The concentric circles of blame for the Manchester attack

Salman Abedi was a weapon, to understand what happened we need to look at who aimed and fired him

Manchester vigil

A woman lights a candle at a vigil for the victims

 There is a diagram, leaked to the press by an American intelligence official that models the blast set of by Salman Ramadan Abedi in the foyer of the Manchester Arena. I have not reproduced it here out of respect of the families of the dead and maimed, but it shows where the bomb detonated and where the murdered and the injured fell. It depicts the concentric circle of death and pain that have broken the heart of Manchester. But the radius of the blast goes far beyond the shrapnel scarred walls of the Arena, just as the blame goes far beyond Abedi, the widely disliked misfit with ‘hate in his face.’

After the killer himself, it falls on those responsible for radicalising him; for taking an angry and alienated young man and helping him to turn his hate, and his body, into a weapon. Abedi was the son of a Libyan dissident and part of a tight-knit community of refugees who fled the Gadhafi regime for a Manchester suburb. As reports continue to emerge, it seems Abedi had the classic lifestyle of a western-born attacker, he drank, he smoked cannabis; he was, in short, as alienated from the spiritual aspects of his faith as from the community round him. It seems that Abedi and other members of his family were regularly in Libya after the fall of the Ghadaffi regime. It is not too much to presume that it was in the cauldron of chaos that the country has become that Abedi came into contact with the Wahabi/Salafi Jihadists who helped him to complete his journey from misfit to mass-murderer.

But when we look deeper than the man and his associates, a whole host of troubling facts emerge. Abedi was reported for his dangerous views but nothing was done. There are indications that British intelligence operated an ‘open door’ policy for Libyans wanting to travel return to their homeland to take part in both the toppling of Gadhafi and the multi-sided civil war that has plagued the country since its dictator was removed. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Middle Eastern events for the last thirty years; from the rise of the Mujahedeen in ‘80s Afghanistan to the Iraq and Syria conflicts, Western intelligence agencies have attempted to ride the tiger of jihadist militancy for short-term gain. Each time they have failed spectacularly and each time they have continued as if those failures were anomalies instead of part of a pattern.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former advisor to Jimmy Carter who passed away recently, articulated this strategy in unambiguous terms:

“What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”

Even such establishment papers as The Daily Telegraph are pointing the finger of blame at the security services for missing at least five opportunities to bring Abedi in. The fact that Abedi was, in some sense, an ‘asset’ of British intelligence, also explains why the vast majority of what we know about him came first from that American intelligence official – someone deep in the bowels of the US security establishment who will have warned of the threat that Abedi and others like him posed and been ignored.

So after the killer and those who radicalised him, we can see that the role our own intelligence agencies played makes them culpable, either through their negligence or by enabling Abedi to receive the indoctrination and training that he did whilst allowing him to remain free.

Intelligence agencies, however, do not act on their own, they are mere instruments of the politicians who direct them. The combination of ideologically driven and ineffective domestic counter-extremism policies like Prevent and continued support in the Middle East for military interventions and the very regimes most responsible for spreading the hateful innovation of Whahbism mean that there is blood on the hands of politicians from Washington to London to Paris.

It is a horrible synchronicity that just the day before the attack, Donald Trump was in Saudi Arabia, praising the Kingdom’s stand against terrorism and (in a speech that bizarrely did not even mention ISIS) laying the blame for all the world’s terrorism at the door of Iran whilst agreeing a deal to sell hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

The orb

King Salman (unelected), General SISI (brought to power by a military coup) and Donald Trump (who lost the popular vote) are keeping the world safe for democracy.

But it was not Iran that enabled the attack; it was not the Islamic Republic’s Shia Islam that provided the ideological justification for the murder of 22 innocents. Instead it was the network of madrassas, militants and hardline mullahs that has been created and supported by Saudi and its Gulf allies across the Muslim world over the last fifty years. Our leaders, then, must take their share of the blame, both for engaging in the interventions that destabilised counties like Lybia, Syria and Iraq and for directly supporting with weapons and political cover those nations which promote Jihadists and the vile perversion of Islam that they preach.

Finally, there is some blame to be laid at the door of us Muslims – although not in the sense that the far-right would have it. We are not all ticking time bombs waiting to go off, but too many of us have for too long, allowed bigotry to go unchallenged. Yes it is true that Abedi was reported, but many of the views he held still find safe haven in the whispering corners of the hearts of some Muslims who have been happy to take Gulf money and allow the insidious influence of the ideology it promotes to define our debates around engagement and integration. Overt calls to violence might be decried, but statements like “Shias are kafirs” have gone unchallenged because they conform to deeply held prejudices. As a result, the monster of takfirism – excommunicatory logic – has grown and now many mainstream Sunni groups find themselves under suspicion. It will only be a matter of time before they, too are in the crosshairs.

