Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones were killed by Usman Khan on 30 November on London Bridge in an attack which has been claimed by Al Qaida as its own.
About the similar but larger massacre, in Manchester, in the run-up to the 2017 election, we wrote:
“Cults of death run through the history of fascism. The Spanish Falangists (part of Franco’s forces) had the slogan Viva la Muerte, Long Live Death.
“For the death cult to reach the pitch of suicide attacks on randomly chosen civilians... (world-wide, more often what the Islamists see as the wrong sort of Muslims than non-Muslims) requires a particular mix.
“Religion: cults of martyrdom, beliefs in afterlife rewards. Despair: an across-the-board rage at the modern world. Logistics: the idea that these attacks on ‘soft’ targets bypass overwhelming military might…
“Only a rebirth of social hope can cut the roots of the vindictiveness-obsessed, death-obsessed political-Islamist movements”.
But Boris Johnson has used the incident to push for a crude “lock them up and throw away the key” policy, fraudulently claiming that Khan’s being out of jail was due to too-liberal policy of the Blair-Brown Labour government. Johnson has also used higher knife-crime figures to push for more “stop and search”.
Jack Merritt’s father Dave Merritt has written that Jack “would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against.
“What Jack would want from this is for all of us to walk through the door he has booted down, in his black Doc Martens.
“That door opens up a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key. Where we do not give indeterminate sentences, or convict people on joint enterprise.
“Where we do not slash prison budgets, and where we focus on rehabilitation not revenge. Where we do not consistently undermine our public services, the lifeline of our nation”.
Even before the London Bridge atrocity, sixteen organisations concerned with rehabilitation and crime prevention had written an open letter.
“We call on party leaders to base policies and announcements on the evidence. The evidence on desistance [getting people to move away from crime] is clear: it must include a sense of hope and confidence in a better future; positive and collaborative relationships based on respect; social networks; testing new identities like being a student, an employee, or a parent; and recognition of what people can contribute to their community”.
They were citing evidence published by the Tory government itself on its official.gov.uk website.
The USA has 655 per 100,000 population in jail, five times more than England (140), and more than ten times more than many European countries.
It has far more incidents of mass random killing than any other country. Its homicide rate is more than ten times England’s.
The Trump-Johnson approach doesn’t “work”. It increases the pool of social despair from which the Al Qaida types draw.