Hanged for a sheep

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.

18 December 2012

“I warn you not to be ordinary, I warn you not to be young, I warn you not to fall ill, and I warn you not to grow old.”

Extract from a speech at Bridgend in Wales on 7 June 1983 by British Labour Party politician Neil Kinnock (b. 1942) on the prospect of a victory by the governing Tory Party led by Margaret Thatcher (b. 1925) in the parliamentary elections that month.  Her government was re-elected.


Faced with rising prices, falling wages and a dearth of jobs, poor British people, including young mothers, have resorted to shoplifting in order to feed their families.

They can expect to be punished with the full weight of the law.

In the town of Rotherham (population 118 000) in Yorkshire, for instance, crime has increased by 28 % in the past twelve months. Local police believe that the rise has been fuelled by the economic downturn. According to a report today 18 December 2012 on the BBC website, shoplifters appear to be targeting essential items, such as groceries, rather than luxury goods.

A police spokesman said:

“What we are seeing is a small number of individuals – particularly young mums – who are committing crimes to feed their children. If you look at powdered milk or baby food, it’s quite expensive. These are individuals that have had no dealings with the police in their lives and this is the first offence they’ve ever committed.”

However, poor people who steal out of desperation can expect no mercy from the law.

Both police and local businesses insist that shoplifting is a crime they take seriously. Anyone caught shoplifting will be prosecuted.



Britain today is governed by a vicious heartless uncaring government of upper-class toffs and plutocrats headed by posh boy Old Etonian David Cameron and his Tory/Liberal cabinet of well-off ex-public school boys. Since this coterie inveigled themselves into office in 2010, they have cracked down relentlessly on the lower classes, hacking back social benefits and driving even the disabled (including cancer patients) on to the streets to search for non-existent jobs. The aim is to cut public spending so that taxes for well-off fat cats can be radically reduced. In the teeth of the worst recession since the 1930s, their propaganda machine is working overtime to paint jobless paupers as idle scroungers who prefer to lie a-bed in the morning rather than go out and do a decent day’s work. “Anyone who wants a job can find one,” they claim, lying through their teeth in the face of the evidence.

It is in this context that the desperate poor have taken to shop-lifting to put bread into the mouths of their children.

In 1984/1985 Antigone1984 was in Belgium seeking funds and moral support from continental trade unionists for British coalminers involved in a bitter and ultimately futile national strike against an earlier Tory government headed by Ronald Reagan’s buddy Margaret Thatcher. At the time, striking miners who had taken coal from their pits to heat the homes of their families were being arrested by the British police and prosecuted in court. The Belgian trade unionists who heard this were astonished. In Belgium then to steal in order to give your family the basic necessities of life was not treated as crime. We had to inform them that this was far from the case in the United Kingdom.

One needs to remember that in Britain not so long ago poachers were hanged in public on a gibbet for stealing a sheep from the flock of the Lord of the Manor.


 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.


This entry was posted in Belgium, Police, Politics, UK and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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