BBC Radio 4 has given us one of the great lines of political history:
It was trailed as a "unique chance to rewrite the law of the land". Listeners to BBC Radio 4's Today programme were asked to suggest a piece of legislation to improve life in Britain, with the promise that an MP would then attempt to get it onto the statute books."The people have spoken... the bastards." I love it. Of course, our Mandarin friend was not done explaining his disdain for the electorate:
But yesterday, 26,000 votes later, the winning proposal was denounced as a "ludicrous, brutal, unworkable blood-stained piece of legislation" - by Stephen Pound, the very MP whose job it is to try to push it through Parliament.
Mr Pound's reaction was provoked by the news that the winner of Today's "Listeners' Law" poll was a plan to allow homeowners "to use any means to defend their home from intruders" - a prospect that could see householders free to kill burglars, without question.
"The people have spoken," the Labour MP replied to the programme, "... the bastards."
Having recovered his composure, Mr Pound told The Independent: "We are going to have to re-evaluate the listenership of Radio 4. I would have expected this result if there had been a poll in The Sun. Do we really want a law that says you can slaughter anyone who climbs in your window?""We are going to have to re-evaluate the listenership of Radio 4." This, after he had recovered his composure. Can you imagine a Congressman saying, "We are going to have to re-evaluate the listenership of NPR"?
As for the last part of the question, yes, that is what they really want. And rightly so. No one accidentally climbs into your house, and there are very limited circumstances under which someone doing so means anything but harm to you and your family.
The whole thing brings to mind another piece of British journalism which I mentioned here in August, Aidian Hartley's "How to Kill a Burglar" from the London Spectator. In any event, kudos to Mr. Pound for his keen wit, and shame on him for his "principles," which are both antidemocratic--respectable in a Lord, but absurd in a member of the House of Commons--and directly opposed to one of the fundamental rights of Men. The defense of those rights is the business of liberal government. Indeed, it is the whole business. Explaining morality to the people is neither part of the duty of government, nor a welcome addition.