A year in comment

Boris Johnson has no idea how to fix the national disaster he's bequeathed us

Following the shock win for Leave after the EU Referendum in June, Alastair Campbell condemned elitist Boris Johnson for leaving the UK in uncharted waters and economic turmoil - just as the experts had predicted. As Brexiteers began to renege on their NHS funding promise, the UK was left in a crisis of leadership.

Well, Michael Gove was right about the experts being wrong. They totally underestimated the extent of the disaster that Brexit would unleash. It is perhaps why he and his partner in crime Boris Johnson looked like they were at the funeral of their old friend yesterday, not a celebration of one of the most remarkable and truly historic campaign victories of our time. So let's look at some of the things we on the Remain side said would happen, and which were all dismissed as the scaremongering of Project Fear.

Virtually every major economic voice in the world warned there would be an immediate plunge in the value of the pound, investors would start to pull out, and the Bank of England would have to step in. As the pound charts began to resemble a modern graphic of the white cliffs of Dover, no wonder Gove and Johnson looked sick. The vote had wiped out more money than we had paid into the EU in the last 15 years. Brilliant. They took back control of economic madness.

The economic shrinkage that is now on the way means that far from their claim (aka lie) about more money from the NHS being delivered by Brexit, public services will now see their budgets cut. And in any event, Johnson's fellow campaigner Nigel Farage has already dumped the NHS pledge, just as Daniel Hannan MEP has begun to walk away from the pledge to stop free movement.

Dover, by the way − that is where the border with France is moving to now. That was Project Fear too. Of course the French would continue to look after our borders − said LEAVE. It's in their interests too, innit, stands to reason, common sense? The French authorities are already calling for the Treaty of Le Touquet to be renegotiated. It is going to happen.

Brexit Johnson Gove
Michael Gove MP speaks during a press conference as Boris Johnson MP looks on following the results of the EU referendum at Westminster Tower (Stefan Rousseau)

Then there is the hard Irish border which is already on the agenda − that was never going to happen− said LEAVE. Well the logic of ending free movement of people means it has to happen. You cannot be out of the single market and not have controls at border points. Impossible. One of those inconvenient truths that had no place in the wretched, dumbed down, post-intelligence debate we have had, where brainy Oxbridge politicians link up with the right-wing tax dodgers, foreigners, liars and pornographers who own most of our national press and are today enjoying the benefits of years of lying about Europe and hate-stirring against immigrants. The power-crazed Murdochs and sociopathic Dacres of this world are all too easy to despise. But it was politicians Johnson, Gove and Farage who managed to turn the lies and the myths into a campaign that persuaded millions of people to go their way.

Then there is Scotland, and our warnings that a Brexit vote would lead to the break-up of the Union. Scaremongering. No way would the Scots go for a second referendum with the oil price so low. Well as we have seen in recent days sometimes emotion can top economics. Added to which I for one would much rather live in the Scotland Nicola Sturgeon described yesterday than the England of Johnson and Farage. Scotland will get a second referendum. And the Union is likely to break. And many of those English people who voted for Brexit will say "oh well, who needs them?" Like they have been saying who needs the EU, and singing their xenophobic songs about it at the football in France. They are beginning to get their answer.

This referendum has been a bigger story around the world than any event in Britain since the death of Princess Diana. The consequences are obviously far, far greater. Most of the rest of the world is looking on with a mix of bemusement and concern. The exceptions are Isis, who welcomed the decision(and those of us who said they would were attacked for even suggesting they might), Donald Trump, who dropped into the cartoon yesterday to insult the Prime Minister and our intelligence, and Vladimir Putin, who is rejoicing in seeing Europe destabilised without him needing to lift a finger. As an American friend emailed me yesterday "at least we can now begin to lose our reputation as the most stupid country in the world".

To watch and hear the vox pops of some of my fellow Brits expressing buyers' remorse yesterday was to want to weep. "I only voted LEAVE because everyone said REMAIN was winning."

Another said: "I didn't realise it would actually mean we left. All my family are really sad today. We want to go and vote again."

And: "I voted by post and now I wished I hadn't."

There were also the ones celebrating because they imagined the lies they had been told were actually going to happen. "We'll be able to build a new hospital every week."; "The immigrants will have to go home now."; "We've got our country back." Well you wait and just see what kind of country this will create.

