Blogs Coffee House

The danger of victimhood

28 February 2014

It is 15 years since the publication of the Macpherson Report into the investigation of the death of Stephen Lawrence. The report may have done some good by making the police take crime against black people more seriously, but its main legacy is bad. Macpherson promulgated the doctrine that ‘A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.’ If the incident is thus defined then there is literally no end to racist incidents; and if the (self-defining) victims — or anyone else — can define a racist incident thus then the person alleged by them to be guilty is automatically convicted.

This principle that victimhood is self-chosen and cannot be questioned is now being applied more widely. It is the rule governing the alleged sexual assaults by the late Jimmy Savile, and it would seem to be the line of reasoning (or rather, lack of reasoning) which has brought famous people like Dave Lee Travis and Bill Roache to court. I hope it is not affecting the judgment of the Crown Prosecution Service as it forces a retrial of Travis on two of the charges. The same dogma has induced the Liberal Democrats to demand that Lord Rennard should say sorry for his supposed sexual harassment as they published a report finding no court-standard evidence against him: he was innocent until proved innocent, one might say.


Clearly there is a serious difficulty about the fact that some wrongs, especially sexual ones, are hard to prove, and so powerful people tend to escape punishment, but one does not correct past mistakes by making new, symmetrically bad ones which also go against justice.

This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes in this week’s magazine.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • CraigStrachan

    New rule: if the CPS forces a retrial and loses, the costs come out of their salaries.

  • Daniel Maris

    What you might call the “Macpherson principle” is indeed a very dangerous one. It sought to redress an imbalance and injustices. But the way to do that is to reform institutions and organisational practice not by introducing principles which weaken the founding concepts of a civil society.

  • HookesLaw

    We seem to have a new public body – ‘The Crown Persecution Service’

  • Eyesee

    The Left are constantly looking for ways to introduce a feeling of helplessness to ordinary people. That they no longer understand the country they live in and that they have no power over random, arbitrary actions by ‘the authorities’. Once hope is removed, the spirit is broken and the Left can move in to provide the strong leadership that is obviously needed. Which is when hope really vanishes! Free speech would need to be removed (thanks for your help Hacked Off), there can be no open debate on subjects of Left corruption, which is what Political Correctness is for and there will be purges to eject those not ‘on side’. Here we find the echo of ‘the science is settled’ and people who oppose Global Warming, so called sceptics, need to be removed from positions of power. How far do we propose to go down this Marxist route?

  • Noa

    The MacPhersonReport has done more damage to the British system of justice than any other single inquiry since the end of the second world war. It has been used, cynically and knowingly by politicians of all Parliamentary parties to destroy the key principle of equality before the law and to change the presumption of innocence until found guilty.

    Those who are unfamiliar with or wish to re-aquaint themselves with its malign political motivations, incoherant logic, partiality, and malign consequences for ordinary Britons can do so by reading the Civitas publications “RACIST MURDER AND PRESSURE GROUP POLITICS” and “Mind for’g Manacles”, by John Gowe Davis.

    • HookesLaw

      What a shame then that the police were ‘institutionally racist’ and failed lamentably in their investigation and apparentlky even failed to give first aid on the scene. If not then there would have been no need of a report.

      • Noa

        You should inform yourself of the facts, and consider the logical impossibility of the entire Metropolitan Police Force, its officers and ethos, being ‘institutionally racist’, before you once again so comprehensively demonstrate both your stupidity and your ignorance.

        • HookesLaw

          The BBC is institutionally left wing. This does not stop them employing Andrew Neil.

          We only need to see how the Met framed Mitchell to see how an institutionalised mindset works.

          If the police had done a proper job instead of going through the motions then there would have been no MacPherson report.

          • Noa

            It is ludicrous to compare the Mitchell affair, an isolated event, with the politically desired and implemented consequences of the MacPherson Report.

            However it could be argued, though you have not done so, that the changes which flowed from it can be argued to have created a politically correct thought police, which in the case of dishonest offiers, resulted in Mitchellgate.

            To quote from “Mind For’g Manacles”

            “…the real truth is that the accusation was never valid in the first place.Moreover, the Macpherson report had said as much:

            ‘In this Inquiry we have not heard evidence of
            overt racism or discrimination’.

            And a few paragraphs later, despite accusing the Metropolitan Police of‘institutional racism’ the report said:
            “It is vital to stress that neither academic debate nor the evidence presented to us leads us to say or to conclude thatan accusation that institutional racism exists in the MPS implies that the policies of the MPS are racist. No such evidence is before us. Indeed, the contrary is true..”

