Wednesday 27 February 2019


I just watched Alfred Hitchcock's third talkie, “Murder” (1930). 

Plot spoiler alert! 

The murderer is a transvestite who kills to prevent his dark secret being revealed: that though he passes for white he is a half-caste. 

How beguiling the repressed, class conscious England of 1930 seems, still more than half Victorian.

The story hinges on a poor young woman condemned to be hanged, for a murder the half-caste man committed, and the actor manager, who sat on the jury that found her guilty, who sets out to clear her name. 

Although it may seem wrong to many readers that murderers nowadays serve only fourteen years rather than be executed, the horror of miscarriages of justice is a reminder of why hanging is something which we are better off without. 

That and the lack of proof that the death penalty deters.

Though I remember Arthur Latham, who was the last Labour MP in to vote in favour of hanging, saying in the House that he had opposed hanging until he spoke to a prisoner who told him that had hanging been the penalty for murder that would have deterred him.

The British House of Commons no longer has periodical debates on this issue, as EU law no longer permits member countries to decide this issue for themselves. Even people like me who have always opposed hanging should hugely regret this.

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