Islam strongly discourages the act of takfir because it us up to Allah alone to judge our hearts, but it has long been the go-to tactic of far too many of those who whose understanding of Islam comes from the Wahabi or Salafi schools on in the Arab world and their Deobandi analogue on the Indian Sub-continent. It is a logic that cannot go unchallenged. And yes, that means we must pronounce takfir upon the takfiris. There are some who will be squeamish about this, who will say that it makes us no different to those we are combatting. This is a logical fallacy, a pathetic and cowardly excuse. There is no equivalence between those perpetrating violence and encouraging bigotry on the one hand and those who refuse to put up with it on the other. The line must be drawn somewhere, and if not here, then where?

What I learned arguing with Trumpers

potusffs

Nothing about this is pretty

Some observations from a British Muslim leftie just arrived in the USA

Land of the Freakout

Just under a month ago, I arrived in the USA where I’m planning to start a PhD in September. Needless to say, my plans were made before a certain…electoral event took place.

Since I arrived, I’ve spent far more of my time than is healthy time arguing with Trump supporters (and just about everyone else) on Twitter – particularly since the Muslim ban was put in place. This was not out of any hope of converting them, but to get a feel for what they think, how they argue and the political culture they operate in. This is what I’ve learned:

  1. I agree with a lot of their grievances

This is not in itself surprising. The polling shows that many of them would have voted for Bernie and much of Trump’s messaging in the lead up to the election was anti-NeoLiberal (even if they might not recognise it as such). Globalisation took their jobs, a string of unnecessary wars has killed or maimed their sons and daughters, made them feel less safe and perhaps worst of all, dented the sense of American exceptionalism that is intrinsic to their identities.

Many of them were angry about the bailouts and foreign policy failures in the Middle East, about unaffordable healthcare and a world that has let them down.

They just seemed incapable of blaming it on anything other than a strawman liberalism constructed for them from a mishmash of Fox News articles and half-remembered Reaganism. A huge part of that, I suspect, is the extent to which Cold War indoctrination made capitalism and patriotism synonymous in America. The myth that every American can make it is a hard one to give up on and for many on the right attacking the ultra-rich oligarchs that have infiltrated their democracy feels at some instinctive level like an attack on their future selves.

  1. American politics is almost inconceivably tribal

Despite the commonalities, it was striking how angry they were at liberals at a cultural rather than just a political level. Much of their rhetorical approach was to attempt to activate my own tribalism. They were nonplussed when I refused to defend many of the actions of Clinton and Obama on the basis that I’m British and it wasn’t ‘my side’ that enacted them. They appeared to have trained themselves to take on the fixed positions and expected to rile me into a fixed response. When I didn’t rise to it, some got enraged and blocked me, others actually showed a measure of humanity towards me. Several came with words to the effect that ‘I’m sorry if you’re affected, but the world is a mess and we need to keep our citizens safe.’

The Muslim ban isn’t the way to do that, of course, the way to do that is to stop supporting countries like Saudi and Qatar that promote the Wahabi ideology that underpins terrorism undertaken in the name of Islam and to stop toppling regimes and starting wars across the region, but it was a big climbdown from ‘I consider you a traitor to this country.’

Conversely, when I suggested to some liberals that treating every single person that voted for Trump as a persona non-grata might entrench difference rather than overcome it, I was told I was insane. I was surprised at how quickly the side that I agree with excommunicated me. Now I haven’t been in the country long and I can understand how arguing with unhinged, counterfactual nastiness could wear you down but it was disappointing to see the side that claims to be humane and reasoned acting so similarly to its opponents.

  1. The ‘liberal’ wing of the Islamophobia industry has a hell of a lot to answer for

People like Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Majed Nawaz and Asra Nomani have spent years projecting a vision of Islam as a threat to liberal values. This has driven some members of some groups – particularly feminists and the LGBT community – to take up anti-Muslim stances that place them in much closer proximity to the Trumpists than they would ever admit.

The understanding of Islam that these supposed liberals project is the same as the one that ISIS would have you believe is the whole of Islam. Whilst they utterly repudiate Trump, they have given a great deal of cover to the narratives that fuelled his rise. I do not think I would be hearing from misogynists about how Islam tramples women’s rights, from gay-bashers about how Islam throws homosexuals off cliffs or from anti-Semites about the plight of Jews under Islam were it not for the anti-Muslim animus of those within the liberal movement who have spent years promoting and honing these arguments.

A lot of the blame for that must go to the assumption, common to many American liberals before the rise of Trump, that they had won the big battles and so could move on to correcting the deviances of minorities. This approach has allowed a lot of thoroughly illiberal people to ease their consciences at the same time as endorsing a suite of ideas that have enabled a demagogue to rise.

  1. Any resistance will need to carry principled Republicans with it

Before I left the UK, I had a conversation with a female Muslim colleague who is married to an American convert from a Republican family. “Trump didn’t surprise me” she said “because American liberals failed to carry conservatives with them, they just moved to the coast.” My own experience bears this out. I’ve met a fair few Republicans who either voted for Trump because they were voting for their party or who sat this one out. I know that I’m supposed to rage, to tell them they are stupid and abhorrent and that they’ve screwed us all – and sometimes when my anger gets the better of me, I want to do just that. But telling people they are awful is a poor tool for persuasion and and pretending there is not such thing as a principled Republican is just childish. How many of the 1,000 diplomats that signed a letter against the Muslim ban, for example, are likely to be card carrying Democrats.