      • john p reid

        The first people on scene were off duty police who did give first aid, an ambulance turned up seconds after the first police, but if t came out that the police were institutionally racist becuase of the report, surely tatters that the inquiry had already decided to find its results before it started,such as they reckoned the right people did it go t off and that e law of double jeopardy should be changed,regarding the view that any incident has to be treated a s one ,if anyone says it is, as people like Lee jasper say black expel can’t be racists and that PC Blakelocks murder wasnt racist and that double jeopardy should only apply to certain cases, it’s not only realists ,who don’t accept all the Macperson reports findings,

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      Just read the preface to the first publication. Shocking and extremely worrying. Thanks Noa.

    • Chris Bond

      of the MacPherson Report in that first report – “The proceedings bore some resemblance to the Stalinist show trials of the 1930s.”
      Wow, I always new the whole “institutional racist” thing was bollox, but if that report is accurate, the whole thing was worse then I thought.

  • IainRMuir

    “The report may have done some good by making the police take crime against black people more seriously, but its main legacy is bad.”

    Too true it’s bad. A Martian could be forgiven for thinking that all crime victims are black. Too bad for Rhea Page, Andrew Young and others.

    • Shazza

      Don’t you know, only Whites/Christians can be racists….

      • jack mustard

        Sorry…but are you suggesting that only “Whites” can be Christian?

        • James Strong


        • Shazza

          Of course not. Where did I say that? I never said White Christians, I said ‘Whites/Christians’ using the forward slash to denote different groups. Duh.

          • jack mustard

            So are you saying a black Christian can be racist, but a black atheist can’t?

  • Makroon

    This is another silly piece by Moore. Stephen Lawrence died in a vicious racist murder.
    That has nothing at all to do with the long list of media-created “victim-heroes” (“white Dee” even received some nice puffery from this august publication !)
    The sleazy cabals in the BBC and on Coronation St. where the “victims” have been neatly forgotten and discredited, and the media-heroes appointed as the new “victims” is just the usual seamy show-business stuff. Blame the foolish CPS.

    • MikeF

      “Stephen Lawrence died in a vicious racist murder.” He died as the result of an unprovoked attack by a gang of thugs in which the colour of his skin was undoubtedly the trigger.
      But the gang who assaulted him were notorious for their indiscriminate aggression, which is why the police received several dozen items of information from the local – overwhelmingly ‘white’ – populace in the days after the murder, which meant that they very soon had the suspected assailants under close supervision. The officer leading the investigation, though, decided there was not enough evidence to justify an immediate arrest and that delay allowed the suspects to destroy material that might have provided the basis for forensic evidence. Hence the delay until more advanced techniques were developed.
      That is actually what happened – a professional misjudgement. There was no ‘institutional racism’ – that is a myth. The real reason for the death of Stephen Lawrence was the existence of a sub-culture of literally murderous amoralism that was and remains a danger to everyone – irrespective of their ethnicity.
      The left, however, recognised that the case presented an opportunity for them to misrepresent the case in a fallacious and sectarian manner in oder to reshape British law and public life in the way that Mr Moore correctly describes. The consequences have been utterly malign and there is no task in British public life more important than recognising that fact and then seeking to reverse the situation that has now developed.

      • Daniel Maris

        It’s well known some of them were members of families who constituted gangs and had police protection.

        • john p reid

          Shame there’s never been evidence of this, as it’s almost certainly true, but the police protection idea, falls falt when the footage of them being recorded undercover,a swell as racist comments they said they’d like to stab every copper,

      • IainRMuir

        A couple of decades earlier the gang members might have styled themselves as skinheads. Skinheads also had a reputation for racism but I can personally attest to the fact that, if their mood determined it, they would attack anyone within range. Part of their pathology.

        • La Fold

          Skinheads started out as white working class youths trying to copy the style they saw of recent west indian, particulary Jamaican, immigrants. The music of the times was ska, soul, lovers rock etc all which could be described as Black music. The whole racist thign didnt come along to much later.

  • Kitty MLB

    Yes, what happened to Stephen Lawrence was appalling,
    yet this gave the police and our disgraceful Leftie establishment
    to follow politically correct codswallop to a dangerous extreme,
    because of that the police had become frightened and unwilling to
    defend those under attack as in the London riot- Oh yes caused by
    another ‘ victim’ called Mark Duggan, we even had disgraceful Leftie
    apologists still treating him like a victim after the court case- shameful,
    and an example of the dangers of victimhood. It avoids responsibility,
    which is why the Left created a nation of “Victims”.

    • David Lindsay.

      I guess we all understand your thinking:

      Duggan was a criminal and deserved to be shot

      Read the facts:

      “Last month eight of the 10 jurors said Duggan had no gun in his hand when he was fatally shot…

      The Duggan family’s legal team argue that Cutler should have directed the jury that if they decided Duggan did not have a gun in his hand they could not return a verdict of lawful killing…

      V53, the police officer who fired the shots that killed Duggan… “… could not have known what the gun looked like. V53 must have been making these details up after the event, having later seen the gun”.

