Peter Hoskin

Voters back the death penalty in polls — but will they petition for it?

Really, I expected a tidal rush of new opinion polls on the death penalty after Guido launched his campaign for its restoration last week — but, strangely, that hasn’t happened yet. There is one poll today, though, by Survation for the Mail on Sunday. It suggests that 53 per cent of people support the death penalty being reintroduced for “certain crimes”, against 34 per cent who don’t. So far as the supplementary findings go, the death penalty is more popular among older people and among Tory and UKIP voters. Almost half of all respondents believe that serious crimes would decline were the penalty reintroduced. And the three crimes deemed most deserving of the rope (or alternatives) are: mass murder, murder of a child, and serious terrorism offences. There are many more grisly details, should you be troubled to see them, in the complete tables here.

The question is not so much whether the wider public supports the death penalty, but whether they care sufficiently to sign up for it on the government’s new e-petitions site. Remember, a petition needs 100,000 votes for it to become “eligible” for debate in the Commons. But, as it stands, the petition with the most signatures — 16,285, at time of writing — is one calling for the ban on capital punishment to be retained. Whereas Guido’s own petition has 9,317 signatures, not aided by the competing death penalty petitions alongside it. Although there are still six months of digital signatures to come, this could be a muddier process than was originally expected.

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