The Donald may not have won the popular vote, he may have relied on working the electoral college, but the system that elected him is the system that must be worked with. If it is to be taken back from his tiny hands intact, we will need Republicans to come along with us. And that means not arguing against him just from our own beliefs, using arguments that could have been applied to any Republican president, but from the beliefs of those on the right.

That is difficult to stomach – I don’t relish being told that my religion makes me inherently disloyal and threatening – but we are asking a great deal of conservatives. We are asking them to choose their higher ideals above their tribe and the only way we can succeed is to embody our own highest ideals, to allow them a way to be anti-Trump without requiring them to cross the wide gulf between Republican and Democrat.

We can argue afterwards about what kind of democracy we want to see, for now it is more important to protect the democracy itself. The progressive politics I believe in leads by example, it takes the high road – not at the expense of principle and certainly not as a form of appeasement – but because at its core is a recognition that all human beings are equal in dignity and deserves to be treated as such, even the ones whose beliefs we find unpalatable.

We will slip, we will rage and we will, from time to time let ourselves down, but we must aim to embody that ideal. If the American left cannot find in itself the courage, forbearance and spiritual discipline to do so, then it will lose, and it will deserve to.

Fiction: Levantine Gothic

Desert Rats Part I

A special forces team sent to rescue a missing archaeologist find something terrifying buried deep beneath the desert sands gothic-soldier

The chopper rose slowly, kicking up a storm of dust and grit as it banked sharply to the left. For a moment it was a black silhouette against the brilliance of the desert stars and then it was gone, the roar of its rotors
fading to a thumping low hum and then to a ringing silence that was more than just the mere absence of noise.

Elliot picked up his backpack and walked away form the landing zone towards the low dune where the soldiers were crouched in a defensive posture. Their commander, a large American named Coyle had a map spread out before him.

“I’ve sent two men to scout the dune.” Coyle said, “This map is not accurate.”

“Not accurate?” Elliot asked.

Coyle pointed “Here and here.” He said. “The diggings are where they are supposed to be, but the buildings are not.”

“It was based on the latest intelligence.” Elliot protested.

“Well the intelligence is wrong. This,” Coyle placed one thick finger on a blank space near the diggings “should be open ground, but there’ some kind of bunker there now.”

“Bunker?” Elliot asked.

“Peyton,” Coyle called to one of his men. “Tell him what you saw.”

Peyton, a wiry little man with an air of barely suppressed violence, took up a pencil and drew an oblong. It was two inches on the map, perhaps a hundred feet in life.

“Thick concrete, sloped wall, small windows with bars. And a pair of steel doors like a missile silo. Guard towers on each corner.”

“How could they have built it so quickly?” Elliot asked himself, only realizing he had spoken aloud when Coyle responded.

“You tell me, Mr Intelligence Man.”

“We did a flypast a month ago, there was nothing then.”

“They were in a hurry, it seems. Murderous savages they might be, but they can get things done when they put their minds to it.”

“Private Peyton,” Elliot said, turning to the wiry little man, “was there any clue what they might be using it for?”

“Hard to say sir, but the searchlights face inwards and the lines of sight are terrible for defence. I’d guess it’s a prison, sir, designed to keep people in, not out.”

Coyle motioned Elliot. “This is not in our mission plan,” he said when they were alone. “We’re not equipped to assault a hardened structure, this isn’t safe. I suggest we abort.”

“Lieutenant, you have your orders and I have mine. This mission is a priority for the coalition.”

“This desert is crawling with militias, government troops, our guys, Russians and Iranians and a dead archeologist and his notebook are a priority?”

“We don’t know that professor Kathum is dead and his research has huge value, both for science and for the propaganda war.” Eliot paused. “I shouldn’t have to tell you, lieutenant, that this is above all a battle for hearts and minds.”

“We lost the battle for hearts and minds ten years ago in Fallujah.” Coyle said, not quite under his breath.

“All the more reason to make this mission a success, Coyle. Now please gather your men.” Elliot nodded towards the east where the first green glow of the false dawn was lightening the horizon. “We don’t have much time.”

Coyle saluted him with a crispness that bordered on the sarcastic, “Sir, yes, sir!” and stalked off to prepare his men.

Coyle and his translator, Rafiq waited with the two soldiers at the top of the dune while Coyle and his squad fanned out and began their approach.

Through a borrowed pair of night vision goggles, Elliot watched as the soldiers covered the open ground with the quick, crouched steps of special forces commandoes. Three of them reached the first outbuilding, creeping up to the door and windows with a boneless fluidity. They swarmed in together and then moments later reappeared to give the all clear.

A second team followed behind while the first gave cover. They entered the next building, a corrugated iron shed and again, reappeared to give the all clear. Within half an hour, Coyle’s men had the entire western side of the compound secure.

The radio of one of the soldiers guarding Elliot crackled to life. It was Coyle: “It looks clear, bring everyone down.”

