London Evening Standard
A TRUE story that is doing the rounds among senior officers of the Met encapsulates a growing fear in the security services.
A London mosque invites a Muslim who was injured in the 7/7 attacks to speak. The congregation isn’t extreme. They have never followed some local equivalent of Abu Hamza. They’re just ordinary members of an ordinary mosque in the London suburbs.
Our wounded man gets up. He declares that British-born Muslims have attacked London and the community must work out what is going wrong before there’s another atrocity.
The audience greets him with absolute silence. But, the speaker continues, as well as blaming ourselves we must also blame Tony Blair for invading Iraq.
At this, relief and thunderous applause sweep the room.
You can guess why the police are worried. Members of a mosque who can’t see there’s a problem closer to home than Iraq aren’t likely to tip them off.
They’re hardly alone in that. John Ware’s Panorama investigation into the mainstream Muslim Council of Britain s found conspiracy theory, religious hatred and anti-Western prejudice among its associates. Lest I seem Islamophobic, when, in truth, I have a phobia about all religious fundamentalists, I should add that after the bombings it felt as if half the country was blaming Blair for the murders. As the Standard reported, even 11-year-old Adam Gray refused to go to the memorial service for his father because he thought the PM had made London and his family a target.
The trouble with this line of thinking is that it can swiftly slip into denial. We can forget about the strange motives that drive a cult of slaughter and self-slaughter. Its crimes aren’t really its fault, but the fault of our politicians. If only they were wiser, we would be safe.
I can see the appeal. With twentieth century fascism and communism, as much as modern religious totalitarianism, you are dealing with psychopathic movements that are in the end beyond rational explanation. Modern minds don’t like the inexplicable. We find it more comforting to dismiss the extraordinary spectacle of young men blowing-up as many strangers as they can as an understandable reaction to foreign policy.
But if millions believe Blair is guilty, where does that leave the police? In a mess, I’d say.
The IRA was brought to heel in Northern Ireland because informants were queuing round the block. I’m told that in London virtually no one is coming forward. Detectives aren’t hearing about odd trips abroad or the likely location of safe houses.
Muslim police officers should be able to take the argument for tackling Islamism head on to their communities. Unfortunately, the Met has just 200 Muslim police officers for the whole of the city.
Maybe I’m being alarmist, and this summer’s bombings were a one off.
If I’m not, we should prepare for the worst.
IT’S faintly repellent to see people who bowed before David Blunkett when he was full of pomp and power kick him now he is down.
The former flatterers should have noticed that his fatal flaws were on full display when they were talking of him as the next Prime Minister.
I’ve covered seven other Home Secretaries, and none could match his wild impatience of criticism. People who stood-up for this country’s liberties were “airy-fairy” do-gooders. Judges who questioned the legality of his decisions didn’t “live in the real world”. After one left-wing journalist I know signed a petition against one of his draconian policies, the Home Office wouldn’t return his calls.
David Blunkett always was a politician who had to have his own way. He never could stand restraints whether they came from law of the land or the Ministerial Code of Conduct.
ON THE last edition of Any Questions the panel was asked about George Bush’s promotion of cronies, and it duly laid in to the cosiness of the American elite
Their denunciations might have been more convincing if everyone on the platform hadn’t been to private school.
Labour’s Tessa Jowell went to St Margaret’s, Aberdeen. David Laws for the Lib Dems went to St George’s College, Weybridge. Tim Yeo for the Tories went to Marlborough College. As did Sir Max Hastings. As indeed did Jonathan Dimbleby, the chairman.
I know I keep banging on about this, but Labour MPs need to learn that their refusal to allow competition from selective state schools is letting the children of the rich get all the gravy.
MODERN buildings usually look horrific from a distance but are comfortable and occasionally beautiful once you are inside. I found an exception to the rule when I visited the new City Hall the other day.
It was a spectacular sight from the far side of the river. Yet when I went through the doors, the low ceilings and narrow walkways were claustrophobic to the point of being suffocating.
Appearances are deceptive, as they are with the Mayor. From a distance, you think he’s a pretty straight guy; one of those rare politicians you can trust. Then he breaks his emphatic promise and destroys the Routemasters.
You see him as an egalitarian left-winger who is all for the rights of minorities. Then he embraces Yusuf al Qaradarwi, a cleric of the extreme religious right who believes that women should be beaten and gays, Jews and free-thinkers murdered.
Perhaps he’ll be pulled down one day.