The politics of grief

David Merritt suffered a terrible loss in the London Bridge attack. But he’s still wrong about sentencing.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill

Topics Politics UK

The Guardian has reached a new low this morning. It hasn’t only weaponised the grief of David Merritt, whose son Jack was murdered in the Islamist terror attack on London Bridge on Friday – it has sensationalised it.

It has devoted half of its front page to this man’s mourning. ‘Exclusive’, it says, titillating readers with the promise of an emotional hit from a grieving father’s words. ‘Roll up, roll up’, it might as well have said. It feels invasive, cynical, and akin to emotional blackmail – after all, the aim of the Guardian’s sensationalised grief is to make the case for greater leniency for terrorists and to silence anyone who takes the opposing view that we need stiffer sentences and harsher punishments. ‘Are you disagreeing with David Merritt?’, is the undertone of this mawkish, exploitative affair.

Jack Merritt, 25, was one of two people murdered by the radical Islamist Usman Khan on Friday. Jack had been working with the prison-rehabilitation group Learning Together. So had the other fatal victim – 23-year-old Saskia Jones. Jack believed in prison reform, prisoner rehabilitation, and taking a less draconian approach in criminal matters. His father David is keen to continue pushing Jack’s message after his murder. That is an admirable thing to do. None of us can know the pain Mr Merritt is feeling; he understandably wants to keep his son’s memory and achievements alive.

Tragically, however, Mr Merritt’s pain has been politicised and even weaponised by the media elite. It has been used as a battering ram against Boris Johnson, the tabloid newspapers, and anyone who thinks terrorists should be dealt with more harshly. This has propelled a father’s mourning into the ugly realm of political contestation and effectively dared people to question it.

Corbynistas, columnists and others are now using Mr Merritt’s grief as a trump card in debates about how to deal with terrorism. They are marshalling his pain and his opinion to heap shame on Boris Johnson and to continue their ceaseless elitist war against the tabloid newspapers.

Mr Merritt’s tweet condemning the Mail and the Express for promoting ‘hatred, division and ignorance’ after the London Bridge attack has been retweeted tens of thousands of times. Cynics among the middle-class left have openly marshalled Mr Merritt’s grief to the end of censuring public discussion about terrorism. Ash Sarkar says: ‘Jack Merritt’s family and loved ones have specifically asked that right-wing newspapers and political parties not use his murder to advance reactionary demands. If you see it happening, call it out.’ Incapable of winning public support, in particular working-class support, for their agenda of Islamist apologism and moral cowardice, the degraded left instead uses a father’s grief to force their ideas through. ‘Disagree with me and you are insulting a grieving family’, is the disgraceful, censorious message of this morbid politics.

The irony in all of this is that even as the liberal media and the middle-class left exploit grief to condemn the tabloid newspapers, they themselves adopt the tabloid style. In the past, it tended to be the right-leaning tabloid press that weaponised grief, especially parental grief, to push a political agenda. Think of how often Jamie Bulger’s poor, haunted mother was invited to say that child-killers should be dealt with in a more forceful way. Or the way that parents of children who were victims of paedophiles were used to front campaigns calling for life sentences or even the death penalty.

The Guardian’s weaponisation of Mr Merritt’s grief is in keeping with this low form of politics. The only difference is that this newspaper is using personal pain to make the case for lighter sentences. The rest of it – the front-page exclusive, the sorrowful image of the victim, the parent’s pained words, the promotion of a political message – is entirely in keeping with an approach developed by the right over the years which is designed to politicise grief and silence dissent.

But there is much to dissent on here, and ordinary people – who are the true target of the media elite’s silencing tactics – should not feel discouraged from expressing their alternative views on terrorism. There is, sadly, something a little strange about Mr Merritt’s Guardian article. It avoids the words murder and terrorism. It refers only to ‘Jack’s death’ and to ‘the tragic incident of Friday 29 November’ – as if Jack died in an accident. But he didn’t. This fine, principled young man was killed in an Islamist terror attack, just as scores of people, including children, were in 2017, too. And just as hundreds of people have been across Europe over the past five years. We must have the right to talk about this without being shamed and silenced by the Guardian and other grief-exploiters.

Furthermore, it seems odd that Mr Merritt and the leftists marshalling his pain into public life should refer to the London Bridge terrorist attack as a mere incident while referring to tabloid coverage as an ‘agenda of hate’. This is moral inversion. One could be forgiven for thinking that the true hatred from this affair is coming from mere newspapers rather than from an Islamist ideology that openly advocates the slaughter of innocents and the degradation of Western society. Apparently, it is people’s anger over terrorism that is hateful, more so than the terrorism itself. People must have the right to push back against this odd idea without being told that they are disrespecting grieving families.

