Race and conviction

I am slightly hesitant about commenting on the Stephen Lawrence convictions.  In part, this is because there is little to say at face value.  But I am always a little wary of any convictions supported (even pre-empted) by The Daily Mail and the police – why is everyone so certain about the two convicted and the other three that ‘got away’.  I don’t want to spin conspiracy theories, but let us hope that the jurors thought long and hard about the evidence.  Similar levels of certainty surrounded the convictions of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four in the 1970s.  The police were under pressure to get convictions then as well.

And then, within 24 hours, the police are using the case to argue for more resources.  The ‘crack squad’ that caught these two (they took 18 years) are to be disbanded because of cuts.  Save their jobs or the other three will go free!!  Rubbish.  If, as we are also told, murder rates have declined in London, a cut in the numbers of officers investigating the crime would make sense – there are other priorities.  Or should London police still be geared up to investigate cattle rustling,  just in case?

And then, instead of debating the state of race politics and racial violence in the UK (good headlines from The Independent yesterday), the press turn on Diane Abbott.  It seems to me that she is now a victim of exactly the divide and rule tactics she suggested were used.  Instead of using the word ‘white’, she might have been more tempered in her language – and even then, I am not in agreement with her.  But look at the record and you will scratch your head.  Why is she vilified now?  Why are we even talking about it?

Less reaction, more consideration and understanding might be in order all around.

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1 Response to “Race and conviction”


  1. 1 Jack January 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Complicated stuff, Mike. Yes let’s hope the jury thought long and hard and weighed up the prosecution and defense arguments carefully. Injustices happen, in both directions, let’s hope this wasn’t one, but this is our system and it has delivered a verdict. Personally, I’d prefer the French inquisitorial system over our adversarial system but I couldn’t say whether that would be less reliable.
    No surprise that the Police (like every other public bureaucracy) would grasp any opportunity to maximise its budget but surely no significant link to the Lawrence verdicts … ?
    Regarding Diane Abbott, tricky. She is guilty of an error of judgement in her communication of ideas which I think most of us would agree with. But the error was one of language which cannot be interpreted as other than racial prejudice and stereotyping. We cannot defend her choice of words (and words is how she makes her living) and then attack the casual, careless racism of others in the public sphere. We must condemn even-handedly and she does herself no favour by grasping for Suarez-like obfuscation and disingenuousness.


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