There was the lifelong Tory, the man who said he liked and admired David Cameron, who couldn't believe the Prime Minister was resigning. He had breathed in the warm words of admiration of the LEAVE Tories that they wanted Cameron to stay. And do their dirty work. If Cameron was as ruthless, nasty and narcissistic as Johnson, he would ask him to be Chancellor and Gove to be Foreign Secretary, and take a long holiday.

At 10pm on Thursday, as the markets, the pollsters and the bookies wrongly declared for REMAIN, Cameron looked like he might go down in history as the man who won two elections, three referendums, dragged the Tories into the modern world by settling the argument on Europe and strengthened the economy after the crash. Now he is in the history books forever for one thing and one alone. The man who gave a referendum to the people to make the biggest political decision of our lifetime, which led to Britain leaving the EU.

The tragedy lies in the fact that his arguments were right but they were not enough to defeat the myths and the lies, and the emotions, anger, divisions and inequalities of the post crash, post globalisation world. And though I always said it was a huge strategic error to cave in to a referendum, rather than fight and win the case as part of a general election, he showed yesterday that at least he has the courage, bearing and dignity that real leadership sometimes requires. Johnson looked about as Prime Ministerial as a discarded half-eaten Chinese takeaway sitting on the kitchen table after a heavy night that felt great at the time but left you with a nauseous feeling in the stomach and a dreadful pain in the head. As for the protests of young people to whom he used to project himself as modern, outward-looking, pro-immigration (when running for Mayor), their protests will now follow him wherever he goes.

And what a wonderful irony that a campaign whose central argument was that the people should be able to elect our own leaders so we weren't "run by unelected bureaucrats" (sic) ends with a new Prime Minister elected only by the shrinking force that is the Tory Party membership. An irony horribly compounded by this reality - Boris Johnson, as elitist and right wing as they come, has been put into pole position by blue-collar workers who will be the hardest hit by the consequences both of Brexit and of a Johnson government.

The Tory Party, dominated by the older generation who voted overwhelmingly for a Brexit younger people did not want, may well elect him. But for the country Johnson has gone overnight from being a loveable rogue who knows how to work up a crowd to being the most divisive political figure in the country. And right now the country needs leaders who can heal not divide. Johnson is not that man. Nor is Jeremy Corbyn, as has been obvious since he was elected Labour leader, as was obvious during the campaign and obvious again yesterday. He just cannot do the job.

We have a crisis of leadership at a time we could be heading for a crisis in the economy and a crisis of division within the country. These are dark and depressing times. This is a divided country and the divisions are within as well as between communities.

Many are now saying we all need to pull together and make this work. I am not sure I agree. The country has voted on a totally false prospectus for a decision that has dramatic and damaging consequences, many as yet unseen. As the reality of that sinks in, the anger will grow. I believe the recognition of the sheer scale of the error that has been made will grow. The demands for a second referendum will grow. Or for a general election where an unequivocally pro-EU case can be put by an unequivocally progressive party. Right now it is hard to see where that party is or who are the people who could lead it. But without it, this country is in trouble and staring at rapid decline.

And discredited though they are, the pollsters might try to find out what proportion of the population think we made the right decision on Thursday. I suspect it will be well short of 52%.



Originally published on 25 June, 2016

Hillary Clinton had an inspiring message - but would you look at her make-up!

After Trump's win in the presidential election in November, all eyes turned to Hillary Clinton for a response – but actually ended focussing on her make-up. Laura Bates called out the sexism which plagued Clinton throughout her campaign and after.

Hillary Clinton was allowed all of one week after the greatest political defeat of her career before the frenzy of media scrutiny returned: not to pore over the details of her first post-election speech, or to debate the significance of its message, but to go into a collective meltdown about her lack of make-up.

Clinton actually looks very similar to her normal self - indeed, the look that has been so feverishly vaunted as 'make-up free' actually clearly includes lipstick and possibly some mascara. The hair that has been described so dramatically as "noticeably untamed" and "unkempt" is in fact slightly less volumised than usual, whilst remaining neatly brushed, in a very similar style. Is it really worthy of a thousand headlines that Clinton seemed to be wearing slightly less foundation than normal and perhaps had vaguely flatter hair?

It seems likely that many outlets have deliberately used photographs that amplify the perceived difference, making Clinton look as over-exposed and haggard as possible through unflattering lighting and sharp focus. In the coverage that doesn't dwell exclusively on her face, there is a far less dramatic contrast from her usual appearance.