Islamist terrorism is not a normal crime. It is not like armed robbery, or serious assault, or even murder. Rehabilitation and redemption are fine ideas in relation to those offences. But Islamist terrorism is different. Its aim is to massacre people indiscriminately to the end of instilling terror in society and undermining society’s core civilisational values. These people are not just criminals, they are traitors. They deserve different treatment, harsher treatment. We are all deeply sorry for Mr Merritt’s loss, but that doesn’t mean we have to agree with his views on crime, terrorism and law. Mr Merritt is wrong.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics UK


Kevin Rafferty

9th December 2019 at 5:51 pm

David Merrit’s reaction reflects pathological altruism, a Darwinian cul-de-sac.

N Anon

4th December 2019 at 6:56 pm

He was my friend. I loved him so much. Your article made me sick in my mouth more than the Guardians ever did. His closest friends and family wrote that article. And deserved to have it published. You are the one politicising this. Leave us all alone.

Ven Oods

4th December 2019 at 7:58 pm

You can’t opine in a newspaper then expect to be left alone. Grow up. (But, I’m sad about your loss.)

Michael Kellett

7th December 2019 at 12:22 pm

I entirely agree with you.

Jerry Owen

5th December 2019 at 8:12 am

It’s called freedom of speech. Wouldn’t your best friend support that, or did he just believe in rights for terrorists?
I find it distasteful the way you hide behind a death to silence others.
Grow up.

Jerry Owen

5th December 2019 at 9:13 am

That is if he’s was your friend of course, which is highly unlikely as he was a Cambridge bod and your grammar suggests you are not.Too many full stops and Guardians should have an apostrophe.

Jerry Owen

5th December 2019 at 9:14 am

‘he’ but I don’t claim anything !!

Rufus Armstrong

5th December 2019 at 2:50 pm

You’re doing exactly what you claim others shouldn’t be doing. The Guardian and the self professed communist Ash Sarkar used this tragic event to put out a political message then used the trick of claiming no one else should comment on it for respect of the family to close down any right to reply. People are not stupid and can see right through this nasty manipulation by the left.

Michael Kellett

7th December 2019 at 12:24 pm


Noel Mac

26th December 2019 at 12:20 pm

Your comment is vile. You are probably a liar to boot. How dare you call out those who abhor this maniacs behavior. I’d say shame on you but you have none

H McLean

4th December 2019 at 11:07 am

Surely it’s got to the stage where no-one should give a flying fig what the Guardian thinks. They’re a bad faith publication who have no interest in truth, only power. I used to read the Guardian as my primary news source, years ago, until I began to object to their regressive politics and was eventually banned from their website. I moved on and didn’t look back. They employ Owen Jones, for goodness sake, which tells you everything you need to know about them.

The sad thing is Mr Merritt is so satisfied in his ideological ignorance not even having his son brutally murdered is enough to make him reassess his beliefs. If even that isn’t enough to make you stop and think, nothing will. The Guardian is guilty of what they are accusing others of doing, they are the ones using these deaths as hateful propaganda.

Ven Oods

7th December 2019 at 4:17 pm

“They employ Owen Jones, for goodness sake, which tells you everything you need to know about them.”
Every august establishment needs a mascot. Why not little Owen?

H McLean

4th December 2019 at 11:07 am

Surely it’s got to the stage where no-one should give a flying fuck what the Guardian thinks. They’re a bad faith publication who have no interest in truth, only power. I used to read the Guardian as my primary news source, years ago, until I began to object to their regressive politics and was eventually banned from their website. I moved on and didn’t look back. They employ Owen Jones, for goodness sake, which tells you everything you need to know about them.

The sad thing is Mr Merritt is so satisfied in his ideological ignorance not even having his son brutally murdered is enough to make him reassess his beliefs. If even that isn’t enough to make you stop and think, nothing will. The Guardian is guilty of what they are accusing others of doing, they are the ones using these deaths as hateful propaganda.

Jerry Owen

5th December 2019 at 9:15 am

The Guardian and the BBC deserve one another… oh hang on!

Puddy Cat

4th December 2019 at 9:43 am

I used to be a Guardian reader, its investigative journalism was superb. Unfortunately it has sunk to infantilism and innuendo. It’s stock in trade is to blame as a matter of course and then to lose the refutation in the next confection it dreams up. Working on the principal that the first punch is the decider it probably impresses some.

Alas, whatever paper you read it is a case of preaching to the converted and what they hope to gain by it is anyone’s guess; telling the committed what they already want to believe, how does that move the agenda?

