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Peter Rhodes on insurance puzzles, the perils of Twitter and the case for treating terrorists as PoWs.

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Terror in London

UK car production has fallen by 14 per cent. Remind me, is that bad news or good news?

Margaret Thatcher fought tooth-and-handbag for IRA terrorists to be treated as common criminals in prison, not as prisoners-of-war, as they and their supporters demanded. Forty years on, isn’t there a case for treating Islamist and other terrorists as PoWs?

The bloody images from London’s knife attack are a reminder that no so-called “deradicalisation” programme comes with a guarantee, and no police surveillance can stop anybody snatching a knife in a shop and sticking it in a passer-by. If terrorists were treated as PoWs they would be imprisoned until the war was over. Considering this war has been going on since as long as any of us can remember, that might be quite some time.

On to that never-ending mystery of our time, car insurance. Time to renew mine. So how can it be that Saga who this time last year wanted £450 to reinsure my aged banger (I declined) now want only £315 and will hold that price for the next three years? Why does Hastings Direct now want £250 when their online renewal quote was £205 just two weeks ago? How can Direct Line undercut everyone else at £195? (Simples. That quote was the only one that doesn’t protect my no-claims bonus). And why is Sheila’s Wheels so keen to sign me up?

It’s a morass. There are dozens of motor-insurance companies spending millions of pounds advertising similar products from the same small pool of underwriters whose prices change every 24 hours. Does the system serve the public? Or is it long overdue for that thing that Britain does so well, a full public inquiry?

And then we can have a full public inquiry into why full public inquiries take so long.

Eventually I opted to stay with my current insurer on the grounds that while their eight per cent hike is scandalous, it’s not quite as scandalous as I expected, having heard tales of woe from many readers.

As ITN’s sacking of Alastair Stewart proves, Twitter is the crossbow of our age. Just as real crossbows enabled dirt-poor mediaeval peasants to kill haughty mounted knights, so Twitter enables the rude citizenry to bring mighty celebrities crashing down. Engage anybody in Tweeting for long enough, especially late at night, and he or she, like Stewart, will eventually say something at which somebody, somewhere, at some time now or in the future will be able to take offence.

This is why some wise celebrities would not touch Twitter with a bargepole. It also explains why if you email me and ask for my opinion on anything other than the weather, you won’t get it. And you won’t find me on Twitter either.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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