Surely, rather than any dramatic and deliberate statement, it's much more likely that the slight change in appearance was explained by the fact that she has had the toughest week of her life, as Clinton herself explained in her speech, had anybody actually been focusing on what she was saying instead of what she looked like.

Wouldn't any one of us, on emerging from the nightmare of losing the presidency to a bright orange, misogynistic, Islamophobic bigot with zero political experience, perhaps be looking very slightly the worse for wear?

Yet this fairly obvious explanation was not enough to stem the tide of faux media shock, with Clinton's appearance positioned as evidence of her "crushing election defeat", with "stress" and "anxiety" touted as potential factors.

A candid photograph of Clinton taken by a hiker who came across her walking her dogs is also dragged into the fray, as if further significant revelations about Clinton's mental state can be wrung out of the unsurprising fact that she wasn't wearing a full face of make-up whilst out on a family stroll.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton at the Children's Defense Fund's Beat the Odds Celebration on 16 November 2016, in Washington, DC. It was the first time she had spoken in public since conceding the presidential race. (Getty)

What's most depressing is that Clinton had so much to say in the speech, which focused on child poverty, and the importance of jobs, affordable healthcare and childcare in tackling the problem. She also had a deeply inspiring message for those who were disappointed by the outcome of the election, urging perseverance and engagement, and asking her supporters to continue to "fight for our values and never, ever give up".

How ironic that a speech so full of fire and hope, in which Clinton explicitly cited the examples of many incredible pioneers in social justice and declares that "if they can persevere, so must all of us", has been interpreted and presented by sections of the media as the howl of pain of a broken and defeated women. All because of a centimetre or two less lift in the hair.

Instead of a detailed analysis of her speech and its implications, we have been treated to an itemised comparison of the minutiae of Clinton's actual or imagined beauty regime, from the precise shade of her election campaign lipstick to laser scrutiny of her skin's post-election "puffier appearance".

This is, of course, the perfect example of the double standards that dogged Clinton throughout her campaign, and doubtless would have continued to do so during her presidency had she won the election. Actual statements are spun through the lens of appearance and societal judgement. A slightly different look that would have gone completely unremarked upon in the case of a male candidate is instead held up as proof of this or that emotion, or state of mind. An entire identity is constructed out of assumptions about appearance instead of character and action, as exemplified in the headline: "What happened to the campaign trail's cuddly Granny Clinton?"

Statements like: "However, now that she is no longer relying on the support from the public Mrs Clinton's style seems to be less of the friendly and approachable mother-figure and one of a sterner minded woman" betray the notion that Clinton's very mindset is apparently discernible from her hair and make-up.

Surely - after the political depth of a presidential campaign, after the years of service as Secretary of State and the hundreds of countries visited, after the thousands of intellectual speeches she has given - surely, it is time to stop talking about Clinton's make-up, or lack thereof? She has missed out on shattering the glass ceiling she aimed for, lost the biggest challenge of her career to a man infinitely less qualified than her, and faced innumerable sexist attacks in the process.

Couldn't we at least do her the small courtesy of judging her, from hereon in, on what she says and does, instead of what she looks like?



Originally published on 18 November, 2016

Leavers won't be bullied out of a Brexit by Remainers or Eurocrats

As the Brexit hearing reached the high court in November, Brexiteers were furious that Remainers could potentially overturn the public's decision on the EU. MEP Daniel Hannan called out the threats from Eurocrats.

Britain voted Leave because the EU didn't return any powers during the renegotiation. It really is that simple. The polls were finely balanced when a binary in-out choice was presented; but people overwhelmingly said that they favoured staying in if a looser relationship could be agreed.

Even now, a lot of people don't understand this, or at least affect not to understand it. Some Leavers claim the result as a mandate for whatever arrangement they happened to want. Some Remainers are more interested in name-calling than in analysis.

For what it's worth, though, the people in charge of the renegotiation are in no doubt. David Cameron's chief aides, Mats Persson and Daniel Korski, have written excellent articles since the vote in which they make clear that, had EU leaders shown more flexibility, the result would have been different. Both now concede that David Cameron made a mistake when he decided to ask Brussels only for things he thought he could get.