However, the great tragedy of that paper is also attached to an even greater calumny, its incestuous relationship with the BBC. Whereas you can, as I have, not buy a newspaper it is difficult to avoid the Corporation. The brazen manner in which it has insinuated ‘someone’s’ opinion on the general public is that of a rebel band seizing the means of broadcasting. Somewhere along the line a putsch has taken place and something that was redolent of the ‘Home Service’ has taken the mantle of a social liberal activism.

It is not so much about what it says, although much of it seems to be contemptible and apologies or corrections avoided, it is what it chooses to promote as being of general interest. The mores of immature minds and political affiliations that are usually the preserve of the private individual. Its sense of self importance attached to its intrusion leads to mere front men like Andrew Marr being prosecutors in staged trials victims barked at and their purpose humbled, talked-over in an effort to what, to test their strength of their patience?

So when Mr Marr alighted on the tragedy of the recent stabbings he could castigate Johnson to the point of suggesting that the PM was an accomplice or at least an enabler! British law and the conduct of the nation are a confection brought about by the dabblings of all our political parties. They are the detritus of a few hundred years of imposition, self-aggrandisement and inconsequential diversions. That this inverted pyramid should be on one man’s head is a ridiculous sentiment, which weaponises intolerance in that a new Prime Minister whose minsterial leanings are yet to be tested should be rounded upon for the tangled misdeeds of others, sentenced with glib rhetoric and verbal assailing.

It was a lesson to us all that the victim did not respond in kind. It was instructive that instead of declining into dudgeon and ranting, so emblematic of our society, Johnson maintained his dignity and informed of what HE would do. The media used to be our servant but now propagates the story of unseen hands who probably think that it is all great sport and worthy of a close up

Michael Lynch

4th December 2019 at 8:04 pm

Extremely well put.

Mister Joshua

4th December 2019 at 2:11 am

“It has been used as a battering ram against Boris Johnson, the tabloid newspapers, and anyone who thinks terrorists should be dealt with more harshly.”

Well, the Tories have been in power for how many years now? What’s stopped them from dealing with terrorists more harshly? Nothing. Fact is, they don’t want to deal with terrorists more harshly than any other party, or than the sleaze at The Guardian.

Developed countries aren’t democracies any more. There is a political class, trained in our universities, and they all rule more or less the same, despite the sound and fury we see in the media. Conservative and/or Classical Liberal poiticians may in theory disagree with what the left-wing political elites say and do, but they won’t actually do anything effectively different.

Wake up, people. You live in a make believe democracy. It’s not which blabbermouth wins some meaningless election that decides who runs the country, it’s the institutions that train our bureaucrats, technocrats, media and journalists, our schoolteachers, and our lawyers and judges. You have absolutely no say in any of that. None. The universities are dominated – not just by the left – but by the far-left. They’ve been a one-party state since the early 90s when the last of the old school faculty members were pushed out, retired, or died.

Cedar Grove

7th December 2019 at 11:46 am

There’s an assault on free thinking and independence of mind from all directions. Many people see that happening in their own area, but aren’t aware that it’s not co fined to what they see for themselves.

Politics, education, the media, and increasingly, the law, are all headed in the same direction.

Simon Loveland

2nd January 2020 at 6:20 pm

What’s stopped them from dealing with terrorists more harshly – Er, have you ever heard of Theresa May? The same Theresa May who went ‘dancing’ in South Africa, at the same time as white South African farmers were being brutally murdered in their own homes?


3rd December 2019 at 10:20 pm

The Guardian has reached the bottom of the swamp

Robert Spowart

3rd December 2019 at 10:05 pm

Is Rehabilitation of ex-terrorists a noble aim?
Visit a graveside, talk to an apostate with an acid ravaged face, talk to the maimed, the FGM victims. Childless parents. Orphans. Talk to the dead. It’s not a ‘noble’ aim to rehabilitate religiously motivated murdering child rapists and slavers.

Virtue signalling kills. Destroys, maims. You feel good and the BBC and the cold hearted university robots will cheer you on, but your ‘nobility’ sent others (who actually are innocent) to their graves and the survivors into hell.

How terrible noble they all are. The judge who freed this murderer should be in prison for life for he is a murderer.

Simon Loveland

2nd January 2020 at 6:25 pm

Very well said. I agree with your post 100%. I couldn’t help noticing the olympian smugness of Jack Merrit’s expression – Somebody who obviously thinks he’s so clever, he can de-radicalise a dangerous terrorist in a 45 minute therapy session – He found out the hard way he’s not as clever as he obviously liked to think of himself…

I mean what part of DANGEROUS TERRORIST does he NOT understand???

