Jihad thrives where the nation-state is weak

At the Spectator today on the subject of Jonathan Sack’s book on why people kill for religion, and how Islamism thrives when traditional nation-states break down. (In fact one of the things protecting Turkey from this problem is Atatürk’s nationalism). I especially liked this comment below, which could have been from Viz’s Charlie Pontoon.

Give the 2022 World Cup to Turkey

At the Spectator, a suggestion for a way around the current crisis. Qatar is clearly unsuitable for the 2022 tournament, but it would be politically insensitive to take it away from the Middle East. Turkey is a great place to visit, with warm, friendly, civilised people, who also love football. It’s hot in summer, but nothing like as hot as the Gulf (its July average is about 10 degrees less than Qatar). Whether they’d even want to host it… Read on

‘I had never been in prison in Iraq’: Iraqi Christian refugees in Britain

This is a longer version of an article that appeared in The Spectator in February 2013 It was after his second death threat that Wissam Shamouy decided to leave home. An Assyrian Orthodox Christian from Bakhdida in Iraq’s highly volatile Nineveh province, the 25-year-old was working part-time in a church-run internet café, while studying at engineering college, when he was told of what awaited him. “I got some messages, they told me I was going to be killed because of… Read on

Game of Thrones tells the story of Britain better than most histories

From the Spectator, March 29 A young pretender raises an army to take the throne. Having recently learnt of his father’s beheading, the adolescent — dashing and charismatic and descended from the old kings of the north — vows to avenge him. Despite his youth, he has already won in the field and commands the loyalty of many of the leading families of the realm; he is supported in this war by his mother, who has spirited away… Read on

The state should avoid liberal intervention in people’s relationships

I basically missed the Lib Dem conference, but I’m sure I’ll get the boxset, but I was interested in something my internet friend Michael Story wrote about their cohabitation motion, and the wrote about it on the Spectator website. One of the reasons I’m in favour of politicians favouring marriage is that once you blur the line between what are legal, official relationships and what are private matters, the state is likely to start taking more of an interest… Read on

The start of ‘the historic American retreat’? I hope not

When I was my kid my parents took my brother and me to East Berlin (they were a bit odd that way). I recall, amid what was at the age of eight a frightening place (what struck me was of course the Wall, and the crosses there where young people had been shot trying to escape), the American soldiers there, who we took pictures of alongside their Soviet opposite numbers. I remember, perhaps later, having the feeling that this superpower… Read on

The strange death of the British middle class, in this week’s Spectator

In this week’s Spectator magazine an article I co-wrote – along with fellow bourgeois Fraser Nelson – on the decline of the British middle class. Read the full thing there.