Wednesday, 21 May 2008

"...the people have spoken - the bastards!"

In December 2003, BBC Radio's Today Programme solicited ideas from its listeners for a new law. The winning proposal 'to use any means to defend their homes from intruders' was supported by 26000 votes. MP Stephen Pound, who was charged with presenting the proposal to Parliament, denounced it as "ludicrous, brutal, unworkable, bloodstained piece of legislation.... the people have spoken - the bastards!"

The proposal was probably a reaction to the conviction of Tony Martin who shot two intruders, but it highlights some important lessons for Interactive Democracy:
  1. Proposals may convey public sentiment on well publicised issues
  2. Proposals may not be written to cover loop holes, as we would expect with formal law
  3. Proposals may not be based on the full awareness of the present law and may not easily integrate with it (e.g. there is legislation about weaponry)
This highlights the need for Parliamentary review and refinement of proposals. Which may lead to a reaffirmation of the current law or, in this case, perhaps, greater clarification of the legal term "reasonable force".

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