David amess

Our prisons are woefully unprepared for Ali Harbi Ali

The Islamist terrorist Ali Harbi Ali will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the murder of Sir David Amess MP. But as he fades from public view, will his risk also disappear? That’s a headache our beleaguered prison service will now have for decades to come. The signs are not promising. Harbi Ali, who reportedly smirked after stabbing Amess more than 20 times, showed no sign of remorse or contrition throughout his trial. Unlike many of the terrorists he will be joining in one of our high security prisons, he managed to convert his distorted thoughts into lethal action. He’s a blooded jihadist and he will be

The shameful silence surrounding David Amess’s murder

Ali Harbi Ali has been given a whole life sentence. But perhaps this is too steep an introduction. Perhaps, like me, you’re beginning to lose track of the various perpetrators of Islamist terror in Britain as the news blurs into a constant revolving track of incidents, arriving to a sense of outrage deadened by repeated horror. Ali Harbi Ali murdered the MP Sir David Amess in a constituency surgery, in a direct assault on British democracy. He told the horrified crowd that he wanted ‘every parliament minister who signed up for the bombing of Syria, who agreed to the Iraqi war, to die.’ He said he did it ‘because of

The real harm in the Online Harms Bill

Following the killing of Sir David Amess, MPs were quick to point to the ‘corrosive space’ provided by social media, the ‘toxic’ conduct of politics, and the general phenomenon of people being cruel to them online. Of course our parliamentary representatives don’t deserve to face waves of abuse for doing their jobs. They shouldn’t receive racial abuse, or threats of violence, or even simple insults for doing their jobs. This goes without saying for any worker, whether serving customers in a supermarket, helping commuters with their tickets, or indeed governing the country. It is difficult to see why else the Conservative party would accept a proposal so tailor-made for its political

Rethinking MPs’ safety is not a victory for terrorism

Whenever a killing is investigated as an act of terror, there is always a tendency to think that any changes made are a victory for terrorism. While a few MPs have called for changes to how constituency surgeries are held, many more want them to carry on as they were.  But as I say in the magazine this week, given the circumstances, the rethink of MPs’ safety should be a practical exercise, not a philosophical one. In response to IRA bombing campaigns, Margaret Thatcher put a gate across Downing Street. Without it, an IRA mortar would have killed the war cabinet in 1991. That was not a ‘victory’ for the terrorists but a wise

Charles Moore

Why the baby doomers are wrong

Rarely does a piece of journalism bring a tear to my normally cynical eye, but I did find this happening when I read Tom Woodman’s piece (‘You must be kidding’) in last week’s edition. He and his wife would not have children, he wrote, because climate collapse means that ‘I can’t give them a future’. What made me weepy was his combination of obvious decency and utter mistakenness. How tragic that what he called ‘the facts and figures’ — in reality, contentious projections — have persuaded this couple that no little Woodman must come into the world. ‘Tree,’ I felt like shouting, in reversal of the Green order of priorities,

Portrait of the week: David Amess’s death, net-zero plans and contraceptives for hippos

Home Sir David Amess, aged 69, the Conservative MP for Southend West, was stabbed to death while taking a constituency surgery at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Police stopped a priest reaching him to administer the last rites. They arrested Ali Harbi Ali, 25, a British man of Somali heritage, who was detained under the Terrorism Act. The Queen agreed that Southend should be granted the status of a city, which Sir David had long campaigned for. Dennis Hutchings, 80, a former soldier on trial in Belfast for the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham, 27, in 1974, died after catching Covid. In the seven days up to the beginning of this week,

Rod Liddle

The ideology of madness

On the wooden jetty from which the ferry used to depart for the little island of Utoya, there stood for a while a small obelisk around which people deposited flowers. ‘If one man can show this much hate, imagine how much love we can show together’ was the marvellously trite inscription on the obelisk: vapid and close to meaningless, in either Norwegian or English. Utoya lies in the Tyrifjorden Lake about 45 minutes north of Oslo and it is where the Labour party’s ‘Workers’ Youth League’ once held its summer camps — until one afternoon in July 2011 when a man called Anders Breivik turned up, heavily armed. Breivik murdered

Douglas Murray

Britain’s fatal unwillingness to confront Islamic extremism

More than any other country in the West, Britain has become practised in the arts of self-deception and subject avoidance. If a politician in France had been butchered by a Muslim of Somali descent, the French media and political class would have gone through a cycle of debate about the ideology that propelled the killer. Government and security sources would have talked about the networks surrounding the suspect. And the whole society would have learned a little more about what might have led to such an outrage. In Britain the situation is otherwise. David Amess was stabbed to death in a church while holding a surgery for his constituents. The

