably not God, since the sacred books of all the chief monotheistic religions justify execution by the state.

What you really mean to say is that you personally find it distasteful, but if you are a democrat you will surely respect the majority view on this issue.

Back in the sixties I used to oppose capital punishment for all the usual reasons. But there's no getting away from the fact that the homicide rate has trebled since abolition.

Mistakes? Yes, but people used to argue that when the occasional innocent man hanged, he was "dying for his country". His guiltless death was the price of deterrence so that hundreds of other innocents might live.

Now we seem to be saying that all those hundreds of extra murder victims are worth it, so the rest of us can avoid executing anyone: they are dying for their country's sensibilities.

What price a human life?

Wat, I'm not convinced about the logic of your argument. London murder rates doubled in 2001 - without any change in the law to cause that doubling.

Mike Smith: Democratic elections gave the world Hitler. Majority rule isn't always correct: just mighty. Plenty of things have been done in the name of the majority against the minority I don't like, from segregation in America down to fox hunting recently. A democratic majority is not in itself enough to justify a return of the death penalty. (In any event, it appears that there are now more people anti- than pro- the death penalty).

Even where the death penalty is out-of-the-question proportionate to the crimes -- people like Huntley, bin Laden etc. -- I wonder if it's wise to execute these people. What if it emerges in twenty years time that one of these people knows something in connection to another crime?

"Mike Smith: Democratic elections gave the world Hitler. Majority rule isn't always correct: just mighty."

No they didn't. The Nazi party never gained the plurality of the vote, and had actually passed their peak when Hitler was offered the post of Chancellor (their vote was down on the preceding election). Back room deals and bad judgement on the part of the governing parties delivered a Nazi government, not democracy or majortity rule.

Oh, and Godwin.

"...someone who gets into an argument, loses control and lashes out, and is then horrified to find he has a corpse at his feet, ought not to be locked up for life."

This hypothetical person ought not to be locked up for life because the facts as you've laid them out are insufficiently clear to show whether he's even guilty of murder at all. It's possible, but the scenario could just as easily be manslaughter, depending on the exact circumstances.

"The Nazi Party never gained the plurality of the vote..." Actually, it did. It elected the most members of parliament of any German political party in 1932 and 1933, the former election being held under the auspices of an anti-Hitler government. Unfortunately, democracy (as actually practiced, with the accompanying backroom deals) DID produce a Hitler.

"Actually, it did"

Sorry, I meant "majority". Democracy did not produce the Nazis. They did not have the support in the Reichstag or the country to form a government. Their vote was actually in decline before they were invited into a coalition (down 5% and 2,000,000). So they weren't actually put into office by the people, but rather by the backroom deals of failing coalition. That's not the fault of "democracy" - that's the fault of those politicians and a badly designed constitutional framework.

James, go and check your history. In the German 1933 elections the Nazi party gained about 44-45% of the vote, due in part to the Reichstag fire which lower the Social Democrat Party's popularity. This huge democratic victory allowed Hitler to pass the Enabling Act which effective make him a dictator.

Chris, I don't need to go and check my history. That election was after the Nazis had been delivered into government by coalition politics, and the resultsw were only possible because of the scope this gave for abusing the system.

Even then they did not achieve a majority of seats and had to rule as a coalition.

My point stands that if Von Papen and Hindenberg had held out a little longer then the Nazis may never have been returned to government.

Now buzz off anf patronise someone else.

"My point stands that if Von Papen and Hindenberg had held out a little longer then the Nazis may never have been returned to government."

The point could only "stand" if you'd mentioned it in the first place. This is the first time you have said anything about Von Papen and Hindenberg.

Yes, the Nazi did have to work with other parties to form a majority Government, but this was democratically done. Are you therefore saying that coalitions are not democratic?

"This is the first time you have said anything about Von Papen and Hindenberg."

Only if they were somehow not involved in the backroom deal that invited Hitler into government.

"the Nazi did have to work with other parties to form a majority Government, but this was democratically done."

No, the election of the representatives is democratic, but I wouldn't say the same for the formation of the government. Majority rule is usually a component in most defintions of democracy.

I'd also say that corrupt elections conducted in climates of violence and intimidation, as the 1933 ones were, can hardly be held up as examples of "democracy".

James, when was the last time a government in Britain was elected with 50% of the vote? According to your logic, there hasn't been a democratically elected government in Britain (or Canada or Germany or ....) in decades.

Bruce, that's why the system of government is more accurately called "representative democracy". We elect representatives, they make the government. Or as Lord Hailsham used to say, we live in an elective dictatorship.

In general election of March 5th 1933 the Nazi Party saw a 10%+ increase in their votes - insufficient for a plurality but as you say by then forming alliances with the Catholic & later the conservative parties were able to move towards a dictatorship. It was all done in accordance with a democratic constitution and the coalition represented a majority of the electorate.

All very "democratic" except that shortly before the election, in response to the Reichstag Fire, Hitler was able to convince Hindenburg to curtail civil liberties in response to the "terrorist threat " - this weakened the left wing opposition (many communists arrested before the election) and laid the foundations for eventual dictatorship.

It shows how fragile civil rights, justice and freedom of thought and speech are and how through curtailing these a democracy can be subverted.

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