I would give my eye-teeth to write half as well as Sir Max Hastings. Having edited the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard, he returned to jobbing journalism even more successfully than before.
His military pieces contain masterly analysis; his political and social examinations are always thought provoking.
None more so than today’s article in the Daily Mail titled Years of liberal dogma have spawned a generation of amoral, uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalised youngsters in which he examines the background to the riots in England.
It makes uncomfortable reading for someone such as me, who believes in social justice all be it of the hand up rather than hand-out variety.
Read it for yourself; the headline tells the tale.
It would be too easy to dismiss the piece as a prime example of Daily Mail handwringing. Hastings, too with the persona of a tweedy country squire, is a large target for those who play the man when they can’t get the ball.
But if Hastings is a High Tory, then he is a peculiar one who advised readers to support Labour in the 1997 and 2001 General Elections and writes regularly for the left-wing Press.
Perhaps it is legitimate to question what makes Hastings an expert on “the bottom of our society (where there) is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations” if it were not his observations strike a resonant chord.
Allowing that his prejudices permit no shade, I fear many are my prejudices too. It requires some one of a greater intellect on the Left than either Ken Livingstone or Harriet Harman – who seem content to blame the year-old Coalition for the riots rather than decades of moral decay – to challenge the ‘Hastings position’.
I look to Labour leader Ed Miliband to give the speech of his life in the recalled Commons tomorrow. I want to hear him support law and order but most of all I want him to acknowledge, as Hastings, writes: “These kids are what they are because nobody makes them be anything different or better. “
I hope Miliband trumps Hastings and suggests some solutions. For all his great rhetoric, Hastings falls at the last hurdle.
He concludes his article calling on those who run Britain to “introduce incentives for decency and impose penalties for bestiality which are today entirely lacking.”
Easier said than done is my trite but, I think, true response.