An attack on the liberty of all

EVEN though the West has become accustomed to terrorist attacks perpetuated by depraved militants, the pre-meditated attack on defenceless holiday-makers in Tunisia – and also the beheading of a man in a separate atrocity at a French factory – could not have been more sickening.

Though the full, horrific details are still emerging, the harrowing accounts of those British tourists who fled the bloodshed will have resonance with all – these were innocent families relaxing in the sun when confronted by the very worst of mankind.

No passage of the Koran, or any other religious teaching, justifies the barbarity that was unleashed against the softest of soft targets by bloodthirsty terrorists. Why these tourists sunbathing on the beach? If those responsible believe they will deter Britons from going on holiday, they are even more deluded – this country was resolute in its response to the July 7 suicide bombings a decade ago and such steadfastness is the only response to such tragedies.

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This will be even more critical if these outrages, and a separate incident in Kuwait, are linked to the proclamation of an ‘Islamic State’ on June 29 last year by jihadists who despise Western values. For, while Isis forces have been contained of late in Syria and Iraq, they – and their acolytes – still pose a threat to liberty of all. Yet, while international leaders like David Cameron were united in their condemnation, this solidarity needs to extend beyond the aftermath of such atrocities. There must be a redoubling of efforts to not only neutralise those extremists wreaking havoc in the Middle East, but also to silence those radicals who have been poisoning young minds with a twisted ideology. On this, the time has now come for Mr Cameron to seek more common ground with all those nations on the front line in this struggle to uphold, and protect, civilised values. He owes this to the latest victims.

Minister’s defiance over Yorkshire rail betrayal

AS A newly-appointed minister, Harrogate MP Andrew Jones was duty-bound to defend the Department for Transport’s position – and respond to The Yorkshire Post’s hard-hitting editorial – after the Government put its £38bn railway investment plan on hold so it could overhaul crisis-hit Network Rail.

“This is a pause, not a stop, and this change to the team will strengthen it to make sure we deliver. We remain hugely ambitious and that is why the budget remains intact,” stressed the Minister.

All eyes will now be on Mr Jones being able to implement this commitment. For, like it or not, the decision to defer the electrification of the Trans-Pennine Express 
and Midland Mainline is at odds with the hype generated by the pre-election rhetoric.

Even though Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin did warn in March that there would be a delay to the upgrading of the Leeds to Manchester route, this did not stop Chancellor George Osborne announcing on April 29 plans to electrify the link between Hull and Selby. Ironically, this was part of the Tory party’s action plan for Yorkshire for the first 100 days of a Conservative-led government.

And then there is the chronic mismanagement of Network Rail, an organisation which invariably goes by the name of ‘Network Fail’.

The regret is that it has taken Mr McLouglin so long since his appointment in September 2012 to get to grips with the management structure of an organisation which continues to be entrusted with vast sums of taxpayers’ money. If the Transport Secretary had done so sooner, he would not have left top Tories so open to the accusation of betrayal and wider concerns about the party’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

Rights and wrongs: Actress Sheila hancock in car insurance farce

IF ONLY actress Sheila Hancock’s late husband John Thaw – television’s Inspector Morse – was still alive. For, if he was, his detective skills could be applied to the vagaries of car insurance premiums which appear to penalise more mature drivers on grounds of ageism.

The case for the prosecution is a strong one. Despite not having made claims in more than six decades on the road, Ms Hancock’s premium with Admiral Insurance has risen by an “absurd” £1,373 in a year and now stands at an extorionate £2,246.79 for her modest Mini Cooper.

However the defence argument is that the thespian has been involved in two minor collisions in recent years and that no-fault collisions do inflate premiums. It doesn’t make sense. For how can a driver in the right end up being in the wrong – and so out of pocket?