THE attitude of the Left towards the problem of Islamist terrorism is always exposed after an attack. The Left-liberal media, which covers a huge amount of newspaper and commentary and virtually all television journalism, tends rapidly to get past the atrocity and its victims the better to apply dogma to the wider problem. This usually means calling for more of the policies that created the conditions for the outrage to occur in the first place. Last Friday’s London Bridge terror attack was a textbook example.
It was not long after Usman Khan, 28, murdered Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, during a prisoner rehabilitation event in Fishmongers’ Hall, that a theme emerged: Boris Johnson’s entirely sensible assertion that convicted terrorists should not be able to leave prison after serving just half their sentence was quite wrong, draconian and mere electioneering; ‘Tory cuts’ in probation services were somehow at fault and were ‘failing’ convicts; and that the approach that gave Khan the opportunity to commit his monstrous crimes should basically be left as it is.
I do not doubt that Mr Johnson was addressing his remarks to voters, but given the situation the only matter worth talking about was whether he was right.
The two main parties duly began a dreary squabble about which of them was to blame for Khan getting out of jail early. I can’t think anyone can be much interested in that, given that the current situation regarding Islamist terror – anything up to 25,000 extremists at large in the country – is the result of the incompetence, cowardice and stupidity of successive Labour and Conservative governments. I suspect the general public is well aware of that.
By Tuesday a letter signed by dozens of academics appeared in the Times. It would be ‘heartbreaking’ if the London Bridge incident led to promises of cutting early release or extending sentences, they said. Things must go on as before. Evidently the abstract possibility of reforming Islamist terrorists trumps public safety, and that’s that. The plain fact that had Khan not been released both Mr Merritt and Ms Jones would still be alive was not mentioned, even as a rhetorical counterargument for the sake of balance. The equally plain fact that Islamic fundamentalist terrorists are unlike most other prisoners also went unmentioned. This omission is no doubt due to the Left-liberal shibboleth of equality in all things. Look at what one prison inmate told the Sun about HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire, where, while incarcerated there, Khan bragged about unleashing a terror attack when released. The source said: ‘HMP Whitemoor is like a training camp for extremists in the UK. Radical Muslims get excited to be sent there so they can talk and plot with like-minded people. It’s like a holiday camp for jihadis. It’s ridiculous.’
Ridiculous indeed, and not quoted nor reflected in any other news items and editorials that I have seen.
The only ex-convict I saw interviewed on television in regard to the fallout of last Friday’s atrocity was one Carl Cattermole, who was given free rein on Sky News’s The Sarah-Jane Mee Show to put over the standard Labour Party view of the issue: ‘cuts’ cause all problems and an expansion of public spending on prisons and rehabilitation is the only way to solve them. Ms Mee, a former sports reporter turned news anchor, seemed not to understand that her role as a journalist was to test and interrogate the views of Mr Cattermole. This she did not do. It was therefore never put to Mr Cattermole that if Usman Khan had been kept in prison Mr Merritt and Ms Jones would still be alive. The only possible answer to that could be yes. Incidentally, according to the Guardian Mr Cattermole served one year of a two-and-a-half year sentence for criminal damage and has written a book about prisons which has been put out by the once-eminent publisher Penguin and which was described by Home Secretary Priti Patel as ‘a mockery of our criminal justice system’.
Of course, underneath the issue lies the great unmentioned fact: Left-wing dogma, political correctness or cultural Marxism if you prefer, has become the ruling orthodoxy from the Home Office down through courts and prisons to the police constable. Few dare gainsay the creed by deploying empiricism over abstract theory for fear of being labelled a racist or extremist. Careers would go awry, the Twitter lynch-mobs would be on the march; one might even be cautioned for straying close to some sort of public order offence. No, the only response allowed is to carry on as before, plus a bit of hopey-changey rhetoric larded with calls for tolerance and compassion. Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, the crime-fighting force in charge of the capital with the worst cocaine problem in Europe – Londoners are snorting their way through 500,000 lines of the Bolivian marching powder per day on Dame Cressida’s watch – delivered one such homily in the London Evening Standard. Dame Cressida says we ‘all have a role to play in fighting terrorism’. Yes, that’s right, this war that our elites have got us into through open borders and hard multiculturalism now requires us all to become civil defence volunteers, perpetually vigilant for angry men with special beards and cannabis problems. There are an awful lot of them about, ma’am, and there will be even more if the liberal elite decriminalise the drug. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan needs to be watched closely on this issue. Last month he changed his stance on cannabis – he was against decriminalising it – ominously to advocating a ‘rethink’.
I think elite Lefties know perfectly well that decades of their sedulous politicking and bullying naivety have landed Britain with intractable cultural and social problems, and they also know that their dogma leaves few options to deal effectively with those problems. It explains the curiously colourless response to events such as Friday’s and how quickly such events are allowed to slip off the commentariat’s agenda. Soon journalists will be back in their comfort zone of climate change, racism and gender politics. Until, of course, the next attack.