Sunday 22 August 2021
This week, Peter Hitchens's column ought to have been one for the ages. But instead, he seems to have phoned it in, with much of it reading like a pastiche, and with at least one line to suggest that, as he prepared to enter his eighth decade, he feared for his column. Even so, though, he has managed to include this:
Let us turn to the mysterious, fascinating ex-soldier Tom Tugendhat, who was garlanded with praise for his odd, rambling speech in Parliament on Wednesday. I may be mistaken but he seemed to be arguing that Britain should have stayed in Afghanistan to save it from the medieval repression of the Taliban.
Yet back in February 2018, the same Tom Tugendhat told the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National that he thought very highly of the Saudi regime, perhaps the closest rival to the Taliban on Earth for repression of women, lack of freedom in general, religious intolerance and savage, steel-bladed criminal justice:
‘I welcome enormously the reforms that Mohammed bin Salman has conducted recently. ‘He is rightly showing a vision for Saudi Arabia that sees her taking a place as a player in the global economy and I think that is incredibly positive, not just for Saudi Arabia, but for the world.’ Eight months later the Saudis murdered the dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
This incessant making of allowances for the Saudis, a central part of our foreign policy implicating every Cabinet and the Royal Family itself, makes a perpetual nonsense of our pose as the enemies of repression in the Islamic world. So I personally could do with a great deal less of this noisy piety.
Once again, a clearly unhinged crime is being treated as if it is a political action. Plymouth mass-killer Jake Davison could not have expected to achieve anything for any cause by these ghastly crimes.
I agree his record makes it absurd that he should have been allowed to own a gun of any kind. But why was he so crazy? It seems very possible that, as a bodybuilder, he used steroids, whose use is associated with several rampage killings.
He may also have been prescribed SSRI antidepressants, likewise associated with such acts, and I would be amazed if he was not a user of marijuana, again associated with many violent crimes.
If there is a causal connection between such drugs and violence, we need to know, and to act on it. Yet nobody is interested.
When I asked Devon and Cornwall Police if they had any information on his drug use, they refused to discuss the matter. This is the invariable response of police forces in such cases. It shouldn’t be.
I have tried and failed to get an official explanation of why Julian Assange is being held in miserable conditions in Belmarsh, a maximum-security jail built for the most dangerous prisoners in the country.
Mr Assange is not a convicted prisoner and he is not in any way violent. He is on remand waiting for our tortoise-like court system to rule on his extradition, an unjustified and vindictive attempted state kidnapping by Washington.
If we still had a civil society, there would be a well-supported campaign to improve his conditions.