With the predictability of acne spreading on a teenager’s face, the British right and left used the ritual slaughter of Lee Rigby to confirm what they already knew. The security establishment called for the revival of its pet project to allow spies to engage in blanket web surveillance without saying why it would have helped. For the “anti-imperialist” left and Greens, who have never wanted to look clerical fascism in the eye for fear of what they may see, the attack told them that the west was to blame – as it always must be.
Neither could accept that political violence is mutating in ways that give past cliches a musty smell. For the first time since 9/11, the similarities between violent movements in the west are more important than their differences.