Sunday, 28 May 2017

Even Peter Hitchens can be right sometimes.

The events in Manchester tragic though they are her produced a welter of handwringing and piety, everyone in the dog has had to get into the act and of course in the middle of an election campaign it has seemed as manna for the political opportunists that inhabit just about everywhere.

Reading the Mail on Sunday I got much of what I expected, the prattling of Amber Rudd and the usual bellicose pronouncements of those who believe you can somehow have a war on terror, which in reality means war against small groups often one or two men, not an army, not an identified force simply mavericks who have a distorted and perverted view of the world. You cannot legislate against such insanity, the best preparation can only be within the community.

Oddly enough the person in the Mail who seemed to understand the nature of what is happening appears to be Peter Hitchens, the right-wing libertarian irritant but on this occasion he appears to have it absolutely right. He argued in his column but the presence on the streets of Britain by armed squaddies carrying an array of weapons and dressed in jungle fatigues would somehow make things better, a show of military force would somehow subdue the individuals who threaten such atrocities and their presence in uniform would somehow replicate a war zone.

Of course that is a nonsensical idea and is Hitchens quite correctly pointed out it is but the first step towards a state that accepts willingly the sight of armed troops on the streets, in the stations, in the shopping malls, and even on the beaches. What the young soldiers are going to be able to do in a crowded town centre is anybody's guess, it might frighten the jihadists but it terrifies me.

Hitchens argues quite correctly that the best thing we can do is to ensure there are many more community policeman in our neighbourhoods who know what to look out for and who to look out for, for instance a local lad with a beard and a wild eyed look with siting verses from some religious tract loudly might well draw attention and a community beat officer would be aware that it was something unusual.

We can never eradicate the problem of the young man who for a variety of reasons be it a mental condition or a problem connected with for instance drugs or alcohol or even simply completely alienated from the community around them.

For years we had what used to be called community policing and it worked, local beat officers stayed in the areas they policed four years and got to know and were trusted by the people they were charged with policing. Knowing your local community is the only real and genuine prevent strategy, not people swaggering around with machine guns or driving fast cars with sirens blazing.

That is why Jeremy Corbyn is actually giving a strategy that can assist and prevent the problem that we see today. Let me make it clear that the notion of a war against terrorism is absolutely barmy and an unsustainable strategy for a government to pursue.

Which brings me on to the other sensible piece of writing I have read this weekend in the Observer Kenan Malik asked the question of why so many young people see radical Islam as being the root for changing society


"The institutions that shaped what are now called  'Muslim Communities' were not mosques,but secular and political organisations such as the Indian Workers Association and the Asian Youth Movements.The struggles of Asian communities were intimately bound up with wider working class struggles."
Malik makes the point very clearly that often in spite of reactionary right wing forces in many trade unions it was the unity of working people that brought together al workers in a common struggle.He cites  the Grunwick strike of 1976 when Asian working women took a year long action against a rapacious boss which then alerted the broader movement to the injustices those workers were faced with,and a solidarity movement grew from there.
It wasn't Imams or clerics or any religious impulse that created that solidarity, it was old fashioned working class unity in action.
it seems to me that despite what the yellow dog press bark about,and the dog whistle politics of the nasty party, the last few days have revealed more that just the resilience of the people of manchester but the dawning recognition that more and bigger guns on the street is not the solution, or indeed the fatuous suggestion from a UKIP member that we should re-introduce capital punishment for suicide bombers (!)
It is possible that come June 8th many more people will have seen through the no-solution solution of May and we will be once again a country of the Enlightenment-for all!


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