Michael Lynch

3rd December 2019 at 9:29 pm

If the pharisaical left can use an autistic child to push their climate change ideals and also use the death of a MP to damn Brexit, then they’ll think nothing of using the death of an innocent to promote themselves. If the the British people fall for Corbyn’s dangled carrots and don’t hammer the life out of Labour in the GE, then they deserve everything they get.

Glenn Bell

3rd December 2019 at 10:46 pm

I couldn’t agree more & Im fed up trying to reason with Corbynites, as you say if they want him and gets into #10 then everybody who voted for his ruinous rabble will fully deserve everything they get in the way of debt, unemployment, even worse public transport, higher taxes and all the other debris which will fall upon them; I wont be here, if Corbyn wins I’m leaving, theres no way I could live in a communist dictatorship.

Colin Broughton

3rd December 2019 at 8:41 pm

Yes they are following the injunctions of the Qur’an and the example of Mohammad, who that same Qur’an declares is an ‘excellent pattern ‘ of conduct . (Surah All-‘Ahzab v.21)

And it is Mohammad who declared, ‘I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them’ (Surah 8:12)

Western liberals and leftists who think that pious Muslims have misconstrued Islam are saying that they are better interpreters of the Qur’an than was Mohammad.

Michael Lynch

3rd December 2019 at 9:58 pm

Therein lies the nub. We in the West have been traveling the road to wisdom via self doubt for a some time now. Something reinforced by our higher education system; for example, as soon as you research your first essay your central argument is immediately challenged by a set of reasonable counter arguments that must be considered before any conclusion. This ability to self question is also reinforced by our religious values. As a Catholic, it was always drummed into us that in order to be a better Christian then it was necessary to continually question one’s faith. However, from what I have read there seems little facility for this in Islam. So while most educated Westerners self doubt themselves into empathy for their fellow human beings, Muslim fundamentalists cannot and will not. Indeed, they seem resolute and unmovable in their belief, so much so that they are prepared to take life and die doing so. This is a clash of titanic forces and we in the West must now be prepared to be absolutely intolerant of the intolerant if we believe in the survival of our values.

Tim Wheeler

3rd December 2019 at 7:57 pm

I was disgusted at The Guardian. Can’t blame the poor father but those who exploited him are vile. We MUST protect our citizens from maniacs.

Jill W

3rd December 2019 at 7:44 pm

I watched this emerge yesterday evening and initially felt quite scared, helpless, on the back foot. I assume I was supposed to feel like that. No benefit of the doubt for questioners like me.
Grief affords anyone a platform but does not entitle them to own the debate. And as for those who rally round to give us all a good telling off, have the last word, close us down by using the hate tag…..? The irony is, I had only seen outpourings of kindness towards the relatives and the victims, including this gifted young man. I hope the preachy have not spoiled that.

Paul Carlin

3rd December 2019 at 7:26 pm

Nobody ‘weaponised’ Jo Cox’s murder. Much.

John Reic

3rd December 2019 at 8:05 pm

One of three pictures I saw of vote remain posters out next to flowers that laid in memorial to jo Cox

Brandy Cluster

3rd December 2019 at 8:30 pm

Oh, so her family were part of that? I didn’t know.

Geoff Cox

3rd December 2019 at 5:53 pm

Hate comes from the Guardian day after day after day.

Brandy Cluster

3rd December 2019 at 8:36 pm

You are 100% correct. Nobody at that rag has a scintilla of the intelligence of Brendan O’Neill – nor the bravery. I don’t always agree with Brendan, but I respect the courage he often displays in calling things by name. Straight to the point, without fear or favour. Not like “The Guardian” which plays to his mostly undergraduate, genteel-poverty elites and the acolytes of the degraded Left and surrender monkeys to any and all floating ‘ideologies’. An outlet for gulls and the truly aggrieved. Even their cartoons are nasty and vicious!!

As for Mr. Merritt and his family; I’m very sorry for their loss – it’s just about the worst thing in the world which can happy to any parent. The grief will be visceral for a long time. Several significant anniversaries and family events will go by in the ensuing years without their son and they’ll drift into old age inevitably wondering – like the priest languishing in the retirement home and who cannot afford to consider if there really is a god! – whether the rehabilitation and care of vicious criminals and terrorists was reason enough for their son to die. It’s going to be a vexing question for them; like the priest, they’ll either accept their ‘doubt’ or become hardened and resentful. That’s my take from 70 years on this planet.

Brandy Cluster

3rd December 2019 at 8:37 pm

Sorry, I see I’ve made some typos in my comment!!

