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LEO McKINSTRY: Sorry not to join the liberal wailing: heroin traffickers deserve to die|
By Leo Mckinstry ; The Daily Mail
Last updated at 5:25 PM on 29th December 2009
This morning, barring an unlikely last-minute reprieve, convicted drug smuggler Akmal Shaikh was executed by firing squad, having been found guilty of trying to bring 4kg of heroin into China.
His case has prompted outrage in this country from politicians and from the trendy metropolitan elite, for whom drug use is a fashionable habit rather than serious criminal offence.
Yet for all this orchestrated wailing, is it not possible that China is right to put Shaikh to death?
Death penalty: Akmal Shaikh was caught with 4kg of heroin
Indeed, I would argue that Britain's enfeebled, self-destructive approach to narcotics has been graphically highlighted by China's ruthlessness in tackling drug pushers.
In contrast to New Labour's policy of appeasement and surrender, the Chinese Government acts vigorously to defend its people from the misery caused by the drugs trade.
My regret is not over tough action by Beijing, but the fact that we in this country do not possess the moral clarity or strength of purpose to deal ruthlessly with drug peddlers and other enemies of our society.
A bankrupt with a chequered financial history, a tangled personal life, and an obsession with easy money, Shaikh was arrested with heroin worth a cool £250,000 in his suitcase.
As the Chinese police point out, this is a big enough amount to have killed 27,000 people.
In China, the death penalty can be invoked against anyone carrying more than 50g of drugs - and that is one obvious reason why China, proportionally, has nothing like the drugs problem that we have in Britain.
Serious dealers and abusers know they could be looking down the barrel of a gun if they are caught.
It is the height of hypocrisy for the Labour government, the human rights brigade and celebrity loudmouths to lecture China when Britain's own strategy has failed so disastrously.
A country that reveres such junkies as Kate Moss has no right to lecture China on its drugs policy, argues Leo McKinstry
Thanks to the climate of institutionalised leniency, our society is awash with drugs, bringing widespread crime, violence and family breakdown in their wake.
Dealers and users conduct their business knowing they have absolutely nothing to fear from our courts. Far from condemning cannabis and cocaine, our achingly liberal youth culture glamorises their possession.
Vacuous supermodel Kate Moss was caught using cocaine by undercover reporters, most of the fashion world rallied behind her with a sense of moral indignation, protecting her lucrative contracts and behaving as though she were a victim.
In showbusiness circles there was speculation for a long time that cocaine was not Kate's only drug of choice - that she had also smoked heroin and crack cocaine.
Nor has Moss's former boyfriend, musician Pete Doherty, ever received a meaningful sentence, despite repeated convictions for misuse and other criminal behaviour.
In 2007, for instance, he was spared jail over a string of offences and was even allowed by Judge Jane McIvor, who claimed to be a fan of his music, to delay a court hearing.
Similarly, drug-addled singers Amy Winehouse and George Michael have been lionised by the music establishment.
British officialdom now adopts a simpering indulgence towards drug abuse. Politicians line up to boast how much cannabis they smoked in their youth and downgrade the criminal classification of substances.
Instead of locking up offenders, the Government wastes a fortune of taxpayers' money on non-judgmental propaganda like the useless television adverts from the £2.2million Frank campaign.
Public funds are lavished on rehabilitation schemes, all of which have failed to prevent a dramatic rise in abuse.
Unlike China with its firing squads, the only 'shooting galleries' we have in Britain are state-run needle exchanges for junkies.
Outrageously, self-inflicted drug addiction is now regarded by the welfare state as a disability, entitling claimants to generous payouts of at least £110 a week. In effect, the Government requires taxpayers to subsidise criminal drug habits. It's estimated no fewer than 267,000 serious drug users live on social security.
In contrast to China, our criminal justice system no longer treats offending seriously. Criminals walk free, community punishments are meaningless, jail sentences, even for murder, are derisory.
Ordinary citizens are constantly bullied through a plethora of bureaucratic regulations, yet violence, burglary, theft and drug abuse carry no consequences.
One key factor behind modern Britain's reluctance to uphold the law is the belief that criminals are really victims of society, motivated only by social disadvantage or mental health problems and that they need support not punishment.
We can see this clearly in the case of Akmal Shaikh. Campaigners on his behalf claim he was suffering from mental illness at the time of his visit to China and so should be let off.
Such excuse-making is absurd. His record of infidelity, sexual harassment and dubious business conduct suggest he was amoral, selfish, and irresponsible.
He was once fined £10,000 for hounding a woman he had recruited as his secretary, while it is telling that his former first wife refused to join the campaign for a reprieve.
The hysteria over Shaikh's death penalty echoes the preposterous outcry in 2002 over another British man who was executed by a foreign government.
A career thug, drug addict and alcoholic, Tracy Housel was put to death by the U.S. state of Georgia for raping and killing a woman, Jeanne Drew, whose body was so badly battered she could be identified only by dental records.
Once again, there were the interventions by the Labour Government. Once again, there were the claims of mental illness, with Housel said to be suffering from brain damage and hypoglycaemia, though this hardly explained his record of extreme violence.
Once again there was the tenuous nature of the defendant's links with Britain, which hardly justified the energy the Government spent on his case. Housel, born in Bermuda, had never actually set foot in this country.
Similarly Shaikh, born in Pakistan, spent much of his adult life in the U.S. and Poland before going on his criminal odyssey to China. Neither of these men could demonstrate any real commitment or connection to Britain.
The British government, with its prattle about human rights, likes to think a refusal to use capital punishment is a badge of a civilised society. The truth is the willingness to execute dangerous criminals is a sign of compassion. It means a government is determined to protect the vulnerable and maintain morality.
It is no coincidence Britain was at its most peaceful and crime-free in the Forties and Fifties, when we still had the death penalty.
'The gentleness of English civilisation is its most marked characteristic,' wrote George Orwell during the war, a remark that seems laughable now, though we think of ourselves morally superior.
Between 1950 and 1957, the number of murders in Britain never rose above 180. The annual average in recent years is over 900.
Overall crime has also shot up since we abolished capital punishment. Since the Fifties, the number of recorded crimes has increased more than tenfold, up from 438,000 in 1955 to 4.8 million in 2008.
This is because the removal of the death penalty has had a downward ratchet effect.
Since murderers could no longer be hanged, sentences for all other crimes had to be lowered commensurately. The result is the near-anarchy we see today, where serial offenders continually escape custody and rates of violent crime soar.
There is nothing barbaric about the death penalty. The real barbarism lies in refusing to punish criminals.
The drug-fuelled, crime-ridden, welfare-dependent, fear-filled inner city housing estate in modern Britain is far more savage than any place of execution in China for a trafficker of human misery.