Colin Cramphorn, the chief constable of West Yorkshire, occupies one of the two hottest seats in British policing today. Since it emerged that all four British suicide bombers of 7 July came from his patch, he has scarcely drawn breath. Cramphorn’s only relaxation in that fevered week came after his surgeon — who has been treating him for prostate cancer — called on the day of the police raids in Leeds and Dewsbury with the bad news that the tumour had spread to his spine.
On the morning of 13 August 1985 I was at my desk at the London Evening Standard when Mary Kenny rang; she had left a message the previous evening on my answering machine at home which I had failed to pick up. Shiva Naipaul had held his 40th birthday party in the spring. Less than a week earlier, he had rung and suggested lunch, which I couldn’t make. Now Mary told me that he had died the day before.
It would appear to be another August crisis. From Washington to Tel Aviv there are expressions of alarm and despondency, especially in Brussels. It looks as if European diplomacy has failed. The Iranians seem determined to press ahead with their nuclear weapons programme. To judge by the newspapers, one would assume that this has come as a shock. But anyone involved with Iran policy who claims to be shocked is only pretending.
In these frightening days, we must seek our consolations where we can; and one of mine, over the last month, has been running a private contest to log the most idiotic remark made by one of the battalions of ‘security experts’ on standby at times like this to provide vitally needed, life-sustaining, 24-hour fatuous commentary on all major broadcast news outlets.
There was the lady from the prestigious think-tank on Sky News who said, quite late on 7 July, that the bombings were ‘clearly a major incident’.
Theo Hobson says that the suicide bombers are not inspired by a belief in an afterlife so much as by political ideology — like the kamikaze pilots of the second world warHeaven is the problem. That is what the atheists are saying. Religion is dangerous because it hooks us on heaven; it encourages us to prefer another world to this one. Once people are gulled into believing in eternal bliss, they are likely to be impatient for it.