Michael Lynch

3rd December 2019 at 10:06 pm

I stopped reading the Guardian years ago. It has become equivalent of Pravda.

steven brook

3rd December 2019 at 4:16 pm

It would seem during the ‘Learning Together’ prisoner rehabilitation session; someone suggested Usman Khan should ask himself the question “what would Muhammad do?” For some reason it all went pear shaped from then!

Linda Payne

3rd December 2019 at 3:50 pm

Years ago it was the religious zealots who preached about good and evil, love and hate, now we have the left doing it. Brendan is right these type of articles target those of us who just wish these terrorists did not exist at all, I hate them and I am angry every time I hear of another attack. I fear for my safety and others because those in power do not have the guts to do something such as keeping these ‘people’ in prison for the whole of their sentences for a start. Forgiveness in this sense is becoming a problem, it ushers in leniency and we must resist this. Make no mistake these islamics HATE US, no amount of rehab and kind words is going to change their minds and we want a government that prioritises our safety over the rights of the terrorists. It is not another crime they are waging war and they have to be dealt with as the enemies they are

Brandy Cluster

3rd December 2019 at 8:41 pm

Great points, Linda. One of the worst things about this Islamic horror is the victim-blaming enacted by the likes of Corbyn (as if that wasn’t proof enough that university types are patently unsuitable for leadership!). If we could only harness one tenth of the hatred exhibited in “The Guardian” we could all find a way to deal effectively with this vicious scourge – terrorism.

Brian Burnell

3rd December 2019 at 2:52 pm

Thanks for this Brendan.
Sat watching the Papers Review on SKY Thursday night while shouting at the box that Jack and his father were wrong about rehabilitation, while trying hard not to throw a brick at the TV, I was shouting a condensed form of what Bredan wites here.

Some ordinary criminals are amenable and suitable for rehabilitation programmes, and I’m with Jack and his father on that and laud them for it. They deserve our best efforts to wean them off offending and onto a productive life. However, fundamentalists of any and all religions are not ordinary offenders in any sense. They cannot be persuaded that there is a better way, and it is futile to try. Just as it is futile to try to persuade a wild animal that they should be nice to humans. Instead we cage them or isolate them from their vulnerable victims. We put vicious dogs down to protect other dogs and humans. Just as we don’t feel in the least guilty about poisioning rats, cockroaches and other vermin.

Major Bonkers

3rd December 2019 at 2:37 pm

Could one not describe the Koran as ‘an agenda of hate’?

Or ‘The Guardian’, come to that.

Major Bonkers

3rd December 2019 at 6:21 pm

However much one sympathises with Jack Merritt’s parents, one must also acknowledge that the dangerous naivity displayed by both father and son put Jack in harm’s way.

According to Richard Littledick of the Daily Mail, the various bleeding hearts seeking to rehabilitate Khan also arranged a sponsored run in order to buy him a computer.

Peter Wright

3rd December 2019 at 1:58 pm

Spot on Brendan ! You remind me of Hitch in full flow and I don’t say that lightly ! He was justly famous for cutting through all the pc nonsense and focusing on the heart of the issue.

Brandy Cluster

3rd December 2019 at 8:42 pm

Bravo. Hitch is so very much missed. It’s 8 years this month since he left us.

Amelia Cantor

4th December 2019 at 9:41 am

Brendan is nothing like “The Hitch”. Brendan isn’t a windbag, warmonger or neo-con. See if you can guess who wrote this and give reasons for your choice:

In every profession or quasi-profession, committees of notables—and Do-does—are mpaneled to decide this distribution of honors, garlands, plaques, wreaths, bribes, logrollings, and party favors. As I plowed through the list of shy, husky, backstabbing and back-scratching events that make up the endless prize calendar and provide easy, do-it-yourself copy to lazy reporters in every state and city, I came to love the Jeffs. The Jeffs are not a cartoon-sitcom dysfunctional family but a committee which exists—nay, lives—to award the Jeff, a trophy which “annually honors excellence in Chicago’s theater.” Last year, a vast food fight erupted over the Jeffs’ policy of charging admission, even to nominees, for the annual sash-bestowing ceremony. The local Tribune writer gave it his all: “Swelling protest … emergency reversal … uphill struggle … retrieve credibility.” The usual problems were cited—falloff in corporate sponsorship being, no less usually, the principal one.

L Strange

3rd December 2019 at 1:55 pm

Mr Merritt is clearly so ideologically possessed that he can’t direct his anger at the man who actually killed his son – it would mean facing the fact that both his and his son’s ideas were wrong. Thus he’s clutching at straws for an alternative he feels comfortable with. He’s entitled to express his grief as he sees fit, of course, but he doesn’t have the right to gamble with the lives of others to save himself from the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.

