April 9, 2018
Sadiq Khan and Theresa May
During the past week, Londoners have woken to the fact that for the first time in living memory the homicide rate in their capital city has overtaken that of New York. There were 15 homicides in London in February, compared with 14 in New York. In March, there were 22 in London, 21 in New York. In recent weeks in London there has been at least one gang-related stabbing almost every day: often fatal, sometimes not. At least 35 deaths since the start of this year have been gang-related. Doctors talk of the emergency wards in parts of London in the evenings resembling a warzone. Just one of the oddities is that most Londoners remain untouched by this. As Harry Mount wrote at The Spectator last month, it is perfectly possible for a killing to be going on near a smart north-London dinner party.
Nevertheless, given that, among Brits, New York still has a reputation for violence, the comparison has struck a nerve. Apart from focusing the national mind, it has also fired up one of the most subterranean and troubling calculations any political class has to make. How many lives are you willing to sacrifice in pursuit of a political position?