Showing posts from November, 2014


UKIP, Lee Rigby and Free Speech. 
‘Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who led UKIP during the last general election, is to be reported to the speaker of the upper house, Lady D’Souza, after he suggested that the Qur’an had inspired Rigby’s killers.’[1]
The UKIP peer had said this in a speech:-
“My lords, are the government aware that Fusilier Rigby’s murderers quoted 22 verses of the Qur’an to justify their atrocity? Therefore, is the prime minister accurate or helpful when he describes it as a betrayal of Islam? Since the vast majority of Muslims are our peace-loving friends, should we not encourage them to address the violence in the Qur’an – and indeed in the life and the example of Muhammad?”[2] Labour MP Khalid Mahmood stated, “Obviously he hasn’t read the Qur’an. Islam is about submission to the Almighty. It is not about war against anybody else.” He added: “I find it absolutely offensive that this guy is still able to say this.”[3]Mr Mahmood is obviously a stranger to the notion of free s…


In 1937 when he was fighting on the Aragon front for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War George Orwell had a Nationalist soldier in his sights. However the man had just visited the latrine and was in the process of hitching up his pants, this small detail made a difference to Orwell and he did not pull the trigger. Was Orwell right? For the man who survived as a result of Orwell’s decision may have been a hardened fascist responsible for some atrocity against Republican prisoners, he may have gone on to kill some of Orwell’s own comrades. Yet I suspect that many will sympathise with Orwell’s decision. What it provides is a cameo, a little glimpse of humanity amidst the hideous barbarism of war. 

Later during the Second World War Orwell was cheered by the news of the sinking of a German U boat, he then went on to reflect that he has been made happy by the deaths of several dozen healthy young men. Amongst the multitude crimes of war is the fact that it coarsens human sensibility,…


A Fable For Our Time It was the opinion poll on the Thursday before the general election that woke the country up, showing that the Penguin now had an eight point lead. There had been straws in the wind prior to that, particularly the now famous Question Time appearance when the Penguin had squawked his belief that the country needed to become truly an island again. An island surrounded by a sea stocked plentifully with fish that belonged to us all. The audience had been given copies of the Penguin’s statement, but even at this stage some claimed to be able to understand penguin. They had greeted every squawk with rapturous applause. In the weeks that followed the Penguin momentum built, everywhere you saw Penguin posters, Penguin button badges or stickers. The ubiquitous Penguin seemed to dominate TV and press coverage of the election, though for all the coverage it was difficult to establish what the Penguin actually stood for beyond a love of the fact that we were an island surrou…


The reasons that Daesh is ultimately doomed to fail are multiple, they are military, psychological, ideological and political.  IS has control of large swathes of Syria and Iraq and in late June the group declared it had created a caliphate, or ‘Islamic state.’Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, runs a ‘state’ that is larger than Lebanon or Israel. The US Central Intelligence Agency believes IS may have up to 31,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria including tens of thousands of fighters from at least 90 different countries. Capturing oil and gas fields and the second largest city in Iraq it is by far and away the richest terrorist group that has ever existed. Its hard-core fighters from Afghanistan and Chechnya are amongst the fiercest in the world. It has at its disposal captured sophisticated American weaponry from the Iraqi Army, including M1 Abrams Battle Tanks.  Yet with all this going for it ultimately IS, or to use the Arabic term Daesh, is doomed.
The reasons that Daesh is ultimately…


On the Hunger for Respect and Approval
“All the positions I took only served to make people whom I liked and admired like and admire me, and did not save a single Jew.” W H AudenThe desire to be approved of is one of the most corrosive of human desires, for a writer it is fatal. For the majority of my life, certainly in my professional career in addictions offending and mental health, I never felt very driven by a desire to be liked or to gain the approval of others. Confident in my own abilities and with a clear sense of what I was doing, if others thought well of me all well and good, if not too bad. Of course that is not to say that there were not times that I did not enjoy being on the receiving end of the approval of others, even times when it might have influenced my behaviour; but I did not court it. When it comes to my writing however, particularly when I write about politics and current affairs I find a nagging sense in me of wanting approval. One of the reasons I chose to wr…