      They argue that V53’s belief that Duggan was holding a gun was mistaken. “V53 had a clear, unobstructed and prolonged view of what Mark was holding. There was no evidence V53 had any good reason to think Mark was holding a gun.”

      • Kitty MLB

        Do you quite honestly expect me to read anything
        from the Guardian, its not fit to be loo paper!
        I notice how quickly Lefties turn words around to fit their
        own purpose. Do you not even trust our own courts now,
        and was that an excuse to the utter violation that happened in London.

      • IainRMuir

        “Duggan was a criminal and deserved to be shot”

        More likely: “Duggan was a criminal who’d bought a gun, and who was contributing to a culture of violence and criminality that made death more or less a certainty. The death turned out to be his own”.

        To put it another way, he brought it on himself. No loss.

      • HookesLaw

        You could argue the police made a mistake, you could argue police fire arms training is pathetic. You may or may not be right. What you cannot argue is that Duggan was not in possession of a gun.

        What I find surprising about the Lee Rigby incident is that even though the murderers went for the police with knives and guns and they were shot, they were not shot dead.

      • Kennybhoy

        Troll alert, the Young Master of Lanchester is back! :-(

        • GUBU

          I for one welcome him back as an ornament to this site. ‘David Lindsay’ may be a figment of his own imagination, but he serves as a fitting reminder to us all of the dangers of taking yourself too seriously.

          • Kennybhoy


      • john p reid

        The Duggan family’s legal team argue that Cutler should have directed the jury that if they decided that Duggan did not have a gun in his hand they could no could not return. Verdict of lawful killing,

        Well the family legal team could argue that, but as the law on self defence doesn’t mean that he had to have had the gun in his hand then Cutler shouldn’t have had to tell the jury that, as that’s not the law.

        There’s no evidence for V53 had any good reason to think that mark was holding a gun,

        Art from having just bought one, carrying it in a sock in a shoe box,and the inteligence that he was carrying the gun to use it,and having just jumped out of a cab,where he moves quickly,as he’d just been holding it,

      • loftytom

        They would say that, one less crim on the streets, result.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      Not to worry, Andrew Mitchell lives.

  • swatnan

    Stephen Lawrence ….’ did some good …’? to put it mildly it changed the whole landscape! This article is the worst I’ve seen from the Spectator. It doesn’t deserve any further comment. Moore should be reprimanded.

    • Fencesitter

      Your comment is the worst I’ve seen on Spectator Blogs. Quite an achievement, really.

  • David Lindsay.

    “Clearly there is a serious difficulty about the fact that some wrongs, especially sexual ones, are hard to prove, and so powerful people tend to escape punishment, but one does not correct past mistakes by making new, symmetrically bad ones which also go against justice.”
    So Charles.
    How does this play in the witch hunt against Harman?

    • Kitty MLB

      Where is Matthew Hopkins, our very own witch finder general
      when we need him ( she will float, I just know it)
      Victimhood describes labour very well.
      May I add a witch hunt is what Andrew Mitchell had to endure.

      • David Lindsay.

        The mail set out to destroy Harman.

        • GUBU

          Where the Mail has failed, Patricia Hewitt may yet succeed.

          • David Lindsay.

            Hewitt was responsible as Gen Sec.
            The legal adviser advises when asked.

            • GUBU

              So Harriet was only following orders?

              That defence has a chequered history.

              • john p reid

                Following orders on giving legal advice, to cases of wrong doing,not backing Even campaign with statements

        • James Strong

          Did the policeman suffer abuse?
          ‘I thought you were supposed to f***ing help us’ is not the same as ‘You f***ing policemen are supposed to help us.’
          Swearing in the presence of a policeman is not the same as swearing at a policeman.

          • GUBU

            And neither is quite the same as saying ‘we want to f**k children’, which, in simple terms, is what PIE argued.

          • john p reid

            If swearing by talking to someone, isn’t swearing at someone ,I don’t know what is,

        • Noa

          You are not David Lindsay but Telemachus.

          The ignorance always shines through whatever avatar you filch.

    • gerontius

      There is no witch hunt against Harman. Just the truth coming out that’s all.

      • David Lindsay.

        There were a thousand NCCL affiliates. Harman’s role was to give legal advice when asked not to trawl through the archives.

        • GUBU

          But only one whose members publicly advocated legalizing sexual relations with children…

          Surely they must have stood out?

        • gerontius

          Ah David!
          My Party Right Or Wrong!
          I hope I never get like you.

        • HookesLaw

          Any person with a conscience would have said I want nothing to do with an organisation that has the PIE as an affiliate and resigned there and then. Harman was on a nice little earner and on her way up the greasy pole – she did not want to rock the boat.
          But the other point is Harman belongs to a Labour party whose members are happy to make personal smears against their opponents and she goes along with it despite her own past associations. Furthermore if you look in to the activities of various labour councillors over the years you will find a more direct link to this sort of vile abuse.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here