Following the soldiers, Elliot and Rafiq half slid, half ran down the opposite face of the dune. Elliot got to his feet and began walking across the open ground, only to be pulled down by one of the soldiers.

“Stay low, stay close!” The man hissed at him.

“Coyle said it was safe.”

The man gave Elliot a contemptuous stare. “He said it looks clear. Nothing is ever safe in a war zone. Take a look around you, Mr Intelligence, dunes, rocks, scrub and ditches, there could be anything hiding out there.”

Elliot looked out across the huge emptiness, sky and sand stretched out towards nothing. They were very alone out here. Very alone and very exposed. Chastened, he covered the rest of the distance close and low. By the time he reached the outbuildings, it was light enough to see without the goggles.

Coyle was waiting for him inside the largest of the buildings. A two storey house made of breeze blocks and pocked with bullet holes.

Elliot entered the building, ducking through the low front door and into a small, dark room, empty but for a large wooden desk and chair. The sole light source was a low wattage bulb dangling from the ceiling by a frayed wire.

“This place is deserted.” Coyle said. He nodded to a mug sitting near the edge of the desk. Elliot peered into it. It had once been coffee, but now contained a thick layer of mould. “Four or five days at least. We were told this place was swarming.”

Coyle was right. Intel had shown at least fifty fighters and three times that many workers coursing rhe site for treasures and antiquities that they could sell on to finance their endless war.

“Could they be holed up in the new building?”

“Maybe, but why leave no sentries, no scouts, no booby traps. This isn’t their style at all.”

“So what do we do, Lieutenant?”

We secure these buildings and then wait for the sun to come fully up. Then we take a look around.”

“Shouldn’t we use the cover of darkness while we have it?”

“IF anyone’s still here, they’ll start moving once its light. If there isn’t at least we’ll be able to see what the hell is going on. None of this feels right, Mr Elliot and I want the clear light of day before I send my men any further.”

Elliot opened his mouth to reply but before he could, Petyon called out from the far corner of the room. “Sir, you should see this.”

Elliot followed Coyle to where Peyton was standing. Looking down he saw a heavily stained carpet half pulled back to reveal a trap door set into the concrete floor.

Coyle gestured to the two men who pulled the carpet fully back and lifted the trapdoor, grunting with the effort. As the door opened, however, both men stepped back, gagging and let it drop.

“Oh Jesus.” One of them called out, before bending double and dry heaving.

The others covered their mouths and noses. The stench that came from the trapdoor was vile, thick enough to taste, sickly sweet with the smell of decay and cut through with a chemical reek like burned hair and plastic.

Following the others’ lead, Elliot pulled his neckerchief over his mouth and nose and pulled his sand goggles over his eyes. He followed Coyle as the man took a flashlight in one hand and his sidearm in the other and began a careful descent into the chamber below.

The steps were steep and narrow, more a ladder than a stair and slick with an organic dampness. Even through his neckerchief, Elliot could still taste the decay. It was strong enough to make him lightheaded and he had to grab the wall more than once to steady himself.

By the time he reached the bottom, Coyle had already dropped a flare and was taking photographs. With his first steps into the chamber, he felt a thick slush, cold and ankle deep. He suppressed a shudder.

By the searing light of the flare, he could make out a room perhaps twenty feet square, with a low ceiling and thick walls. The room had a strange warmth to it, like the decompositional heat of a compost heap.

At the centre of the room was a something resembling a dentist’s chair, surrounded by electrical equipment, wires and screens. On a medial trolley nearby sat a vicious array of saws and blades. Heavily used by the look of them.

Several large syringes, like those used to tranquilise horses, floated in the sludge.

The chair, he noted, was equipped with head, arm and leg restraints.

As Elliot came closer, he could make out that the far wall was lined with cabinets full of specimen jars “What is this place?” He asked Coyle, though he already feared he knew the answer.

“A playroom.” Coyle responded without a hint of sarcasm. “They torture people for fun, not for information, just for the sheer joy of making pain.”

One of the cabinets caught Elliot’s eye. Unlike the others, its door was ajar. He opened it fully to examine the content by his flashlight.

His heart froze.

“Coyle.” He said, whispering hoarsely around the sudden constriction in his throat. “What’s this?”

One of Coyle’s men was beside him. The man reached into the cabinet and pulled out a foot long gas canister. As he turned it in his hands, a skull and bones became visible through a thick layer of dust.

“Soldier!” Coyle yelled. “Put that down.” The man started, instinctively dropping the canister. It fell to the floor with a clang and began to hiss and bubble in the sludge.

“Everyone out!” Coyle screamed.

Elliot turned and ran, taking the stairs two at a time. “Gas!” He cried as he sprinted past the soldiers upstairs, out of the building and away, away from that terrifying room. He sprinted until his legs gave way beneath him and he fell.

Lying with his face in the dust, he looked back. The men upstairs had got clear. Coyle and two others were still sprinting away form the building. As Elliot watched, the last man, the one who had picked up the canister, screamed and fell, clutching at his head. He pulled himself upright and for a flashing second, Elliot saw something that seemed almost inhuman. It was bloody, bulging and raw, it seemed to steam and bubble and the eyes, staring straight at him, were like holes cut in the fabric of space.

