Peter Rhodes on a Churchillian quote, madness in the legal system and saving a species for £15

The latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Piers Morgan – triumphant
Piers Morgan – triumphant

What does Piers Morgan, crowing over his Ofcom triumph, have in common with a great military hero? Absolutely nothing, apart from one quote by Winston Churchill. Describing Field Marshal Montgomery of Alamein, Churchill allegedly said Monty was: “In defeat indomitable - in victory unbearable.”

The New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern described the supermarket stabbing atrocity as “senseless.” On the contrary, it made perfect sense. A violent extremist went on a sudden rampage. At zero expense he spread terror. When the police shot him, he became a martyr. In the mind-set of religious terrorism, this was an eminently sensible operation. The lack of brains was entirely on the NZ authorities' side.

They had known about this person for ages. They knew his death-cult ideology. They knew he might strike at any moment. But rather than infringe his precious human rights, they took a chance with the right to life of innocent people. Their system leaned so far to be fair to terrorists that, even after the knifeman was dead, the authorities would not release his name “due to court suppression orders.”

The most worrying part of this Kiwi pantomime is that we have much the same processes here in the UK. When every ounce of common sense says crazed time-bombs like these should be arrested, locked up and deported as quickly as possible, our obsession with being kind to potential killers makes us let them walk the streets under “surveillance” which, time after time, becomes a byword for “letting them kill people.” Senseless, indeed.

Meanwhile, a woman who touched a man's bottom in a Portsmouth nightclub has been given a caution. But two other women charged in connection with the incident are to be dealt with at the Crown Court. The Crown Court, for God's sake? This is a court that deals with murders, rapes, arson and manslaughter. It surely has more urgent business than a patted posterior in Portsmouth.

Having been thoroughly alarmed at last week's report on the impending extinction of the Menai whitebeam (only 30 examples of the tree are left in the wild), I discovered you can buy a packet of 10 Menai whitebeam seeds online for a fiver. In other words, a single green-fingered gardener could double the world's population of these trees for £15. As Mark Twain almost put it, reports of the demise of Menai whitebeams may have been greatly exaggerated.

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