Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Labour MPs' DNA test views shows their authoritarian instincts

It's often thought that the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are much easier partners than the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, that we have a lot more in common. That's not the case. Certainly there are some aspects of social policy where we agree, but philosophically, we are a million miles apart. Both Conservatives and Labour have aspects to their basic rationale which turn my Liberal Democrat blood cold.

With the Conservatives, it's their instinct to protect the rich and powerful at the expense of the vulnerable. Without the Liberal Democrats to take the sting out of them in Government, there would be absolutely no measures to help the poorest at all.

With Labour, it's the fact that they don't see people as individuals with their own minds and opinions. They just see as as an amorphous blob to be controlled, rather than trusted.

I want to see the person who murdered Bristol architect Jo Yeates behind bars. Make no mistake about that. Whoever did this needs to be locked up before they strike again. However,  I am dismayed if not surprised that Kerry McCarthy, a Bristol Labour MP, has come out and said that she would support the DNA testing of every man in Bristol if the Police thought it was appropriate. Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South, agrees with her. 

That horrifies me for two reasons. To my mind, the state should only have access to such information about you if there is actual reason to suspect that you have done wrong. Being male is not sufficient grounds as far as I'm concerned. If this was done on a voluntary basis, is the guilty person actually going to put themselves forward? Who says they live in Bristol anyway? Do you then assume that people who object to such an infringement of their rights have something to hide? Would conscientious objectors be persecuted? The implications of that approach are chilling.   Do we stop men from going out or restrict their movements just because most violent crime is committed by men? Taking DNA from the whole population is the start of a very slippery guilty until proven innocent slope and the very mention of the idea should have us up in arms at such an affront to our liberty. 

Apart from the obvious civil liberties implications, what a waste of time and resources it would be. Surely such a mass effort would be much better spent on actually trying to find the culprit. There are, according to population records, not far off half a million people in Bristol.  Around half of them will be men. So, how many people are going to collect the samples from these quarter of a million men, and get them processed. Say only a quarter of them volunteered - that's still over 60,000. The capacity of Celtic Park in Glasgow is something like 60832 (thank you, Wikipedia). Imagine that whole stadium chock a block full of people to be tested. And then you have to process the results. It would cost an absolute fortune and you may still , and in fact, I'd go as far as to say you probably will not find the killer. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agree with you on both the authoritarian issues and the sheer impracticablilty of testing the entire male population of Bristol.

But that seems typical of Labour attitudes - not only their inbuilt authoritarianism but also their total inability to plan anything.


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