Having set the bar low, the PM found that the other states naturally aimed to lower it further. According to Tim Shipman's gripping account of the referendum, David Cameron was in such despair at the final summit that he texted his pollster saying "Even I feel like leaving the EU". (Note the "even": among his confidants, the Tory leader never pretended to be a Eurosceptic.)

Imagine, for the sake of argument, that David Cameron had walked away from the talks, instructed his government to prepare for Brexit, but said that a final decision would not be taken until the end of 2017. Is it not at least possible that the EU would have made a better offer?

But no one in Brussels saw a Leave vote as remotely possible – partly because permanence is the illusion of every age, and partly because British officials kept assuring them that there was no danger. Indeed, Jean-Claude Juncker unhelpfully blurted out that David Cameron had privately told him that he would use the referendum to "dock" Britain permanently in the EU.

Even now, a surprising number of Eurocrats still refuse to accept what has happened. Two thirds of the officials and MEPs I talk to in Brussels believe that the decision will somehow be reversed. I realise how bizarre that sounds from a British perspective, but look at it from their point of view. Eurosceptic referendums have been overturned in Denmark (twice), France, the Netherlands and Ireland (twice).

Luckily, from a Leave point of view, most Eurocrats think that the best way to change British voters' minds is through bullying. Hence the occasional talk we get about having to pay a price for leaving. It's a serious misreading of our character: threats make us more resolute. The natural reaction to talk of being punished is to say: "If the EU needs to threaten countries to stop them from leaving, then it's not a club at all, it's a protection racket."

Brexit
Eurosceptic referendums have been overturned in Denmark (twice), France, the Netherlands and Ireland (twice) (Adam Berry/ Getty Images)

Eurocrats are tetchy because they know that, had they been a bit more flexible at the beginning of the year, things would have worked out differently. We are rarely so cross as when we secretly know that we're to blame for something.

By "a bit more flexible", I don't mean offering an emergency brake on immigration: that would simply have inflamed the issue more. I mean some meaningful return of jurisdiction. Something that would have allowed David Cameron to come back and say: "Look: I've set the precedent. Power can come back to Britain rather than always going to Brussels. Let's build on that, opting out of the bits that don't suit us while staying in the common market".

Perhaps it was all a massive error, a series of diplomatic blunders like those that led to the First World War. Or perhaps the EU has simply reached the point where it cannot reform itself. Either way, the response from British voters was precisely what you'd expect: "If this is how they treat us now, before we vote, imagine how we'd be treated the day after voting to remain".

There is still a market-plus deal to be done, one which allows us to repatriate powers while remaining part of the European free trade area. In my book What Next, published today, I set out how to achieve it, in a phased and cordial way. But it is now clear that such a deal will have to be from the outside. Let's get on with it.



Originally published on 22 November, 2016

What working undercover in a factory taught me about EU migration

As part of research for his next book, James Bloodworth worked undercover in low pay jobs. In May he worked at a warehouse of one of the world's largest multinationals, and learned about how the British working class is being replaced by a foreign-born labour force – and what this meant for immigration concerns in the UK.

This is not unlike most political rows; yet it can feel like there is a rarely a middle ground on immigration. In every argument statistics are deployed, not for their accuracy, but on the basis that they will brutally strike down the argument of an opponent.

The sheer degree of bad faith has been magnified by the impending EU referendum. Immigration is one of the issues that will decide the referendum; yet it is incredibly difficult to get a true picture of the impact immigration has had on Britain since the accession of former Eastern Bloc countries to the EU in 2004.

I don't claim to be impartial – I lean toward supporting free movement - but in recent months my faith has been tested by what you might call the 'facts on the ground'.

To cut a long story short, in the process of conducting research for a book I recently worked undercover at one of the world's largest multinationals. The warehouse is situated in Rugeley, a former mining town in the Midlands, and around 80% of those I worked with were Romanian migrants. My job was to pick orders off the shelves for the firm's customers – dull and laborious work with insufficient break periods and barracks-like discipline.

I finished my four weeks in the job with heavy legs and suppurating feet, but also with a better understanding of the impact EU migration (there are now a record 2.1 million EU workers in Britain) has on unexceptional little English towns like Rugeley.

All of the following points are grossly obvious if you work in one of these jobs, but less so if immigration means no more to you than a set of figures on a balance sheet and a Spanish barista at Starbucks.

