November 24, 2005

The scientific approach to politics

As I'm sure everyone is aware, the new licensing laws came in to action at midnight last night. This has enabled many establishments to serve alcohol for longer, and some around the clock. Many people are extremely concerned about the effect this will have on binge-drinking, crime and general antisocial behaviour.

However, at the same time the government have decided to get the police to target alcohol-fuelled offences. Why have they done this, I hear you ask? So they can cover their backs and palm off any increase in drink-related crime on the increased policing, instead of admitting that it might have something to do with the new, extended, licensing. Genius!

So if I had any influence I would call for a truly scientific approach to the introduction of new laws. In the lab we introduce changes one at a time and repeat the experiment under the same conditions, observing the changes that occur. This is the only way you can truly identify the source of a problem. The only way we could tell if these new licensing laws were improving matters would be to, as far as possible, keep all the other variables the same. But governments can't be seen to be wrong about these things, so they must manipulate each situation so that it seems that they're right.


- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. The new licensing laws give reason to suppose a potential increase in crime, agreed. But to argue against the new policing strategies would be tantamount to suggesting that we should allow the crimes to happen just for the sake of finding out the effects of the new laws. Society cannot be experimented on as if it was bound by controlled laboratory conditions.

    24 Nov 2005, 14:53

  2. Yes, but surely introducing the new laws without finding out their true implication is just as bad. If these laws remain in place when they are in fact making the crime levels far worse but the government try to hide it by palming it off on policing, how is this going to help? The government is effectively experimenting on us without allowing us to see what effect it's having on our society.

    24 Nov 2005, 15:20

  3. Sarah's right, we're already being experimented on and to be controlled by laboratory conditions would certainly be better than the ways things are now. In science we see how factosr affects a system by changing them one at a time so you can pin down the cause of an effect. If the Government change the licensing laws, it will have an effect on society, whether that be positive, negative or neither. However, by changing the policing laws at the same time, any changes seen could be attributed to either. It's clever politics: if crime increases, they can blame whichever of the changes is least popular in public opinion, thereby safeguarding themselves. Lab rats we are not, but political games we could all do without.

    24 Nov 2005, 15:43

  4. Yeah, I agree, Sarah. I've already heard some junior Home Office minister saying that an increase in arrests "could be a sign of the success" of the new laws. We will simply never know; the conclusions will simply be spun for best effect – and how can that possibly be the basis for good policy?

    27 Nov 2005, 19:01

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