Monday, 4 October 2010

Mindset of the LibDems: Prove Your Innocence

It seems like a relatively innocuous post but does it reveal a lot about the mindset of some Liberal Democrats? Over at LibDemVoice Mark Pack cites a Swedish idea that might help people keep to the speed limits. Instead of simply recording details about speeding cars, cameras should record all cars and those that are keeping to the limit are automatically entered into a prize draw. Fantastic!

Let's ignore for the moment the possibility that enforcing speed limits may not be needed (see here) and the argument that speed cameras make crashes more likely (see here). Let's also ignore the problem of recording and storing information about all drivers. Let's just ask the simple question: what does this tell us about the mindset of the LibDems?

You see, the idea is to reward those who keep to the speed limits, ie the law-abiding citizens. But how can we find out who these people are? Well, the only way, it seems, is to make them prove they are law abiding by driving past a camera at an appropriate speed. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Wouldn't it be more in accordance with our legal system to assume that all people are law-abiding and don't speed unless we can prove otherwise? In other words, have everyone in the country automatically entered into the draw and removed if they break the law. But why stop there? Why not give a prize to everyone who keeps to the law and not to those who don't? Or, to save on admin costs, don't take any money away from those keeping the law but do take it away from those who... Oh.

EDIT: For the sake of clarity, I'm only being half-serious. Half-Serious in the sense that I'm sure Mark does support the idea of innocent until proven guilty.  Serious in the sense that he didn't seem to realise it applied everywhere.


  1. Even being only half-serious I think you've got jumped one step too many. I'm not suggesting you can *only* be considered innocent if you drive past a speed camera.

    That would indeed lead to some very odd behaviour and traffic patterns (and be a bit tough on anyone not travelling by car) :-)

    Under the system everyone would still be innocent until proven guilty, but they'd be a potential bonus for those who are innocent and happen to pass the speed camera. Whether that overall results in more people keeping to speed limits is certainly up for debate - but that's why I think the Swedish pilot is interesting, as it will provide some evidence on that score.

  2. I don't think I jumped a step, but perhaps there is a step we disagree on. The step you think I jumped is actually in the first sentence of the third paragraph:

    "You see, the idea is to reward those who keep to the speed limits, ie the law-abiding citizens."

    From your response it would seem that you disagree and that the idea is NOT to reward law-abiding citizens. Rather, the idea is to reward only those law-abiding citizens who happen to be law-abiding in the right place.

    If that is the intention then you are correct and I apologise.