UK Politics

Justice for the Innocent

This piece was originally published as a blog post by René Cassin.   Who is at the centre of Britain’s Modern Slavery Act: slaves or their captors? When only 4.9 per cent of the compensation awarded in such cases is passed onto victims, as The Times claimed yesterday, we can’t help but wonder. This is what happens when priorities are skewed towards criminal justice and away from community care. Legislation that has upgraded modern slavery into a serious crime has had the added effect of encouraging prosecutions at the expense of caring for victims – in this case, quite literally. Crackdowns on gangs and traffickers provide the instant gratification that long-term rehabilitation of victims does not. We’ve seen it all before, only in a different context: the war on drugs, where the capture of cartel kingpins is taken as an unequivocal sign of success. We should be concerned, because how we start …

The Great British break-off

It’s no longer fashionable to wonder whether the latest Great British sporting achievement might—in fact—be the last. Yet as Andy Murray, a Scot in Saltire blue, chipped the ball delicately over the head of David Goffin to claim Britain’s first Davis Cup for 79 years, that insistent question was the only thing that returned. For the team of two Scots and two Englishmen had prevailed on Belgian soil, in the heartland of the European Union: the place that is likely to be pivotal in determining whether there will still be a British team at international championships like this in 79 years’ time. The ‘Scottish question’ was answered over a year ago in a September 2014 referendum, with around 55 per cent of those north of Berwick-upon-Tweed voting to stay in the United Kingdom. Despite this, David Cameron’s election promise of a referendum on EU membership—prompted largely by Euroscepticism both within …

…up in a puff of smoke

It probably came as a surprise to most to see that The Economist’s ‘Country of the Year’ for 2013 was Uruguay.  Their decision was in no small part down to the nation’s recent move to regulate the production, sale and consumption of cannabis. “Prohibition”, observed the late American economist Milton Friedman, “is an attempted cure that makes matters worse—for both the addict and the rest of us.”  It’s time for the industry to be decriminalised and regulated, not because drug taking is acceptable, but because drugs create a problem too complicated to leave to the black market. Think of a friend who desperately wants to use cannabis but who doesn’t use it because it’s illegal.  Stumped?  That’s no surprise.  Whether they’re prohibited or regulated, those who want to take drugs will.  All we do by banning cannabis is shove them into the open arms of dealers, and hamstring society’s ability to …