1) Most of the lowly work was done by Eastern Europeans

Around 80% of the really wretched jobs were done by Romanians.

From the perspective of the employer, the typical refrain when presented with this sort of data is 'We can't get English people to do the work'/'the locals don't want them'. The implication is that the British working class are coddled and lazy.

The implication is that the British working class are coddled and lazy.

In practice it's likely that most British workers have minimum standards relating to the work they are willing to do – standards which many of the precarious and poorly-paid jobs our economy now relies upon do not meet. That was certainly true of the local people I talked to in Rugeley. As Alex, a former miner from the town told me with respect to the work I was doing: "I wouldn't do that work. I'll make no bones about it: I wouldn't do it because I'd fall out with them [the managers] over how they treat people."

The fact that a growing number of British people are unwilling to be treated like animals by unscrupulous employers is commonly viewed as in some sense shameful, when really it is a sign of progress.

2) Most of the Romanians told me they planned to go home

Most of my co-workers said they planned to return to their country after a short period in England earning money – one, two maybe three months. It is of course impossible to verify this – they may simply have been giving this answer in response to what they interpreted as the potentially hostile questioning of an Englishman (me). It's very hard to track individual migrants, but the fact that the net migration figure – those coming in minus those leaving the UK – remains high would suggest that lots do ultimately end up staying.

3) Job expectations were lower, which matters to everyone

The company I worked for – as well as the agencies it used to find employees - got away with a good deal more because it presided over a largely foreign workforce. Most of the people I worked with had little grasp of their employment rights. We didn't receive employment contracts and my Romanian colleagues assumed that this was normal. One Romanian told me that he was fearful of complaining because he thought he might be deported. Another was underpaid and I had to phone payroll on his behalf to complain because his English was poor.

I saw many things that simply would not fly if they had been done to British nationals.

For all the partisan statistical analysis claiming to show that migration has little or no impact on wages, anyone who has done this sort of lowly work (as opposed to fulminating about it from a warm office in London) knows that a never-ending supply of docile and fearful workers has a blunting impact (though there is a debate to be had as to what extent) on pay and conditions.

If you can turn labour on like a tap - if you have a large reservoir of workers who are desperate for any work that you will give them - collective bargaining power is invariably weakened. I saw many things that simply would not fly if they had been done to British nationals.

The other point worth making is that it is far harder to unionise people who only plan to stay in the UK for a short period of time. They don't see any purpose in rocking the boat and potentially being thrown out of work. After all, it's only for a month or two.

4) Migrants were not 'stealing our jobs'

In a growing economy there is never a finite number of jobs anyway; but the notion that migrants were stopping locals from getting jobs was, in Rugeley at least, a fiction. This goes back to point 1. There was no local clamour for these jobs. There were almost no English people at the various open inductions I attended and ones I did work with quit within a month.

5) At some point you probably have to give EU migrants political rights

Many formerly working class jobs are today done by foreigners who lack political rights in the UK. According to Oxford's Migration Observatory, around 29% of foreign-born male workers are employed in elementary and processing occupations compared to 21% of their UK-born counterparts. A growing section of Britain's working class is thus almost completely politically disenfranchised (they can vote in local elections).

A growing section of Britain's working class is thus almost completely politically disenfranchised

This throws up a new challenge for the left; put some sort of lid on EU migration or expand political rights in this country to include EU workers.

As things stand, the British working class is slowly being replaced by a foreign-born labour force. In a superficial sense this is neither here nor there; but if the people who toil in British factories have no say over the political direction of the country they live and work in, it will invariably create a distorted politics in which the only voters are middle class voters. Universal suffrage will, in practice, no longer exist.

You can of course infer from all of this what you will. As I say, I don't think that reining in free movement is the answer. But I do wish that liberals would show a proper interest in the impact immigration has on industrial relations, rather than simply playing a parlour game of reeling off the calculations of effete academics cocooned in offices at progressive think-tanks in London.

Educated people should be capable of exploring the impact migration has on the relationship between labour and capital without endorsing draconian anti-migration legislation.



Originally published on 25 May, 2016

I am a Muslim - but I will not go to Mecca and support a despotic Saudi state

During the month of Ramadan, in August this year, millions of Muslims went on pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown wrote about how she refused to go due to the cruel, corrupt and tyrannical country, which is tolerated by the West due to the lucrative oil and arms trade.