These programs, such as Jack Merritt were a part of, are doomed to failure when dealing with terrorists. Terrorism is a different sort of crime than those committed by other criminals in that it has, ipso facto, an ideological basis, and a theological one in the case of Islamism.

To ‘de-radicalise’ an Islamist requires convincing him that he’s doing Islam all wrong. There is nothing he would accept as authoritative that shows that because he isn’t a ‘radical’, he’s a fundamentalist following the first principles of the faith in the Qur’an, the Hadith and the Sunna. Until the establishment will admit that to themselves the ‘de-radicalisation’ strategies will never work as they’re currently based on a wishful thinking narrative that Islamists have strayed from and are following a twisted, perverted new version of Islam. But they’re not, they’re following the original, ‘pure’ faith.

Dominic Straiton

3rd December 2019 at 4:06 pm

Perfectly put. They will never admit to the truth of the problem. That would mean they have been wrong all along. Its all going to get much worse and will never get any better.

Brandy Cluster

3rd December 2019 at 8:47 pm

The take-home message is that like father, like son the sadly deceased man so full of promise, energy and hope was doomed to a narrow ideological world view which ultimate became self-defeating. In having been raised with this shallow and naive ideology, the young Merritt was misguided and put in harm’s way, rather than taught to be skeptical and ultra cautious about the motives of others. Like any other form of predation, Islamic terrorism is a fact of life and rendering it a ‘protected species’ (like the deadly Brown Snake in Australia) is going to result in deaths.

Davy Hayes

3rd December 2019 at 5:25 pm

Well put. I can’t help but think that maybe this poor man can’t direct his anger at his son’s killer because he may then have to face the fact that he imparted his ideas to his son in the first place?

Jim Lawrie

3rd December 2019 at 10:52 pm

The murder was predictable. That neither father nor son accepted this does makes it no less true. Had Jack Merritt not been hacked, stabbed and bled to death, had he survived his stint at the sharp end of his profession, he would have been extolling the righteousness of his beliefs.

Had Khan survived no doubt the mad card would have come out, and he would have continued to extoll the righteousness of his beliefs.

All on the public purse.

Happily for the politicos, few are questioning the wisdom of either mindset. It has been reduced to inexplicable evil versus virtuous good.

BTW L Strange, thanks for the effort of such a well written post.

Claire Thomas

3rd December 2019 at 1:48 pm

Two young people died last week cut down before their adult lives had begun, a tragedy and unnecessary but where have vigils been from the leaders of the main parties for the 23 victims of stabbing in London this year?

Linda Payne

3rd December 2019 at 3:54 pm

They were not terrorist attacks and there has been a lot of publicity over knife crime, mainly perpetrated by black youths on other black youths and I don’t really know the answer to this but I would guess rehab would be of some benefit unlike this terrorist

George Orwell

3rd December 2019 at 1:00 pm

Bizarrely, I see no mention of Johnson’s primary obligation as Prime Minister to keep his people safe.
Suppose Johnson were to go along with this guff and more innocents were killed. Would Merritt and his ilk accept personal responsibility for such deaths or would they still be attacking Johnson but for neglect of duty instead?
The attitude of the lefties is utterly irrational and irresponsible.

Anders k

3rd December 2019 at 12:53 pm

We all deal with grief in different ways but this is quite astounding, Where’s the anger for the murderer of his son and the hateful ideology that inspired it ? All the anger from the left has been directed at Johnson in the wake of this attack, it’s mind boggling, they really do want to just brush the Islamist threat under the carpet, don’t they ?

Anders k

3rd December 2019 at 12:49 pm

How exactly is Johnson using it to push an agenda of hatred ? Fair enough if you think he’s exploiting the incident for political gain but hatred ? All he is doing is advocating longer sentencing for convicted terrorists, I don’t see how this is considered hateful.

Gerard Barry

3rd December 2019 at 4:34 pm

The word “hatred” is used nowadays to stifle any debate about Islamic extremism or immigration. The link between the latter two phenomena is also taboo of course.

James Knight

3rd December 2019 at 12:24 pm

The Guardian recently ran a story about Johnson dodging the debate on climate change. The first line of the article was about Boris Johnson and his apparent lack of use of condoms. That set the tone for the kind of “debate” Guardian is interested in.

I did post quotes from top NASA climate scientist which were of course censored, as was any reference to them. Turns out they are the ones running away from debate.

Despite their posture of moral superiority, Guardian journalism is little different to anything else you can find at the bottom of the social media swamp.

Dominic Straiton

3rd December 2019 at 12:23 pm

Next he will be ordering us to “not look back in anger” . No thanks.

