TERRORISTS are despicable cowards of the worst variety, as the horrendous scenes in Boston reminded us in the most shocking possible way last night. Once again, innocent people have been hideously murdered and dozens injured, in many cases very seriously. The gruesome pictures are all too familiar to those who remember 9/11, the London attacks of 2005 and before that the vicious IRA attacks, including the bombings in the City and Canary Wharf in the 1990s.
What is especially sickening is that marathons have emerged as major unifying and philanthropic events in modern cities in recent years, including in London, becoming an increasingly important part of the culture. It is a time when many people raise funds for good causes, while pushing themselves to the limit; it is also a time when companies and organisations come together to support employees who take part in races. Targeting one of the world’s most famous marathons in this way merely underlies the complete inhumanity of the perpetrators.
The police are rightly reviewing security for the London marathon this weekend, an event in which many readers of this paper always take part. Security will also need to be tight at tomorrow’s funeral.
The evil people who committed such a vile act in Boston must be hunted down and punished in the most severe manner possible.
THATCHER STILL MOST POPULAR
We keep being told that Lady Thatcher was a divisive, hated character, and of course many did loathe her. Yet she remains remarkably popular: ICM, the pollsters, asked people on behalf of The Guardian how they would vote today if Thatcher were still Tory leader. Strikingly, the Tories would surge to 40 per cent, just 2.2 per cent less than the share she grabbed at her last election, while Labour would poll 37 per cent, the Lib Dems 11 per cent and Ukip (which didn’t exist at the time) five per cent.
Compare that to current voting intentions, with David Cameron as leader: the Tories are at 32 per cent, behind Labour’s 38, the Lib Dems on 15 and Ukip on nine (the latter being ICM’s best result for the emerging party). The bulk of the Thatcher switchers would be Lib Dems and Ukip voters. The latter isn’t surprising – Nigel Farage wrote yesterday that his party wouldn’t even exist had she survived the 1990 Tory leadership contest – but the former would be to most Westminster analysts, who tend to think of Lib Dem voters as either centrist or leftist.
In an interview for Martin Durkin’s brilliant Margaret – Death of a Revolutionary, produced by Wag TV and broadcast on Channel 4 on Saturday, Cameron refused to describe himself as a Thatcherite, presumably because he thought that to associate himself that closely with his predecessor would make him less popular. That was yet another misjudgement from the Prime Minister (though, of course, he was merely being honest). No clear candidate emerges as Thatcher’s heir, according to ICM’s poll: Cameron rates 16 per cent (not surprisingly, given that he is technically her heir as leader of the Tory party, even if not in terms of substance), Tony Blair 15 per cent, Boris 12, Theresa May five and Farage three.
A contemporary Thatcherite leader would not be a carbon copy of the lady herself, but a modern, authentic figure to whom the public can relate and who understands the concerns, attitudes and problems of the age. As Thatcher’s astonishing poll ratings suggest, such a figure – could it still be Boris? – would have huge electoral appeal.
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