Then the man fell again. Elliot heard Coyle scream “Blow it! Blow it! Blow it!” and then the whistling yelp of an anti-tank missile slamming into the building followed by a flash of light and thump like a punch to the chest.

Elliot pulled himself up to lean against a rock. The panic was taking control of him His vision narrowed and darkened. He stared blankly ahead and noted, through a fear stricken haze that it was not mud on his boots after all.

Instead, below the patina of dust they had acquired during his flight was an almost syrupy layer of blackish red, such as one might find on a slaughterhouse floor.

Just before he passed out, he recalled one, strange detail from the underground chamber. The restrains on the chair were loose, but not as if they had been unclasped.

Rather, they were ripped from their anchors, as if whoever had been held there had torn themselves free.

 Part II coming soon

 

 

 

 

 

Britain has voted decisively for incoherence, and we need to pull together to deliver it

 

Star Rising

Our star is rising

The nation has spoken, and  after a festival of democracy the whathefuxit camp has a clear mandate to forge a new, less comprehensible Britain

 

If EU leave me now, you take away the Brexit part of me

The British public has spoken in a clear, unequivocal voice that must be heeded by those in power. The nation is sick of experts with their facts and analysis; it has had enough of leaders with their detailed plans for what to do when things occur; it is fed up of so-called ‘reality’ and giving up its freedom to the laws of causality: the UK wants to take back shambolic, delusional ineptitude and wants it now.

The hummus-munchers of Islington may not like it, but the winds of change are blowing and new leaders like Etonian Boris, former Times and Spectator journalist Gove and investment banker Farage are the face of a new, anti-establishment Britain that won’t take no, yes or even maybe for an answer.

The Labour Party is leading the way, its MPs striking a blow for bewilderment by moving to axe Jeremy Corbyn, blaming his equivocal views on Europe for single-handedly dragging the country into Brexit. You can see their point – with a possible snap election in the offing, the last thing Labour want is to put a Eurosceptic leader in front of a Eurosceptic public and risk increasing vote share. Moreover, with the Tories in crisis following the resignation of David Cameron, Labour must quickly follow suit or risk being seen as out of touch with the political currents of the time.

Thankfully the Conservatives are demonstrating that their finger is also firmly on the pulse of the nation. Boris Johnson has moved swiftly and decisively to implement his comprehensive one-point plan by declaring for the Tory leadership running from the almighty mess he’s made while insisting, quite correctly, that just because the UK voted to leave the EU, it doesn’t mean we should invoke Article 50 now or, indeed, ever. He has used our vastly improved negotiating position to demand that Britain be allowed to stay in the common market while not allowing free movement or fulfilling any obligations towards the other member states, confounding the Eurocrats who are struggling to keep up with such agile thinking.

 

No Bregrets

Of course, there are some flies in the ointment. The Scots and the Northern Irish are refusing to accept the democratic will of the English people and insisting that because they are nations in their own right and they voted overwhelmingly to remain, they should not be dragged out of the EU against their will. At a time when the Pound is plummeting, the markets are in chaos and racist incidents are on the rise, their arrogance beggars belief. Now is the time for us all to pull together, not to arbitrarily leave political and economic unions that underpin our security and economic stability.

There are also some who voted to leave that are now claiming they were duped. Some of these so-called Bregretters claim they were promised the £350m a week the UK sends to the EU would be spent on saving the NHS from Tory cuts, others that they were promised an end to migration, especially from Muslim countries. Neither claim stacks up: the £350m figure is sheer fantasy, plucked from thin air and no promises were made about immigration. After all, there isn’t a single Muslim country in the EU, so why would anyone have promised that leaving would prevent hordes of ISIS refujihadis coming here?

Bus promise

These faked images have been circulated on social media, probably by ISIS

 

There are also claims that Brexit has given a green light to racists to attack and abuse immigrants. These claims are patently false, backed only by eyewitness testimony (which is intrinsically biased) and mobile phone footage. There is no evidence that these supposed attacks haven’t been staged as false flags by embittered remainers, and even if some of them did genuinely occur, there is a huge logical leap between someone yelling ‘Go home, we voted for you to leave’ and assuming that such attacks were caused by the referendum.

The idea that it was only racists that voted to leave is further confounded by the fact that many Muslims and Asians voted for Brexit. Their thinking was simple, with European migrants gone, the door would open to commonwealth countries. And they are absolutely correct, we will welcome New Zealanders, Canadians, Australians and Bermudans with open arms to do the jobs that British workers just don’t have the skills for.

And then, of course, there is Jeremy. He and his tiny band of 200,000 supporters have shown utter contempt for the ordinary, hard-working MPs who voted overwhelmingly to get rid of him and whose daily struggles they clearly do not understand. Even worse, when the country needs stability and strong leadership, he is refusing to step aside to allow the three month campaign of bitterness and recrimination that would make that happen.

