Thursday, 26 July 2007

Lord Longford

Several weeks, possibly months ago, I recorded a Channel 4 docudrama about Lord Longford. This guy has never been one of my heroes, quite the reverse. I thought he was completely wrong in his support for Mary Whitehouse and his attacks on pornography.

Tonight we finally watched it, an with some provisos, it changed my view of him completely. It was the one about Myra Hindley.

I still think that in many ways he was a gullible fool, but on the Hindley issue, I'm convinced he was right. Brady was a psychopath who dragged a relatively innocent girl into his nightmare. Our legal system completely betrayed her, since if she'd been a man, she'd have been given parole, just as several (according to the programme) comparable male killers have been.

It was really just because she was a woman that she remained incarcerated until she died. Public opinion couldn't handle the fact that a woman could kill innocent children, so she could never be forgiven.

I'm not talking here about the revenge of the relatives. In terms of crime and punishment, you have to separate the perpetrator from the victims, otherwise you might as well just bury the criminals up to their necks in sand and stone them to death, which is simply barbarous.

Oh, I know it isn't that simple, but I've long felt that Hindley got a bad press, and this programme portrayed her and Longford in such a way that I could feel a lot of sympathy for both of them.

I have long felt I could easily say that about Hindley, but never before about Longford.

Edit: Hmmmm. I've googled for child killers this morning and I'm no longer convinced she was discriminated against simply because she was a woman. As ever, it's unlikely to be as simple as portrayed on the telly.

8 comments:

Omega Mum said...

Talking of which, how let down do you feel about Christ Langham? Creative genius to creep in three days (OK, I'm jumping the verdict a little, I know).

Rob Clack said...

I rather agree, though we should wait for the jury verdict. However, in the meanwhile I find his excuse ingenious but disingenuous.

dulwichmum said...

I had an intelligent comment to make here (I kid myself) - ok a considered comment, and then I see what lovely Omega Mum has written and must be off to Google Christ Langham - I have been on holiday for far too long!

I see red when it comes to child killers ... but I have to say Rob, I am heartened by your open mindedness in this post - and by your later adition in red. It is always good to be open to new things. You have given me a lot to think about.

Rob Clack said...

DM you can't kid me. I've read your blog and I'm pretty sure it would have been an intelligent comment!

I think it's easier for me to be more dispassionate about child killers, having none of my own (and never having wanted any).

Over the years I've said so much only to realise later that I was wrong, or it wasn't that simple, or there was this and this and this I'd not thought of. I've spent a lot of time going "Oh bollocks I wish I'd kept my trap shut!" it's given me lots of practice at stepping back and trying to see alternative points of view. Mostly doesn't work, of course.

dulwichmum said...

Dear Rob,

You and me both, in this regard. I have spent most of my life wishing I had said nothing...

Rob Clack said...

Hehehe!

rilly super said...

crikey rob, this is all a bit heavy. Whole books have been written on this issue of personal responsability and rehabilitation and the specifics of this case so there's little I can add here. I haven't seen the TV show you mention but I recall it was Samantha Morten who played Hindley and she is very adept at playing damaged characters so I don't know if that would make Hindley come across as more sympathetic or actually more creepy. Whichever it is, these programmes have a habit of becoming 'fact' even if by their very nature they are largely fiction so you have to be a bit wary...

Rob Clack said...

You're right RS. The more I think about it, the less confident I am that my initial reactions were right. Actually, the less confident I am that I'm qualified to hold an opionion at all.

I ended up seeing Hindley as a poor lost soul lead astray by a nasty psychopath, which was presumably the intention of the programme makers, rather than necessarily reflecting reality.