“In Bed with the Tories!”

Alex Salmond would make me laugh – if he wasn’t such a danger to Scotland. Last night, he repeatedly ripped into Alistair Darling – a Labour politicians and chief spokesperson for “Better Together”, which is a coalition that, of course, includes the staunchly pro-Union Conservative party. Salmond claimed that Darling was somehow responsible, or at least acquiescent in what critics lambast as the “bedroom tax” (or supporters call the “spare room subsidy”!).
Why can’t the 71% of people polled by ICM after the BBC debate see that the First Minister is clutching at straws? Maintaining a successful, prosperous and mutually-beneficial Union between Scotland and rest of our United Kingdom is a specific issue that unites almost all the main political parties and even more who resist all such labels. Moreover, Darling could easily have accused the SNP of being “in bed” with the Scottish Socialist Party, who are fellow-members of “Yes Scotland” and advocate the legalisation of cannabis. This drug deposits on the lung more than four times the amount of tar associated with cigarettes, impairs cognitive abilities, reduces concentration levels and triggers paranoia or anxiety attacks. One might wonder if that’s what the blindly optimistic, hopelessly deluded and irredeemably vague “Yes” camp have been smoking!
Whether arguing that Great Britain means we don’t get the government we vote for or scaremongering over the NHS’s future, they need to wake-up and smell the coffee. Only 902,915 individuals voted for the SNP in 2011 – 45.39% of those who bothered casting a ballot – and yet they ended-up with a whopping majority of seats in Parliament and were able to legislate for the 18th September 2014 Referendum. Meanwhile, control of the NHS is devolved to Scotland – whatever happens south of the border does not dictate policy in Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Millions of pounds have already been wasted on a campaign most people in this magnificent nation did not want. It’s time to send Salmond a clear message: “we are not amused”!

Islamic State?

Yet again on Saturday I heard on the radio the short-sighted analysis declaring the Middle East’s current woes to stem from the Iraq invasion of 2004. Bush, Blair et al in toppling Saddam Hussain created a ferment of instability in the region and hatred for the “occupying powers”, which has directly led to Islamic State’s current butchery. What utter nonsense!
The truth is that this ideology of Sharia-enforcing, everyone else-conforming, ultimately global caliphate has much deeper roots than the last decade. Over 40 years ago, Abdullah Azzam, a former Muslim Brotherhood member, introduced into his writings the idea that jihad in Islam was an individual obligation to recover erstwhile Muslim territories, which is the primary concept used by ideologues to radicalise recruits to fight for an Islamic state. Further back still, according to Sunni Muslims, the prophet of Islam had four “Rightly Guided” caliphs and the Ottoman Empire – last bearer of this tilte – was broken-up in 1924.
Today, there are calls from Muslim imams that news broadcasters should stop referring to “Islamic State” in their coverage because this damages the image of their faith and lures the disillusioned. Instead, reference should be made to how this organisation was originally a splinter from Al’Qaeda. Maybe, but discussion about semantics misses the point.
How has Islam reached the point where tens and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, believe violence can solve their problems and usher in a better society? Surely, Muslims must all look to the Prince of Peace – Jesus Christ – who rode into Jerusalem not on a war horse, but a donkey; who triumped over His enemies not by beheading, but willingly enduring the cruel cross and displaying the extraordinary love of God for wrong-doers. This is the radical ideology that Muslims – and all people – need to recover. Jesus is the only one who can reconcile enemies, break down dividing wall and lead the global kingdom of grace, righteousness and truth.