WHILE the West dithers President Assad of Syria mounts air strikes against the hordes of barbarians sweeping Iraq.
That of course is the same President Assad whose forces the Government was proposing to bomb less than a year ago. Had Parliament not resisted such interfering folly we might have found the present crisis even bigger and uglier.
I choose my words carefully when I refer to hordes of barbarians because that is precisely what they are. In Syria Isis has even carried out public crucifixions, a practice most of us associate with ancient Rome. They are mad, bad and cruel. This is not a case of one religious group fighting another but of a major, co-ordinated, terrifying challenge to civilisation itself from a growing body of fanatics who are as keen as Hitler was on controlling the world and eventually that means us too.
Border? If I said the same about Muslims the police would be at my door before the words were out of my mouthNor are we short of a barbarian or two in Britain. Abu Waleed lives on benefits and incites fellow extremists with visions of an Islamic Britain where Christians will have to shave their heads and wear red belts around their necks. He too is mad, bad and cruel. And what do we do? Not much. Lord Carlile, a QC and expert in anti-terrorism legislation, whimpers that the words “border on an incitement to religious hatred”.
Border? If I said the same about Muslims the police would be at my door before the words were out of my mouth.
If Waleed were just one isolated crank we need not be worried but he isn’t. Extreme Islamic fundamentalism is in schools, mosques and communities. It is a threat to the cohesion of our society, to Christians, moderate Muslims and secularists alike.
Waleed was born here so we can’t deport him back to a land where all jihadists are happy but we can make him work for the money we expend on keeping his family and we can lock him up if he incites hatred. So why don’t we?
Here’s how to get children from poor families into top universities
There is a great deal of handwringing because only 50 pupils on free school meals get into Oxbridge each year. That is despite millions of pounds being poured into outreach schemes, bursaries and funding aimed at getting poorer children to university. Meanwhile of course the independent sector mops up places in the top universities at a rate of knots.
The reason is simple enough and it is not elitism. It is poor education in too many state schools.
Outreach and bursaries are no substitutes for a sound education. In the days of grammar schools, where the teaching and work ethic were as rigorous as any on offer from public schools, the percentage of state school pupils at Oxbridge reached 57 per cent.
When, during the Thatcher years, bright children from poor families were sent to public schools on the assisted places scheme there was still some hope for those from areas where grammar schools had been destroyed.
Now a poor family from a deprived area is as likely as not to have no choice but to send their children to an under-performing school.
Grammar schools were destroyed by Labour in the 1970s and such was the triumph of ideology over practicality that the Blair government made a concerted but largely failed attempt to get rid of those which had survived, despite it being blindingly obvious by then that such schools were the deprived child’s best hope.
The reason Blair lost so many ballots on grammar schools was that parents recognised just that.
Forget outreach. Try rigour.
It’s the secret of her success
Dolly Parton, 68, who wowed Glastonbury at the weekend, extols the merits of plastic surgery. What she doesn’t realise is that even if she looked like Medusa, the wicked witch and Bessie Bunter rolled into one, that voice would still bring the men from all corners of the earth.
Miracle of two fishes
Our ancestors caught their own supper as still do thousands of enthusiastic anglers but a man of 76, Earnest Cromer, who nets a couple of fish a day on the Humber estuary, has now been told he is in breach of a by-law. His MP says it is daft and so does a neighbouring MP but bureaucracy reigns supreme.
Mr Cromer is a doctor’s dream. In old age he is keeping fit by walking to and from the estuary each day when most of us drive to the shops, he consumes a healthy diet of fresh fish and despite having had prostate cancer and a knee replacement is remaining active and independent.
You cannot blame the EU for this one. It is Britain gone bonkers. Completely bonkers.
Normal to eat in the kitchen
When I was growing up the kitchen was a focal point of the home. The dining room was for Sunday lunch, wider family gatherings and entertaining guests.
Otherwise we ate in the kitchen. It was where we gathered for pre-prandial drinks and where I did homework.
We came and went from the lounge engaged upon different activities and when there one might be reading while another watched television and another was mending. In the kitchen we were as one, participating in one conversation and one meal.
I do not blame the Duchess of Cambridge for wanting that for her family and for installing a real, family kitchen in addition to the impersonal, functional kitchen already in her London home, from which all the official entertaining will be carried out. I see it less as extravagance and more as an attempt to introduce some normalcy into the life of Prince George and any siblings. It is after all an experience of which they will not see a great deal.
No place for vigilantism
Most would agree that when people who have molested children are released from prison we should know where they are living.
We must ensure that they do not have contact with children, that they stay away from areas immediately outside school playgrounds and that, where a life sentence is concerned, their use of computers can be checked from time to time.
None of that is possible if a lynch-mob mentality prevails.
Maxine Carr did not attack any child but she covered up for Ian Huntley and now the public complains that the taxpayer spends a fortune on preserving her anonymity. Well it wouldn’t have to if she could live in peace without fear of reprisals from vengeful vigilantes.
The latest paedophile to walk among us is Robert Oliver. Released in 1997 after 10 years in jail he adopted disguises and changed his name but was still driven from homes in London, Swindon, Manchester and Milton Keynes. That is a recipe for nothing except driving released convicts underground at which point nobody knows where they are or what they are doing.
Now he is back after yet another jail sentence and the same mentality manifests itself. Public restraint is the only chance for proper monitoring. Of course children might be safer if he wasn’t free at all and I rather wish he were not but he is and that means people must be guided by their heads not by feelings.
And if there is the slightest cause for concern then it should be reported at once, not whipped up into a frenzy of terror and recrimination.