Breaking up on Breentry

We were warned that Brexit would lead to chaos, that the Pound would fall, racism would rise, Scotland would go its own way and big business would pull out of the UK, taking thousands of jobs with them. So far, only events back up any of these conclusions, revealing Project Fear for what it was – exactly the kind of evidence-based analysis of cause and effect that the British people have had enough of.

The big risk now is making those dire predictions a self-fulfilling prophecy and we must act quickly to prevent that. All visible foreigners should be tattooed with a Union flag to ensure their loyalty;  Merkel needs to be informed in no uncertain terms that as bit-part players on the world stage, neither Germany nor the EU have any say in when, whether or how we choose to leave and the rebellious Picts and Gaels need a show of force. It is worth remembering that the majority of soldiers in the army are drawn from Scotland  and so will be assisted in their mission by a cultural affinity with local people.

The totalitarian project of European domination – begun by Hitler and today embodied by Frau Junker, Herr Merkel and Oberleutnant Sturgeon is faltering in the face of British pluck. Just like at Dunkirk, the siege of Singapore,the charge of the Light Brigade and the performance of our brave lions in Euro 2016, Brexit has demonstrated our national character to the world -nobody can have any doubt who we are as a people or what we are capable of when put to the test.

 

 

 

 

Old England’s Done

Who do you think you are kidding.pngWith Brexit, the UK takes its last, doddering steps off the world stage and into delusional senility

A Tale of Two Nations

In 1981, Salman Rushdie wrote of a ‘little empire’ within the UK. The British had, he argued, replaced control over external dominions with internal colonies made up of immigrants from its overseas possessions. In so doing, it deferred much of the psychological trauma that might otherwise have followed from its sudden loss of status.

Today, that little empire fell, as England decided that it had had enough of the world and withdrew into a rose-tinted delusion of village greens, cucumber sandwiches and giving those damn continentals what for.

The United Kingdom started as an imperialist enterprise. Ireland was brought into it by force, Scotland by the lure of the profit, particularly in the wake of its own failed attempt to set up trading posts in the Americas. When the profit motive was no longer there, it was only a matter of time before the concord between the peoples of these islands would begin to fray.

Scotland is as good as gone. Just two years ago 45 per cent of its population voted to leave the UK, despite a ferocious cross-party campaign of fear and intimidation. Today, with every single constituency returning a remain vote, it seems impossible to imagine that the 300 year old union between the two kingdoms of mainland Britain will last more than a couple of years.

The country split almost down the middle, with 52 per cent voting to leave and 48 per cent to stay in. Those who voted to leave were overwhelmingly English, provincial and old. Those who voted to stay in, young, multicultural and urbanised. They thought this was their country to shape for the future, but it was ancient grudges against Jaques Delors and a world view that was old-fashioned even in 1979 that carried the day.

Even Jeremy Clarkson voted in.

Bad politics, bad politicians

The tenor of the debate was atrocious. Both sides are guilty of patronising, fearmongering and failing to make a lucid case – in other words politics as usual. But the truth is, this could never have been about the intimate details of the EU charter, it could never have been a cold calculation of cost and benefit, because for the last 40 years our politics has been deliberately dumbed down and the field of acceptable debate narrowed to inconsequential issues.

The referendum itself only took place because David Cameron needed to promise Tory Eurosceptics something to stop them from bleeding to UKIP. The conversation, such as it was, was about sovereignty and immigration. The idea that we might ‘take back control’ was paramount, any ideas of what we might do when we have it, well, the point is we’ll have control and when we have control, control is what we’ll have. Did you know there are 500 EU regulations about pillows?

Many of the strongest arguments against Brexit – protection for workers, the ability for British citizens to work freely on the continent, the stability that comes from belonging to a large bloc – were all off the table because they are almost inevitably anti-Tory. There was much talk of the disenfranchised white working class, but with respect to their whiteness, not their working class identity. Such things are outside the lexicon of our Neo-Liberal consensus and impolitic in a country that did, after all, vote for this government twice.

And so it became about identity. It became about being able to say something, to matter, just once. And nobody made the point that this might not be the best time to rock the boat, nobody said that perhaps it was not Europe that was the source of our woes, but successive generations of British politicians who have pursued broadly the same social and economic policies, doing the same thing again and again in the hope of a different result.

Of course, there were many people who voted leave who were genuinely concerned that the bendiness of their bananas was being regulated or that the money spent on the EU could better be spent on the NHS. But these people did so well aware that the unintended but inevitable consequence of their decision would be the kind of chauvinistic nationalism that had Nigel Farage claiming victory ‘without a shot being fired.’

Even though a shot was fired and a brilliant passionate young MP, a wife and a mother was slain by a man who gave his name in court as ‘Death to Traitors, Freedom for Britain.’

A green and pleasant land

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps as a Muslim and the son of immigrants, I have a skewed perspective. Perhaps Europe, and people like my parents, hard-working decent people who’ve helped to drive the national economy are the problem.

Maybe all that needs to happen to #MakeBritainGreatAgain is for the drawbridges to be pulled up, the Poles politely asked to leave and the European working time directive  and those pesky human rights to be abolished . Or maybe not, we will find out soon enough.

