Once again, the papers and the politicians are incredulous that bright young Muslim men should be finding their way to troublespots to fight the jihad in one of its various forms.

A hunt is on for the “terrorist masterminds” who somehow brainwashed British kids and we can expect more money to be wasted on futile efforts to counter their propaganda by showing videos about “British values” – as opposed to looking after the British and letting them look after their values themselves.

It is surely not hard to understand the appeal of jihad if you happen to be already half-qualified to take part.

Martin Amis summed it up nicely in 2006, writing about one of the Twin Towers kamikaze pilots …

Muhammad Atta was not religious; he was not even especially political. He had allied himself with the militants because jihad was, by many magnitudes, the most charismatic idea of his generation. To unite ferocity and rectitude in a single word: nothing could compete with that.

The various militias of the Middle East offer a romantic cause, a dramatic uniform, an outside chance of glory in this world and the firm alternative promise of consolation in the next. No wonder the kids want to go. Oliver Cromwell got the same sort of excitement going in this country, once, although it didn’t last for long, thanks to the good old British values of cynicism, irreverence and distrust of the officer classes.

Somewhere last week, somebody published a letter home from a young Brit to his mates. Jihad was a blast, he said. They killed a sheep every time you were hungry and their camps were followed by strings of girls wanting to get pregnant by a hero. It must have been like it at Waterloo. But lately, our teenagers have learned of more comfortable ways to get glory and girls – as a drummer or a singer or a tv soap star.

Today’s papers are full of spine-tingling pictures of the Mahdi Army re-forming, in Iraq, to fight the opposing view of God’s will represented by ISIS and co. Don’t you wish we could look half as fearsome? If we want to keep our young hotbloods at home, we need something like it for them to join, including a uniform based on headbands and grenade vests. The Govista for British Values Everywhere? The Milibandi for No More Nonsense? The idea still needs some work, I admit.




It is unfair of New Labour to complain about the way Ed Miliband comes over to the voters when his basic problem is that he represents them a bit too accurately. He is what they are, but he does not look quite as cool as they expected.

I thought he was onto something this last week when he proposed withdrawal of dole from under-21s who are not in a job and won’t do any training. The working classes are crying out for a party which understands them well enough to be hard when necessary. The Labour Party has been losing votes for years by being too pathetically kindly all round, with your money and mine (while meanwhile selling yer actual workers down the river).

The more Mr Miliband can sound like Stalin, the better he will do. But his tough-love idea will fail because, for one thing, he will never be allowed to make it tough enough. The training will consist of watching videos rather than breaking rocks.

And anyway, more training is just another way of avoiding the real issue, like Tony Blair did when he tried to get everybody to go to university. The Old Labour constituency wants hard jobs which thick 16-year-olds can do – and will have to do if they do not work hard enough to get better.

Labour will not get the working-class vote back until it starts talking about jobs again, as opposed to paternity leave. And it cannot do much about jobs without opting out of all the free trade agreements, within Europe and worldwide, which Blair and Mandelson thought would make us all rich without pain.




I cannot quite believe what I am reading about the need to stop the banks overheating the housing market.

If I understood it correctly, our last plunge into a bucket of shit was caused by bankers lending too much mortgage money to people who were likely to become unable to pay it back and then treating the loans as rock-solid securities against which they could borrow more themselves.

Surely, after escaping mass lynchings by a whisker, they can be relied on not to do exactly the same thing all over again? And if they cannot, why did we bother saving their sorry asses?



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