Kirth Gersen

3rd December 2019 at 12:22 pm

Thank you Spiked for pointing out the clear hypocrisy by elements of media today, led as always by The Guardian and its columnists. They shriek at Johnson and the Tories for politicising these deaths and the terrorist attack that caused them whilst politicising the whole situation themselves. Yet they studiously try to avoid mentioning the cause of this terrorism or they have done everything in their power over the years to excuse it, hide its nature or even condone it.

Brandy Cluster

3rd December 2019 at 8:49 pm

“The Guardian” seems to have a particularly naive cohort and readership. At 15 I wouldn’t have read their rubbish and accepted it. Why? Because I had a set of principles developed in our family during those years which rubbed up against the ‘anything goes’ ideologies of those who’ve never had any.

Amelia Cantor

3rd December 2019 at 12:22 pm

I don’t understand why Comrade Brendan is not calling loudly for the only thing that will end these regrettable cries for help from misguided members of the Muslim community:

* Open borders.

Is Brendan not proud of the many years during which he has advocated open borders? Surely he must be. Absolute, uncondition free movement is a core humanist principle. Open borders will sweep away white supremacism and institute a truly progressive society that places humanity at its centre. Of course, that truly progressive society will have no place for “free speech”, that core fetish of the Spiked community, but Brendan’s Irish, so we can forgive him for not getting that bit.

(Only jokin’! I stand in solidarity with the Irish community against all Hibernophobic hate-statements around inbreeding and depressed IQ.)

an Islamist ideology that openly advocates the slaughter of innocents and the degradation of Western society.

Western society (so-called) is already degraded beyond redemption. Open borders will allow us to end racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, sexism, homophobia and all other ideological diseases. Then there will be no more slaughter of the innocents.

And no more “free speech”. Just like the Soviet Union after Lenin and Trotksy created a truly progressive society there. I mean, they had the death-penalty for anti-semitism in the Soviet Union. They knew that hate has no place in a progressive Marxist state.

Gerard Barry

3rd December 2019 at 1:20 pm

I’m Irish and I take offence at your bigoted remarks about my people.

John Reic

3rd December 2019 at 8:12 pm

I think Amelia is a parody

Amelia Cantor

4th December 2019 at 9:35 am

I’m Irish and I take offence at your bigoted remarks about my people.

I made it clear that I was joking and that I stand in solidarity with the Iritsh community against all attempts to suggest that if nine Irishmen walked into a bar, the tenth one would duck.

Amanda Purdy

5th December 2019 at 3:29 am

This is the third totally deranged rant that I have seen in my short time of reading comments. It is quite hard to believe that this person is real as she is so caricatured. Is it someone doing an “Andrew Doyle” impersonation.

James Knight

3rd December 2019 at 11:53 am

When his family said they don’t want his death to be exploited by people promoting “hate” I had to agree.

But I assumed he was referring to the perpetrator. It is bizarre to focus on Johnson or the “right wing” press.

Danny Rees

3rd December 2019 at 11:46 am

Only a few days after Brendan used the London terror attack to attack the Left and rail against silencing of outrage over Islamic terrorism

Jerry Owen

3rd December 2019 at 1:39 pm

Danny Rees
As long as you can see a link .. all’s good !

eli Bastenbury

3rd December 2019 at 11:43 am

Find me the leftist who argues for the early release of Anders Breivik.

Tom Taylor-Duxbury

3rd December 2019 at 11:40 am

We know who hates whom here.

Jerry Owen

3rd December 2019 at 11:28 am

Has anyone read how the Islamist killer got his fake backpack into the room and indeed how he got it on ?
I haven’t found out.

K Tojo

3rd December 2019 at 12:21 pm

I’ll take a guess: the rehabilitators assumed their methods had worked, that the killer had seen the error of his ways and had now, by kindness and persuasion rather than primitive retribution (which they despise), been revealed as a basically decent chap beneath that superficial radicalised exterior. It would, of course, be “counter productive” not to say discourteous to suggest that he still needed to be carefully monitored.

Jerry Owen

3rd December 2019 at 11:19 am

Jack may have been ‘fine’ and ‘principled’ , but tragically he was wrong.
As for David Merritt he politicized this event the following day with an attack on Johnson.
Mr Merritt reminds me of Brendan Cox, who cynically used his wife’s death to further his political agenda… interestingly the very next day as in this instance also. If you want maximum traction for your propaganda get it in the press quick hot. The left didn’t even let it get to luke warm such is their complete lack of not just only respect but self respect too. They are a disgrace.

Matt Ryan

4th December 2019 at 7:32 am

Always worth pointing out Brendan’s wandering hands and having to leave overly well paid charity jobs.

