Politics And The Whitechapel Murders

The Bucks Herald, in its edition of Saturday the 13th of October 1888 featured the following article about how the Whitechapel murders were being used for political ends:-


The dreadful murders in Whitechapel have produced a most painful effect throughout the country, and their atrocity was of such a fiendish character that it is hardly to be wondered that they created, even far away from the locality where they were committed, something like a panic.

But now that the popular excitement has in some degree calmed down, we can judge whether there was sufficient cause for such an outburst of unreasoning terror, and whether the obloquy to which the authorities, from the Home Secretary downwards, have been assailed, was deserved.

We have no intention of describing afresh the incidents of the tragedies.

That the murders were carried out with the same secrecy, with identical absence of motive, and that discovery of the criminal has not yet been effected, need not be further dwelt upon.


But that they have been made the vehicle for bitter and undeserved attacks upon public servants, disheartening their energy and damaging their efficiency, is one of the most regrettable facts in connection with a public calamity.

There was absolutely no justification for it.

The outrages were limited to one particular quarter, and to a class of women whose habits render it extremely difficult for the police to afford them ordinary protection.

The persons and dwellings of decent citizens have been as safe as at any other time during the last two years, and London, as regards ordinary crime, compares most favourably with any foreign capital.


Yet, because a single murderer, acting with peculiar cunning and with extraordinary advantages, has not been instantly captured, an outcry has been raised for the dismissal of the Home Secretary, the resignation of Sir Charles Warren, and a change in the whole system of police management.


The followers of Mr. Gladstone in the press have not hesitated to denounce the failure to secure the criminal as the natural result of the ineptitude of a Tory Government.

All this is, perhaps, the outcome of the new method in politics which has been introduced by Mr. Gladstone at the bidding of his Parnellite allies.

A photograph of William Ewart Gladstone.
William Ewart Gladstone.


To hamper and attack the constabulary of Ireland in the discharge of their duties has become one of the recognised weapons of the Gladstonian armoury. It had a certain amount of success for a time, but has latterly become somewhat rusty and ineffective.

If we are now to have it brought into use in England, whenever a social calamity like the Whitechapel murders occur, political warfare will, indeed, have reached its lowest level.