Theresa May is consulting on a new domestic abuse law. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Theresa May's plans for writing a new domestic abuse offence into law

The Home Secretary is consulting on creating a new crime of domestic abuse.

Ministers at the Home Office are considering a new crime of domestic abuse, to specifically cover non-violent abuse in relationships.

The new proposals, published today, are designed to criminalise people who bully, control, or cause psychological harm to their partners. According to the Telegraph, jailable offences could involve humiliating or intimidating one’s partner, keeping them away from other people, or restricting their access to money – though the exact terms of the crime, which will be known as domestic abuse, have not yet been defined.

There are existing laws that cover coercive and intimidating behaviour, but this consultation, published by the Home Office here, is to seek views on “whether the current law on domestic abuse needs to be strengthened to offer better protection to victims”.

May commented that domestic abuse is “not just about violence”.

“Within every community there are people living in fear of those closest to them.

“The terrifying reality is that for the most part these appalling crimes happen behind closed doors. We must bring domestic abuse out into the open and send a clear message that it is wrong to put your partner or your family in fear.”

Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid has welcomed the consultation, its chief executive Polly Neate pointing out that, “two women a week are killed by domestic violence, and in our experience of working with survivors, coercive controlling behaviour is at the heart of the most dangerous abuse”.

Although this development is a step forward for the government in defining and strengthening domestic abuse law, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has responded that, “Theresa May just isn’t doing enough to reverse the backwards slide in action against domestic violence or support for victims on her watch.”

Cooper pointed out the cuts to refuge services under this government, and the falling number of prosecutions and convictions as a proportion of recorded crimes of domestic violence, arguing that, “May has repeatedly dragged her feet on action to tackle domestic abuse”.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

Wikipedia.
Show Hide image

No, Jeremy Corbyn did not refuse to condemn the IRA. Please stop saying he did

Guys, seriously.

Okay, I’ll bite. Someone’s gotta say it, so really might as well be me:

No, Jeremy Corbyn did not, this weekend, refuse to condemn the IRA. And no, his choice of words was not just “and all other forms of racism” all over again.

Can’t wait to read my mentions after this one.

Let’s take the two contentions there in order. The claim that Corbyn refused to condem the IRA relates to his appearance on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme yesterday. (For those who haven’t had the pleasure, it’s a weekly political programme, hosted by Sophy Ridge and broadcast on a Sunday. Don’t say I never teach you anything.)

Here’s how Sky’s website reported that interview:

 

The first paragraph of that story reads:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised after he refused five times to directly condemn the IRA in an interview with Sky News.

The funny thing is, though, that the third paragraph of that story is this:

He said: “I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”

Apparently Jeremy Corbyn has been so widely criticised for refusing to condemn the IRA that people didn’t notice the bit where he specifically said that he condemned the IRA.

Hasn’t he done this before, though? Corbyn’s inability to say he that opposed anti-semitism without appending “and all other forms of racism” was widely – and, to my mind, rightly – criticised. These were weasel words, people argued: an attempt to deflect from a narrow subject where the hard left has often been in the wrong, to a broader one where it wasn’t.

Well, that pissed me off too: an inability to say simply “I oppose anti-semitism” made it look like he did not really think anti-semitism was that big a problem, an impression not relieved by, well, take your pick.

But no, to my mind, this....

“I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”

...is, despite its obvious structural similarities, not the same thing.

That’s because the “all other forms of racism thing” is an attempt to distract by bringing in something un-related. It implies that you can’t possibly be soft on anti-semitism if you were tough on Islamophobia or apartheid, and experience shows that simply isn’t true.

But loyalist bombing were not unrelated to IRA ones: they’re very related indeed. There really were atrocities committed on both sides of the Troubles, and while the fatalities were not numerically balanced, neither were they orders of magnitude apart.

As a result, specifically condemning both sides as Corbyn did seems like an entirely reasonable position to take. Far creepier, indeed, is to minimise one set of atrocities to score political points about something else entirely.

The point I’m making here isn’t really about Corbyn at all. Historically, his position on Northern Ireland has been pro-Republican, rather than pro-peace, and I’d be lying if I said I was entirely comfortable with that.

No, the point I’m making is about the media, and its bias against Labour. Whatever he may have said in the past, whatever may be written on his heart, yesterday morning Jeremy Corbyn condemned IRA bombings. This was the correct thing to do. His words were nonetheless reported as “Jeremy Corbyn refuses to condemn IRA”.

I mean, I don’t generally hold with blaming the mainstream media for politicians’ failures, but it’s a bit rum isn’t it?

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

0800 7318496