The death of David Amess has no easy answers

Why has the political debate following Sir David Amess’s killing moved so swiftly to focus on civility in politics? It’s a reasonable question that a lot of people – including my colleague Sam Leith – have been asking. The police are treating Amess’s death as a terrorist attack, and yet other MPs have been talking about the need to stop online abuse and to encourage a more open political culture. The link between people shouting at their MPs about how they voted and the motives of Islamist terrorists is, to put it politely, somewhat unproven. Politicians are always high-value targets for terrorists in any country, regardless of how mean or

MPs gather to pay tribute to Sir David Amess

Boris Johnson announced this afternoon that Southend will receive city status as a tribute to the campaigning work of Sir David Amess, who was killed. Sir David’s best known Commons contributing was Inserting Southend’s bid to become a city into any question, no matter how tenuous, and it seemed an inevitable way of the government marking his death. MPs paying their respects to the Southend West MP have all focused on his dedication to his constituency, but also on his kindness. Johnson told the chamber that ‘he was… one of the nicest, kindest, and most gentle individuals ever to grace these benches’. Everyone mentioned his smile and his sense of humour. The way

Gavin Mortimer

The idiotic myth of the ‘lone wolf’ attack

In the summer of 2020 the French Senate published a report on the ‘Development of Islamist Radicalisation and the means of combatting it.’ It was a wide-ranging review which included contributions from academics, writers, Muslim associations and politicians. Among those interviewed by the commission were the ex-security advisor Alexandre del Valle, Zineb El Rhazoui, a former columnist for Charlie Hebdo and Hugo Micheron, a doctor in political science, and the author of a 2020 book entitled The French Jihadism. The French Jihadism should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the nature of the threat posed by Islamic extremism – not just in France but across the West.

James Kirkup

In praise of MPs

My first full-time job, at the age of 18, was working for an MP. In the following 27 years, almost my entire career has been spent in or near Westminster. I know and have known lots of MPs. To coin a phrase, some of my best friends are members of parliament. This, of course, means I’m biased on the topic of MPs, inclined by reason or familiarity to think well of them as a group. But it also means, I hope, that I have a bit of knowledge — knowledge that might be worth sharing as the Commons remembers Sir David Amess and James Brokenshire. It’s hard to generalise about

Brendan O’Neill

Free speech didn’t kill David Amess

Every decent person was horrified by the senseless slaying of David Amess. And everyone will want to know what can be done to prevent similar atrocities from occurring in the future. But I fear that in the haze of anger and concern that has descended on the country following Amess’s death, we are coming to some questionable conclusions about the causes of such violence, and coming up with some iffy ideas for how to ensure that such a horrific attack on a public servant never happens again. Right now, the finger of blame is primarily pointed at the shouty, divisive nature of political discourse in the 21st century. The horror

David Amess showed why people should go into politics

I often joke that when I became an MP in 2019, after being a charity chief executive, I went from saint to sinner in the mind of the public. When you work for a charity, people assume you’re one of the good guys: honest, principled, in it for the right reasons. Too often politicians are seen as the opposite: dishonest, unprincipled, in it for themselves – and probably fiddling their expenses. Both stereotypes are wrong, yet they persist. I am regularly asked why I made the switch – not least by friends and family members, who know politics matters but wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. It is a

We must do more to protect our MPs

Sir David Amess’s backstory tells you much about his commitment to constituency politics that led to his cruel murder yesterday. He was born and grew up in a terraced house in London’s East End. There was little money. His dad was an electrician, his mother a tea lady and seamstress. In short they were not born into privilege and were exactly the kind of people who might visit an MP’s constituency surgery on a Friday in the hope of having their small catastrophes fixed. Democracy might be crowned with abstractions but it is built on the weekly efforts of our 650 MPs – who hear these struggles face to face

David Amess was killed doing one of the most crucial parts of an MP’s job

Sir David Amess was killed in the line of duty. He was doing one of the most important – and vulnerable – parts of an MP’s job, and he was killed while doing it. Most of the week, MPs go to work in a palace under armed guard. They live in houses with CCTV, panic alarms and rapid police response mechanisms in case of trouble. These measures have gradually been added to their lives as the perceived threat has increased. But in just over a decade, three serious attacks against MPs have taken place in the one place where they lack such security: their constituency surgeries. Stephen Timms was stabbed