Jo Cox’s death was horrific, but for me the most poignant moment of the campaign was hearing the TV next door turned on for an hour each night as my Romanian neighbour, a trader with one of the big banks, listened diligently to the back and forth that would decide her fate in this country.

She’s not part of the new Brexit Britain, and neither, I suspect, am I. But I’m sure that England can manage without us and without the hundreds of thousands who will either be forced to leave, or choose to do so having had it made to clear they are not welcome. And that doesn’t even count the young native British who will be wondering how on earth they are supposed to make their way in the world when so much of it has suddenly been cut off to them.

But as we move towards whatever happens next, into a world where an outdated notion of sovereignty matters more than a stable, viable country. It is hard not to see this as the culmination of the process Rushdie described, part of a vast historic arc that began in 1801 and to find it rather fitting that the nation that conquered the world has, in what surely must be its final act, conquered itself.

 

The Doctor is out again: Is it ethical for Junior Doctors to withdraw emergency cover?

The arguments around the dispute have been muddied by all sides, but if we strip back to the key issues, the answer is clear

Hunt Final OfferThe argument from labour relations

It is a generally accepted tenet of free societies that individuals have a right to withdraw their labour as a method of negotiating with their employer and that people cannot be coerced into working under conditions they have not agreed to.

This right is especially important when individuals are working under one set of conditions and the employer decides unilaterally to change them.

This is the case with the junior doctors.

They signed up for a whole career for service with the NHS, including making life plans based on their expected earnings. This is part of the social contract between doctors and society – we train them, they stay and look after us.

The proposals put forward by the DoH radically alter the expectations doctors had when they signed up about how they would be living and working. The argument that the service they deliver is so important that they cannot withdraw it is invalid – if the service is vital to society, it is up to the government to ensure that those who provide it feel valued.

There is of course a need to balance this against public finances, but if skilled workers are not happy with the conditions they are offered, they will go elsewhere. It might well be the case that the stock in trade of this particular set of skilled workers is saving lives, but that does not mean they exempt from the basic principles of labour relations.

We accept that we can’t tax the bankers too hard, so why do we believe that it is any different for doctors?

To take an analogy from the business world:

Imagine you own a company. You have a supplier. The supplier is meeting all their contractual obligations. You unilaterally inform the supplier that you want to renegotiate the contract to procure more items at a lower unit cost. The supplier refuses and stops supplying you. You tell the supplier that the item they supply is too valuable for it not to be supplied and that they must agree to the new contract. Despite having skills that are in high demand all over the world, the supplier inexplicably goes against their personal interest and agrees to work at the reduced rate.

 That’s what the government wants us to believe should happen with the Junior Doctors.

The argument from social capital

The only reason the government is able to put forward such an improbable scenario is because they know doctors take their payment in more than just hard cash.

Of course they have relatively high salaries, but they are more than capable enough to have gone into banking if money was their object. They also gain some considerable social standing, but this could have been achieved by becoming a lawyer.

But the government is relying on the fact that kind of person that becomes an NHS doctor is driven, at least in part; by the satisfaction they derive from being of service to society.

This is proven by the relatively low numbers who have, until recently, taken their training abroad or to the private sector.

To use that against them, by suggesting they should accept worse working conditions because the actions they are pushed into taking to negotiate better ones would endanger patients, is emotional blackmail.

And the attempt at emotional blackmail proves that even those spinning the opposite don’t believe doctors to be unfeeling to the point where they would happily trade patients lives for a few extra quid and a round of Sunday golf. They wouldn’t attempt it if they didn’t think Junior Doctors were not invested in a human way in their jobs and their patients.

This applies as much to the withdrawal of emergency cover as it does to previous less comprehensive strikes. If anything, it drives home the importance of the service doctors provide and the risks of taking it for granted.

The argument from medical ethics

The Hippocratic injunction to ‘do no harm’ has been quoted by many of those who argue that the doctors should not strike or that withdrawing emergency cover is morally wrong.

But doctors trained to trade off long-term and short-term imperatives every day in the attempt to provide care that meets all the needs of the patient.

They know that sometimes invasive surgery, untried experimental procedures or amputations are necessary for the wellbeing of the patient over time.

To argue that an all out strike ‘does harm’ without considering the wider impact of the proposed new contract on patients and the long-term viability of the NHS is deliberately reductive.

The assessment is not whether the strike puts patients at risk. It is obvious that it does. The question is whether this risk is greater than the long term harm that doctors claim is in the new contract.

When making this assessment, it is up to the public to bear in mind the vested interests on both sides. The doctors’ interest is plain, but the government also has enough at stake for its position to bear scrutiny.  It made a promise regarding the 7-day NHS that it did not realise would be so difficult to keep. Its credibility rests on this achievement.

In the end it is a question of trust: do we believe the physicians, or an ex PR and education textbook publisher who has openly declared that privatisation should be the long-term goal for the NHS?

It is possible to make arguments on both sides, but there’s a reason nobody ever said ‘trust me I’m a spin doctor’ and meant it.

The political argument

The political argument is in some ways the most straightforward: The government has a mandate to create a 7 day NHS, albeit one based on only 36 per cent share of the vote and somewhat undermined by consistent polling data that shows the public blames the government and supports the doctors.