Practising Muslims have only five fundamental religious obligations: we must commit to monotheism, pray, give to charity, fast during the month of Ramadan and go on pilgrimage to Mecca. I try my best to discharge these duties but will not go to Mecca.

Our sacred city, unfortunately, is in Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a base, cruel, corrupt, absolutist, tyrannical, filthy rich, destructive, ungodly clan.

They have even bulldozed precious historical and religious sites. I hope God will forgive me for my small rebellion against this evil empire. Many other Muslims are similarly revolted by the Saudi regime.

Yet for successive UK governments as well as our biddable royals, powerful elites in the US, France and other western states, these worst of Muslim rulers are the best of friends. The loyalist nations are complicit in abominable human rights abuses within the kingdom as well as catastrophic Saudi funded Islamo-fascism, wars and terrorism the world over. It can't go on. Our citizens need to hold politicians to account for aiding and abetting these crimes against humanity and political integrity.

Oxfam issued a stark statement this month about the hidden war in the Yemen where the Sunni leadership is fighting Shia rebels. We sold the arms to Saudi Arabia now being used against the Yemenis. We are violating the Arms Trade Treaty we backed and signed up to. Yes, that old, shameless British hypocrisy again – this trade has brought in 6 billion pounds.

Indiscriminate bombing has killed over 8,000 people. 82% of Yemenis are now dependent on international aid. Our government remains intensely relaxed about this military adventure. The US too, has unconditionally backed the Saudi rulers. But, unlike here, influential Americans are getting uneasy, more wary and outspokenly critical of this diplomatic love-in.

Toby Jones is associate history professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. In February this year, he wrote a grim paper for the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank: "The kingdom has become increasingly violent, beholden to dangerous pathologies and unpredictable.." The US government knows all this.

In 2009, Hillary Clinton wrote in a leaked email: "Saudi Arabia remains a critical support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups." Yes, and Isis since then. Key parts of an official report on Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 killers have been redacted. Not one of them was an Iraqi, but Americans were directed to blame Iraq. Soon after the attacks, 144 Saudis living in the USA were flown home before they could be interrogated.

Haj pilgrims
Pilgrims perform evening prayers in Mecca's Grand Mosque during the annual haj (Fayez nureldine /AFP/Getty)

US activist Medea Benjamin in her new book, (Kingdom of the Unjust Behind the US-Saudi Connection) tells it how it is , how it has been for too long: "It is not hard to connect the dots between the spread of Saudi intolerant ideology of Wahabism, the creation of Al Qaeda and Islamic State and the attacks in New York, Paris, Brussels and San Bernadino. You can also connect the dots between Saudi Arabia and the failure of some of the historic democratic uprisings associated with the Arab spring, since the Saudi monarchy did not want calls for democracy to threaten its own grip on power."

Did you know that Harry St John Philby, father of spy Kim Philby, was a colonial operator and Wahabi convert who helped to create Saudi Arabia? I have written about him in my book, Exotic England.

The majority cannot endure the lies, deceit and western support for dictators.

Oil and arms trade and business interests explain the tolerance of Saudi Arabia in the west. But now that Islamicists are here among us, causing mayhem, public opinion will shift, is shifting. Saudi Arabia is not only sponsoring violence in the east and south, it is fomenting extremism in Europe, the US and UK. Two British Muslim men are currently being tried for the murder of Jalal Uddin, an elderly imam in Rochdale. Allegedly, they were Islamic State (IS) groupies who, according to the prosecution, hated Uddin's "un-Islamic" beliefs. Clerics sponsored by Saudi Arabia tacitly back the new unholy holy war against outside and inside "infidels".

Our country is full of angry young Muslim men and women. I have talked to a few reformed jihadis and can see how intelligence, religiosity, identity clashes and duplicitous geopolitical games can lead to a nihilist mind set, set off furies. A good number turn to Wahabism because, like Bin Laden, they want the west to get out of their holy lands. But the majority cannot endure the lies, deceit and western support for dictators.

Some fantasise about savage acts while others carry them out and end up in prisons. Now the government wants to separate extreme jihadis from those who are not that hardened. Again the government prefers to act rather than think. If ministers did stop to consider the factors that produced violent Islamists, they would have to accept that they are the bastard children of Saudi Arabia and British "diplomacy". How could they bear that responsibility?



Originally published on 24 August, 2016