Sometimes in politics an argument for this or that is made so clearly and persuasively that all those who can agree with it either do so immediately or it or will want to go along with it and test it against their reason and experience as a working hypothesis.
Sometimes such an argument is so concisely made and appears to be so practical that it might as well be copied word for word into a manifesto for those who would wish to follow the idea and make it real.
Some arguments just talk to the soul as if a poet had made them and can be simply enjoyed for the clean, guiltless pleasure of agreeing: ’Yes, that’s true. That’s the way it is.’
The great Doctor Theodore Dalrymple writes such a piece in the New English Review this month. It’s entitled Crime and Punishment, and contains his familiar blend of fine prose, cautious and non-doctrinaire reasoning, and references to where supporting and contrary evidence might be sought but without the obsession with statistics or cherry picking particular cases that lesser writers such as me might cite. And it all ends with a conclusion that comes easily and freely from the argument made.
I doubt I’ll see a conservative case for prison as social self-defence made so well and so briefly in a month of Sundays.
What do you think?