A Jeremy Corbyn triumph would shame his opponents

Jeremy Corbyn


Observer 18 July 2015

You must walk in other men’s shoes even if they rub and pinch. The Labour politicians and political commentators who gaze with horror on the upsurge of the left should try it, then perhaps they will understand why their arguments are failing.

They are, of course, right to say that you cannot win an election unless you show you can manage the economy. It is also true that the Labour party, like failing centre-left parties across Europe, will never be in power again unless it can attract English voters, who have headed off to the right. Turning Labour into a leftwing version of the Tea Party is fatal, which is why Conservatives cannot believe their luck, and are telling their supporters to pay £3 for Labour membership and back Jeremy Corbyn.

But sensible tactics don’t move the heart and you cannot explain why Corbyn is doing so well unless you understand the two distinct groups make up the new Labour party left.

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Islamism prevails even as we suppress free speech

Observer, 4 July 2015

No one could have predicted that the Bangladeshi writer Rafida Bonya Ahmed would make it to London last week. That she is alive at all is a miracle – to use a word of which she would thoroughly disapprove. As I watched her deliver the British Humanist Association’s annual Voltaire lecture , I saw a dignified and principled intellectual it was our duty to emulate and defend. I could not understand why anyone would want to harm, let alone kill, her

But many do. In February, Islamist fanatics hacked her husband, Avijit Roy, to death with meat cleavers as the couple left a book fair in Dhaka. They nearly killed Ahmed too: slicing off her thumb and covering her body with wounds. To hear her talk about her murdered husband made me long to have met him. He was a typical intellectual – hopeless with anything practical but in love with literature, science and free debate. Continue reading

The right wing welfare state: capitalism for the young, socialism for the old

(Photo: Getty)
From the Spectator 22 June 2015

On the radio this morning, a campaigner from the Child Poverty Action Group had an ‘emperor’s new clothes’ moment. Why not, she said, treat the young like the old. If the Tories insisted on having a ‘triple lock’ on pension benefits for the elderly, which guaranteed that the state pension must increase every year by whatever target was the highest – inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5 per cent – why not put a triple lock on the benefits of poor families. The state would then treat the young like the old, and subsidise the future as it subsidises the past.

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Modern sport: The best ‘role models’ are in prison

Baku 2015 European Games

The Azerbaijan flag is waved by spectators at the opening ceremony of the Baku 2015 European Games on Friday. Photograph: BerndThissen/Corbis

The pretence that sportsmen and women are “role models” is impossible to maintain. It’s not just that no parent tells their teenage children to model their sex lives on premier league footballers or holds up Lewis Hamilton’s flight to a tax haven as a model of good citizenship. To be a member of the sporting “elite” is to live in a state of perpetual childhood without enjoying or even wanting the rights and responsibilities of a grown-up.
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The next big lie: “If you want to fight Islamism, you must lose your freedom”


From the Observer 6 June 2015

Islamist murderers in Europe follow a pattern. To paraphrase Pastor Niemöller, first they come for the free thinkers, then they come for the Jews. In Paris in January, Cherif and Said Kouachi slaughtered 11 cartoonists and editors at the offices of Charlie Hebdo because they had satirised Muhammad. Two days later, a fellow gang member murdered four Jews at the Hypercacher kosher supermarket a few miles away for no other reason than they were Jewish.

In February, Omar Abdel el-Hussein attacked a conference in Copenhagen discussing whether Islamism was the fascism of the 21st century. His target appeared to be Lars Vilks, who had drawn disobliging cartoons of Muhammad. But it could have been any one of the artists or writers present. El-Hussein couldn’t get past security so he shot and killed a film director and wounded three police officers who stood in his way before running off to murder a volunteer guarding Copenhagen’s Great Synagogue. Once again, his victim died for no other reason than he was Jewish.

Nothing seems clearer to me than the belief that you must support free thought and fight racist murderers. But in the world we are moving into, governments won’t let you do both. Continue reading

Steve Hilton’s platitudes are so folksy and banal a Girl Guide leader could repeat them

Steve Hilton and David CameronIt is impossible for anyone involved in politics to write without lying. The act of joining a party and committing to collective discipline compels loyalists to “take one for the team” when required. They do not want to give aid to their enemies or cause distress to their friends, so they avoid the questions that anyone else would ask automatically.

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