jon venables, the lynch mob and our ‘broken society’

by Adam Ford

In 1993, two year old James Bulger from Kirkby near Liverpool was abducted, tortured and murdered by two ten year olds, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. The horrific case provoked understandable revulsion from the general public. Politicians gleefully seized on it to further their own agendas. Then Shadow Home Secretary Tony Blair promised that a Labour government would be “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”, marking the beginning of New Labour’s attempts to outflank the Conservatives to the right on ‘law and order’, which had long been considered the Tory Party’s own territory. John Major responded by declaring that Britain should “condemn a little more, and understand a little less”. As we know, once in power, Blair focused on the second clause of his soundbite.

Perhaps for Merseysiders in particular, our horror was not at the killing itself, but that we now lived in a society that could produce such ‘monsters’ (as they were routinely labelled by the media). I was only ten – the same as Thompson and Venables – but I remember that my mum still warned me to be “extra careful” on the streets. Fear stalked the land. Continue reading “jon venables, the lynch mob and our ‘broken society’”

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a death in the community

by Joe Thorne

On Friday night, at around 1am and at the bottom of my road in Hackney, Jahmal Mason-Blair was stabbed in the neck and dead within the hour.   He was 17, the ninth teenager murdered this year on the streets of London.  The boy who has been arrested for Jahmal’s killing is 13 years old.

At a nearby  cafe yesterday morning, Jahmal’s murder was still on the minds of locals.  Jahmal was what they call a ‘good kid’.  A talented, ambitious footballer, someone who knew where he was going.  People say he was trying to break up a fight.  But the talk in the cafe is all about punishment; capital punishment, preferably.  I point out that they have capital punishment in the US, and it’s worse there.  Nobody listens.  One guy tries to talk about prison; but others pipe up about not wanting their taxes to go to buy food for the prisoners, let alone Playstations.  “If I could, I’d get a machine gun…” are the last words I hear as I walk out the door.

jahmal-mason-blair-tributes Continue reading “a death in the community”