James Rooks

3rd December 2019 at 10:52 am

For a while now, I have been reading the Guardian and wondering if they have a new sugar daddy with a nefarious agenda. The adverts begging for donations aren’t as common either.

Jerry Owen

3rd December 2019 at 11:25 am

The only adverts I like are in the Guardian where they ask for my money.
I have great pleasure in reading their scribblings which I value at around tuppence ha’penny (Owen Jones is good at satire without even knowing it) then reading their begging letter which I happily ignore.. well, I do use an expletive which is not for public consumption here !

Noel Mac

26th December 2019 at 12:26 pm

Unlike me. I give the guardian money as I would if I brought it at a paper shop. I want to know the enemy and this enemy reveals itself every day for a quid. Money well worth paying

William Murphy

3rd December 2019 at 11:28 am

There are ways and means of pushing an agenda. The academic field is wide open to sugar daddies. All donations welcome. My favourite example is the allegedly Catholic university of Georgetown which is allegedly run by the Jesuits. Except that it received $20 million of oil money for its Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU). Any Christian pushing the understanding that we are in the House of War until we submit to Sharia Law is unlikely to get a friendly welcome.

I am sure there are similar back channel ways of steering money in the direction of sympathetic whores, sorry, sorry, journalists….

Gerard Barry

3rd December 2019 at 10:30 am

What sort of a father is David Merritt that he isn’t angry at the man that killed his son and the ideology that spawned him? If you want to see hate, look there and not at the so-called “right-wing” media, political parties and people reacting with rigtheous anger to the terror attack.

Liz Davison

3rd December 2019 at 10:48 am

Exactly. I fear he’s in denial about his role in this appalling tragedy. His son, at 23, was still maturing. His idealism suggests someone desperate to achieve some kind of catharsis and a parent would normally try to temper this passion with a little sensible dialogue. I certainly would never have wanted either of my daughters anywhere near such an experimental organisation. It was plainly amateurish and extremely naive. What parent wants to admit their own failings after such a tragedy? Mrs, Bulger was undoubtedly similarly afflicted. She let go of her son’s hand. She wasn’t to blame but feels responsible. Her anger at the murderers was a normal reaction though. This father’s pleading is embarrassing.

Gerard Barry

3rd December 2019 at 11:31 am

Given the father’s response to his son’s death, I think it’s obvious where Jack got his misguided liberal attitudes. I hate to criticise a grieving father but I just find his response so weird. Is this a symptom of Western decline? Raise your kids to support criminals and then not even show any anger towards said crinminals when they murder your kids? And not only that but subsequently direct your misplaced at an imaginary enemy, in this case the “right-wing” media and politicians. How strange.

William Murphy

3rd December 2019 at 11:40 am

Was this organisation open to all criminals seeking redemption? One of the heroes who actually resisted the nutter was himself the perpetrator of a horrible murder of a vulnerable young woman. Are all violent and depraved criminals welcome to such Learning Together events? One obvious lesson to Learn Together for any such future events is to have a few hefty gentlemen with bulges in their jackets discretely seated at the back. But I doubt that any will be willing to learn.

Noel Mac

26th December 2019 at 12:23 pm


David McAdam

3rd December 2019 at 11:08 am

What kind of father indeed? To detach himself from mourning the loss of his son in order to instead give voice not only to what he imagines his son might say but also to a pathology that has irresistibly gripped and warped his psyche. Moreover, what is wrong with hating the barbarism that took his son’s life? It’s a natural reaction. Then again, he’d probably argue that it isn’t but rather it’s a socially constructed one.

Gerard Barry

3rd December 2019 at 11:54 am

It would be like the father of a child abused by a Catholic priest arguing that we shouldn’t criticise the Catholic Church AT ALL for the abuse perpetrated by so many of its priests. I say that as a semi-practicing Catholic myself. This inability to talk openly about Islamist terror is truly shocking.

Noel Mac

26th December 2019 at 12:22 pm


Mark Houghton

3rd December 2019 at 10:11 am

I wonder just how relaxed the Islamic threat The Guardian would be if their offices had a visit a la Charlie Hebdo?

Gerard Barry

3rd December 2019 at 10:31 am

Don’t worry – the Guardian tends to apologise for Islamist atrocities, not provoke them.

Cedar Grove

7th December 2019 at 11:48 am

The Guardian explicitly refused to support the Danish cartoonists, or Charlie Hebdo. They prefer to grovel in justification of Islamist violence, and certainly never investigate how far its source may be Islamic.

Noel Mac

26th December 2019 at 12:21 pm

The Same probably

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