In a piece for The Sun newspaper, Conservative leader David Cameron writes on the repercussions from the Independent enquiry into the tragic death of Baby P (or should we now call him by his name: Peter?). Firstly Cameron salutes those who supported his call for the enquiry "More than 1.3million signed The Sun Baby P petition, each name a cry for justice. Yesterday, those cries were answered. The sackings, suspensions, resignations were long overdue..." he also asks a range of questions concluding these with "The army of Sun readers who signed their names to that petition want answers to these questions, and so do I. It’s thanks to pressure from this paper that we’ve got this far, but we’ve got to keep pushing for the truth... And we’ve got to keep fighting to make the safety net stronger for other vulnerable children". Here he positions himself alongside the Sun's editors and the readers who have signed the petition.
The problem is that, apart from demanding an enquiry that is Independent from Haringey council, there is no indication of how David Cameron would prevent further deaths apart from ensuring there is punishment not just for the perpetrators but also "those who allow children to come to harm", the social workers etc. But here is the question. Is this ethical. The Sun will call for punitive punishment in its role as populist newspaper appealing to the 'man in the street'; it is no different from also calling for the death penalty for certain crimes or the News of the World fear camapign about paedophiles living among us on licence - one which led to the house of a paediatrician being attacked. The media can get away with this, however it is equally easy for an opposition politician to attack a system in the full knowledge that they may not be able to do any better if they were in power. This is a highly emotive and tragic case that has already been described as a political football, and it seems Cameron has scored most of the goals. However, it is easy to oppose unconstructively and tarnish an already struggling government's reputation further while eliding yourself with mass public opinion. However democracy and the running of the state should work on reasoned and rational debate, is it ethical to join an emotionally charged debate, is this simply about chasing polls, and if so does this raise serious ethical questions.
There is nothing to suggest that any other party would not act in a similar way, by the way, it is a mainstay of permanent political campaigning; the question is should this be a norm of modern politics or should they the politicians ensure there is a more considered level of debate than one that is unable to think beyond 'hanging the bastards'?