Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

A Murder in Nottingham

A horrific episode in a university city points to the sobering truth—nobody wishes to take up the iron rod of justice.

(Luke Brennan/Shutterstock)

In the book of condolence available online, which was emailed to me as a former doctoral researcher and alumnus of the University of Nottingham by the university's vice chancellor, I wrote how the city, the ruling elite, and the university professors failed Grace O’Malley Kumar and Barnaby Webber, the star hockey and cricket players and first-year students randomly stabbed to death by a West African migrant in the city of Nottingham, England. I wrote that one would hear a lot about how “love wins over hate,” and how “hate has no place in the city,” and how “unity and solidarity shows Nottingham is one”; one would hear everything except anything about law and order, or enforcing migration policies and deporting career criminals. At the time of writing this column, the comment was still “awaiting moderation," and I highly doubt it will ever see the light of the day. 

A few days ago, my alma mater, one of Britain’s prestigious Russell Group universities, woke up to the news of three people stabbed to death, including Grace and Barnaby. “It is with great sadness that we confirm the sudden and unexpected death of two of our students following a major incident in #Nottingham city centre overnight. We are shocked and devastated by the news and our thoughts are with those affected, their families and friends,” tweeted the university, a notoriously left-wing institution in an even more notoriously left-wing and functionally lawless city. The town hall followed by flying banners. The university then had a vigil. Everyone said that hate has no place in society. Every reflexive outrage was neatly controlled, boxed, and channelled—just as it should be, in an upper-middle-class “radical” university in a historically radical city. 


Grace O’Malley Kumar, a 19-year-old, was out at night with her friend Barnaby when they were stabbed by a 31-year-old migrant, who was, of course, known to the MI5 for previous crimes but had never been deported. He then butchered the two kids, before killing another 61-year-old man, stealing his van and running it over three others. One of them is in critical condition at a hospital. Kumar was a star hockey player and a star student, studying medicine. She came from a middle-class Indo-Irish family, the product of the classic “British dream” that both Labour and Conservatives tout so much. Her father, Dr. Sanjoy Kumar, apparently saved “victims of a gang stabbing in Essex, in 2009.” Nothing seems to have changed since. 

Americans are of course familiar with this dynamic: An upstanding member of society or a promising young student gets either raped or murdered or both. Remember Mollie Tibbetts? Or Eliza Fletcher? Karina Vetrano? Sarmistha Sen? Hannah Graham and Morgan Dana Harrington? Those are just off the top of my head. A full list could have its own Wikipedia page. 

The system we live under is designed against observing patterns, but the most prominent pattern of all is that violent criminality increases in a very specific section of society, in towns or cities with extremely liberal law enforcement and order. So much so that if your outstanding and bright 19-year-old daughter or sister or girlfriend goes to a top British university to study medicine but never returns home, you would instinctively know that is because she has had her life snuffed out by those who should not have been out on the streets in any civilized society in any era. I taught 19-year-olds during my doctoral studentship. They could have been my students. 

At least in America there are red states and, at least in some places, the death penalty; the system is designed to change hands, and there is a statistical possibility of a strong law-and-order candidate who might change the laws and politics. Britain is far more centralized, and there is little difference on social policy among the three major parties. This is the tale of a polity that is democratic in name only—around 60 percent of the British want to return to capital punishment, but that is unlikely to change—and is utterly let down by elected leaders, elites, NGOs, and the justice system. Here, “progress” means the lives of those who might be of some benefit to society are abruptly ended by the dregs due to a worldview that thinks everyone is equal, and that law and order and hierarchy aren’t important, and that justice should be reformative instead of punitive. Governance in Britain is functionally dead. 

Nadia Whittome, the Labour member of Parliament for Nottingham East, calls herself a socialist and has pronouns in her Twitter bio. She is also one of the most toxic members ever to have graced Westminster. She is “inspired” by the Black Lives Matters movement and works to “dismantle” white privilege. She once tweeted, "'White privilege' doesn’t mean all white people are privileged. It means they don’t face *additional* barriers and disadvantages that are due to racism.” One can Google her letter and campaign to stop the deportation of criminals and aliens. 


Post massacre, she dutifully tweeted, “May we remember and celebrate the lives of Barnaby Webber, Grace Kumar and Ian Coates. Nottingham lost three wonderful and cherished members of our community. My heart goes out to all who loved them. May they rest in peace.” 

Absent in her weaselly and emetic peroration was any mention of the perpetrator of the massacre, his legal status, or her policies that ensured that he would be on the streets taking the lives of innocents. Nor will she ever face any questions on her policies or her hypocrisy. And the cravenly left-wing informational hegemony in the media will ensure that the people never know or understand the consequences of her policies. 

Or maybe they do, and nothing will change anyway. For example, in Minnesota, up until about 2009, you’d find mainstream news stories about Somalian gangs. You don’t anymore. Now, you find complaints within the Somali-American community about how Minneapolis reminds them of Somalia, post-George Floyd. They still overwhelmingly vote the party that supports lax law enforcement, redistribution, and restorative justice. 

The university, with its liberal student unions, professoriate, and administration, as well as the city elite, media, activist judiciary, NGOs such as StopDeportation, and political parties will continue with their “migrants are welcome” and “there is no place for hate” nonsense. The very idea that “hate” was responsible for the attacks gives a way to avoid taking any responsibility or attributing agency to anything or anyone. If you don’t have to pinpoint the crime or criminal—let alone the policies that resulted in the crime—you need never take any action, and you can keep moaning about “hate.” It is the British version of blaming “guns.” It is an escape hatch, by design. The affluent middle-class students and their families will be influenced, or corralled into controlled opposition, keep their heads down, and continue being cogs in the machine. The middle class are rarely overtly revolutionary or reactionary. 

But hatred of villainy balances villainous hatred (or “hate”), at least in politics. Law and order aren’t restored by Twitter hashtags; they are restored by an unsentimental and neutral police force manned by hard men with connections within various communities, by strong laws, by long prison sentences and harsh, retributive justice. This system worked very well for a couple of centuries. It will again, if given a chance. 

Walk across Nottingham and you’d see none of that. Instead, in the historic city center you’d perhaps find a police couple (they are gender-balanced these days) wearing comical fluorescent high-visibility jackets, bored and gossiping. British police don’t carry guns. None of them will be able to run down or chase anyone, none will be allowed to use force in anger. Neither political party will support them if they do. 

The human rights regime established in Europe and parts of America post-1945 wrecked any form of active democracy, since it took away agency from the people and concentrated power in the hands of an amorphous transnational blob manned by a swarm government, where there is no individual accountability, and, far from being punished for inaction, no one is in fact allowed to take any action. And anyone who dares to change, is removed by lawfare. Just look at the fate of Dominic Raab or Suella Braverman. (Or Donald Trump.) What is the purpose of democracy, then, anyway, when no amount of elections will result in any material change?  

But a democratic society needs first of all some form of normative and cultural homogeneity—a citizenry, that is, regardless of class, race or sex, bound by the same common laws and rules and values, and more importantly, fearful of the same punitive measures. One cannot have effective governance without establishing a righteous fear of punitive justice. Human rights only work when there is a common definition of what constitutes a humane conduct—in other words, when they are conceived in the context of a civilized space. Human rights should not be shields for conduct unbecoming of basic humanity. And absent that, in a society where the meaningless rituals of the electoral processes don’t matter anymore and the sovereign cannot perform its basic function of establishing peace and order, the public will be increasingly attracted to those who can, ignoring an indifferent bureaucracy, activist NGOs, and biased media and judiciary, in favor of brutal Caesarean force.