While not explicitly stated, it might be assumed that this would be achieved by greater investment rather than by spreading what’s already there more thinly.

The fact that the government has chosen this approach means the goal is achieving the letter, not the spirit of the promise. This is spin as policy and bad government. There is not much more to it than that.

The government knows this. That’s why unnamed sources are upping the stakes by claiming the ‘radical’ unionized ‘militants’ of the British Medical Association – a sentence that would have seemed absurd a year ago – are trying to topple the government.

Of course they aren’t, they’re fighting for their pay and working conditions in the face of a unilateral change to existing contracts and an attempt at unilateral imposition.

The accusation that Junior Doctors are trying to bring down the government belongs to the ‘he repeatedly attacked my fist with his face’ school of logic. When middle class professionals, who have chosen a career where they give back to society rather than taking from it, are this angry for this long and prepared to take action that is unprecedented in the history of the NHS, the government is bringing itself down.

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IPSOS MORI Poll April 2016

Muslims need to understand that rejecting us is the same as supporting ISIS

URGENT STATEMENT FROM THE QUISLING FOUNDATION

Quisling Tongue 2

The courageous hard-working and selfless men and women of the Quisling Foundation have dedicated themselves to the betterment of the Muslims community in the UK and across the world.  We are the Muslim Community’s brightest and best and all we have ever tried to do is use our talents to take on the extremism that blights our communities.

For years we have endured ridicule, harrassment and threats. It is a double insult that so much of the bile and vitriol that has been directed at us has come from self-appointed community leaders. Insulting because it happens at all and insulting because it happens to us, the brave few who have volunteered themselves to shepherd the Muslim community through its transition into a religion compatible with liberal modernity.

We have been accused of fronting a government-sponsored ideological vetting program when all we’ve done is use taxpayers money to help the security services and the media expose those whose beliefs threaten the British way of life.

We have been described as Liberal interventionists, simply for attempting to restructure the values and political views of Muslim communities according to our own beliefs.

Most recently there has been a smear campaign  against our founder, Maagreb Namaz, that is unprecedented even by the barrel-scraping standards of the Internet.

The smears include claims that Mr Namaaz has taken money from American right-wingers that also fund the US Tea Party – despite there being no evidence to support this other than highly tendentious, biased and selective reading of our accounts and financial records.

There have been even more outrageous claims: that Mr Namaaz exaggerated his credentials as a former Islamist; that he has facilitated the legitimisation of Electricite De France (EDF) leader Robby Tomlinson despite indications that the Tomlinson remains a swivel-eyed racist lunatic; that he has no intellectual background in Islamic Studies and is little more than a pompous narcissistic windbag with a Messiah complex.

 

Tommy Robinson EDL Pegida

Quisling has an undeniable track record when it comes to changing hearts and minds

Nothing could be further from the truth: Mr Namaaz is a man whose level of integrity is plain for all to see. He has dedicated the part of his life not spent espousing the simplistic, destructive fundamentalism of Islamic extremists to combatting it using its own logic and methodology.

But Mr Namaaz is an articulate, intelligent,and well spoken (not to mention charismatic and handsome) man, who can defend himself. Some of those who have been so mercilessly targeted don’t have that luxury.

Quisling has recently recruited the respected Imam, Sheikh Modareti. Modareti’s anti-extremist credentials are second to none, having studied at the greatest institutions in the Islamic world, including the esteemed University of Dagenham.

Far from being thanked for his efforts, Modareti has been pilloried to the point where he felt he had to resign from his teaching post the extremist Totteridge Youth and Community Centre. Soon after he resigned, it emerged that there is no evidence his life has not been threatened.

So-called liberals have not only failed to speak out, but are actively defending this behaviour and even taking part in attacks against us. The rot is so deep that it even reaches the heart of the establishment, with QCs, Human Rights Activists and the NUS joining a campaign to give succour to ISIS. Recently a select committee of Islamist MPs engaged in what can only be described as state-sponsored persecution by questioning our credentials and achievements in a ridiculous attack that makes a mockery of the Mother of Parliaments.

By voicing their opposition to Modareti and abusing freedom of speech to make scandalous allegations against Namaaz on the basis of mere evidence, British Muslims have once again demonstrated what Quisling has always believed: that Islam must undergo a Reformation to make it compatible with Human Rights. The more they reject our efforts to better them, the more clearly they show why we are needed.

The Qusiling Foundation therefore has no option but to inform the British Muslims that it has been authorised by Her Majesty’s Government to pronounce takfir on all those who continue to voice objections to HMG’s counter-extremism agenda or to be critical of the Quisling Foundation’s efforts to create a more tolerant and open form of Islam that is not disloyal or critical of the UK’s foreign or domestic policy.

This fatwa is effective immediately. We are aware of its gravity, but we can no longer tolerate the rejection of the Quisling Foundation and the values of pluralism, openness and respect that it represents. We will be contacting former Muslim organisations shortly with instructions on how to re-apply for membership of the Ummah.

ENDS