One of last week’s biggest events was the rise of Transylvania’s finest to the top of Britain’s fifth-most-sensible political party (the official ranking goes Lib Dem – Labour – Green – Monster Raving Loony – Tory – UKIP – BNP, in case you were wondering).
This has sparked a great debate on dealing-with-crime strategies. Should we lock everyone up and throw away the keys (until the only remaining crime is key-littering) – or should we send rapists on free Club 18-30 holidays (where nobody will notice them, or object even if they do)?
Since everyone’s been having this argument since forever, or possibly longer, little new was said this week. People on the right pointed to the way crime fell under Mr Howard’s stewardship. People on the left talked about the reduction in economic inequality that took place at the same time.
People on the right pointed to America, where they lock everyone up who’s black and lots of people who aren’t, and which had lower overall crime than the UK last year. People on the left pointed to mainland Europe, where they don’t lock many people up at all and have long had much lower crime than the UK.
Overall, it looks like there are two hard-to-contest points. One is that to some extent, prison works. It’s very, very, very expensive and it turns the people who go to it into much worse criminals than they were beforehand – but it keeps them out of circulation meantime and deters some people from doing crimes.
The other is that (unless you’re a sick bastard who enjoys seeing people suffer for the hell of it) any solution that works as well as (or better than) prison but has a lower financial and/or human cost is clearly far better.
This raises the question of why people in Europe are so much better than us at not doing crime and at not locking everyone up in jail. The completely obvious answer is “greater equality of income” – but right-wingers tend to deny that one exists at all. However, I can also think of a few potential alternatives:
1) British people are genetically programmed to be bad
This would explain high crime rates in the UK and in America, where most people are of part-British descent. If this were the case, the best solution would be to encourage immigration – particularly from low-crime India and China – and discourage British people from breeding.
2) The European justice system is far better than the UK system
If this were the case, the reason for the difference would be clear. The remedy would also be clear: ignore the Eurosceptics and sign up for everything the EU has to teach us.
3) European leaders set a better example
In mainland Europe, with the exception of mafia don Silvio Berlusconi, political leaders tend to be averse to fighting – both Prescott-style, and in terms of going to war. Maybe if our Blessed Leader were less gung-ho about using violence to solve his problems, British youth would follow suit.
I’m not convinced any of these are right – but I’d appreciate any more possible reasons (just thought of another – the Evil Corrupt Europeans are cooking the statistics: actually, Europe is a hotbed of crime, sin, murder and vice….). While it’s amusing as a pro-European to see an issue where mainland Europe pisses all over Anglo-America, it would be nice to have less crime and less prison. And if the only explanation is income equality, then maybe we should have some more of it?