In the wake of the atrocity in Paris David Cameron has accelerated the push to extend British airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) beyond Iraq into Syria. As Cameron put it:
It is in Syria, in Raqqa, that [ISIS] has its headquarters and it is from Raqqa that some of the main threats against this country are planned and orchestrated. Raqqa, if you like, is the head of the snake.
There is no doubt that this is so. The British government’s decision to war against ISIS—but only on the Iraqi side of an Iraq-Syria border that ISIS has abolished—makes no sense. This one-handed clapping is especially puzzling because ISIS’s most valued holdings are in Syria. From revenue streams—namely oil fields and populations that can be taxed/extorted—to ideological legitimacy and recruitment tools, such as holding the town of Dabiq where ISIS prophesises End Times will take place, drawing in a large stream of foreign fighters, ISIS’s centre of gravity is in Syria. Continue reading →
There are few people in British public life more destructive, especially among the young, than Russell Brand, not least because of his poisonous advice that people should not vote. When I first saw him proffer this advice on Newsnight—where I could not believe he had been invited and then taken seriously—it seemed to me a form of vandalism, using his prominent and comfortable position to urge those less comfortable to throw away one of the few levers they had to make their lot better.
But now I find the only way I could cast a ballot in the upcoming Election is if there was an option for “None of the Above”. I can only differentiate myself by noting both the very considerable gulf in our audiences, and thus responsibilities, and that I do not seek to advise anybody, only explain my own personal decision. Continue reading →