Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Article excerpt

Itis not possible to speak of a terrorist incident as being a good thing, but if it were, these latest would qualify. First, no innocent person was killed in London or Glasgow. Second, information was immediately collected by the authorities, thanks to the would-be killers' bungling, and more will follow. Often when terrorists are captured they do not break under interrogation because they have been trained as 'soldiers'. But I gather from experts that failed suicide bombers are in a different category. They were trained only to die, and so they have not been trained to live. Having survived, they start blabbing. There is good reason to hope that this will happen in the case of the singed fanatics in Glasgow (at least the one who is not badly injured). Third, it is helpful that more people are now aware that terrorism is not necessarily linked to 'deprivation', and is also a middle-class problem. This has always been the case, and it is nothing new that doctors are involved.

Osama bin Laden's number two, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, has a degree in surgery (does it make him extra good at cutting off hands? ), and the now dead leader of Hamas, Dr Abdel al-Rantissi, was a qualified physician.

But the latest harvest of medicos, if it results in convictions, will rebuke the NHS, which tends smugly to assume that anyone working for it is automatically a decent person.

Educated professionals make the most dangerous terrorists -- the least corruptible, the most self-righteous, the most resourceful, the most twisted. It is good to know our enemy. Finally, the Glasgow incident may help to shake Scottish complacency. Despite the fact that there are racial tensions in Scotland (there have sometimes been revolting attacks on asylum-seekers), the lack of a major terrorist incident allowed Scottish politicians to imply that it was only horrible England which brought such disasters upon itself. Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, went on air after the Glasgow incident, praising Muslims for 'the integral part they play' in Scottish life. If it had been Englishmen who had driven bombs into the airport, would he have had similar praise for the English part in his nation's culture?

The release of Alan Johnston is a perfect propaganda achievement by Hamas.

Simultaneously looking merciful and strong, the terrorist group now has an armlock on the BBC. It decides which correspondent lives and which dies. It will make that decision on the basis of how its work is reported. Look out for BBC stuff on Hamas as the new moderates of the Middle East.

OnSunday I went to my first real pop concert. I had been asked to write the introduction to the programme for the Concert for Diana, which was held on what would have been the Princess's 46th birthday.

As a result, Princes William and Harry kindly invited the Moore family, among many others, to come to the concert and join their lunch at Wembley beforehand. It was all very jolly, and it struck me that the young princes have been much more successfully brought up in the spirit of their own generation than was their father. They moved among us all with relaxed good manners and gave every impression of enjoying themselves. They seemed to have lots of real friends, all equally relaxed without being tiresome. A comparable occasion for Prince Charles at the same age would have unimaginable: the distance royalty then required would have been too great. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.