The strange link between criminals and hero worship

What do the Kray Twins, Ronnie Biggs, Raoul Moat and Henry Vincent all have in common? Apart from being criminals that is? Well, it’s the wholly undeserved tribute and hero worship of course. What else.

Now let’s not beat about the bush, and after seeing people outside an elderly man’s house, who justifiably defended his person and his property, I’m certainly in no mood to be charitable and forgiving with my words. By all accounts, the men mentioned in the opening paragraph were all career criminals and thugs. They lived dangerous lives and in some cases escaped justice for most of their lives.

With regard to Henry Vincent, the mere notion that some people have made the misguided pilgrimage to South-East London then went to a supermarket or florist to collect flowers, paid for them with their own earnings and then proceeded to place them delicately outside the same house that Henry Vincent was caught trying to rob, with an accomplice, as if he was some type of Catholic martyr is almost incomprehensible to any decent minded and sensible person.

Unfortunately, the individuals who pay tribute and idolise such men are neither decent minded or sensible. Vapid and sick, perhaps, but not decent minded and sensible. Such misplaced acts are not a new social phenomena by any means. People still seem to worship the Kray twins as if they were the noble heroes of the East End, rather than violent gangsters that they actually were. Raoul Moat was seen as some sort of under-class, roided out version of Batman. A hero to some blatantly ignorant souls and at one point the focus of a Facebook tribute page that had over 35,000 followers.  The ‘Great Train Robber’, Ronnie Biggs lived out most of his infamous life in Brazil. The unfortunate train driver on that night, Jack Mills, was bashed over the head and died when he was 64, having never recovered from his injuries.

One must ask the question, why is there a ghoulish minority in Britain who seem to hero worship these sorts of men? Is the United Kingdom so bereft of noble heroes and stories that people have turned to idolising the reprehensible representatives of the worst angels of our nature? Make no mistake, the names mentioned so far are not angelic Robinhood-esque figures who were robbing a modern version of Prince John to provide silver groats to the feudal impoverished in the parish. They aren’t ‘sticking it to the man’ in an attempt to subvert authority, either. They robbed, terrorised, and destroyed the lives of the decent hard working people of this nation, without a thought for the physical and emotional well-being of those innocent bystanders in their way at that particular time. Their one goal was to make themselves rich at the expense of others hard work or to extract a perverted revenge on society. Nothing more. They all even lack the inherent moral ambiguity to be labelled as anti-heroes.

The media is also mentioning that Henry Vincent was part of the ‘travelling’ community. Does this infer some kind of immunity or extra respect? No doubt, someone will eventually play the egregious ‘minority’ card at some point. I consider both points irrelevant. His actions were all that matters and they spoke for themselves.

‘He was a person too. What about his family’ some will shout. What about them? Of course, his family and friends have a right to mourn as they see fit. Despite an individual’s transgression, there’s a reasonable chance that they will be missed by someone close to them. The people laying flowers outside South Park Crescent are not all family, however. Even if they were, it would seem to be a wholly inappropriate place to pay such a tribute and mourn someone’s passing. It also seems like a vaguely threatening move to make and no doubt some of the participants are fully aware of their actions.

We all have a degree of fascination with the criminal and macabre, the deviant and the extreme. This can range on a continuum from revulsion to obsession. I can understand and appreciate this, but the mental gymnastics to leap from an interest in criminal behaviour to the outright hero worship that such men receive is worthy of a honed Olympic athlete.

There can be no greater visible sign of the decline of Great Britain, intellectually, morally and spiritually than the worship and remembrance of violent and utterly reprehensible men. Thankfully, it is still a minority of people at the moment, but the fact that even a minority engage in such fawning, fabricated mourning for someone who committed a lifetime of violent acts is a worrying precedent.


  1. Spot on. If I’d walked past the house that Henry Vincent was robbing, those floral tributes to him would have been booted all over the road. Folk that hero-worship scum have pretty pathetic lives. Witness the crowds that came out in Manchester for the funerals of Noonan, Massey and others… desperately sad individuals trying to claim affinity with, or an association with the criminal ‘underworld’. Two of my friends grew up in Moss Side and Cheetham Hill in the 70s, 80s & 90s. Where are all of the ‘big men’ now?… either still in prison or out living in one of the poorer quality houses on the council’s stock and sweeping the streets for a living. Losers with f’d up sh1t lives. Was it really worth it for a few years of being able to be the big man? And for the minority that have escaped justice so far, I’m a big believer that karma will catch up with them in due course.


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