MAIL COMMENT: Too little, too late to halt the slide towards recession

New life may have been breathed into the housing market - but is it too little too late?

New life may have been breathed into the housing market - but is it too little too late?

Any help for those hardest hit by the credit crunch must be welcome. So let's at least raise one cheer for the Government's long-delayed attempt to breathe life into the housing market.

Yes, some first-time buyers (and buy-to-let speculators) may get a leg-up from the measures announced yesterday.

Yes, the package will rescue some struggling families - though no more than 6,000 - from the misery of repossession. And, yes, it will save a few builders' jobs. All of which is better than nothing.

But let's be realistic. After months of damaging dithering (and unhelpful interviews in the Guardian), none of this will have the slightest impact on our slide towards the recession which, says the OECD, will be upon Britain by Christmas.

The £1.6billion involved may sound vast (and we haven't a clue where it will come from). Certainly, it's enough to place a heavy burden on taxpayers, present or future.

But it's a drop in the ocean of what would be needed to make a noticeable difference - billions the Government can't begin to afford, after the fortune it squandered during the boom years.

Meanwhile, these measures will do nothing to tackle the homebuyer's main problem - the catastrophic shortage of affordable mortgages.

Indeed, doesn't this package look less like effective action than a desperate attempt to be seen to be doing something, for the sake of an easier ride at this month's Labour Conference?

One cheer for the Government? On second thoughts, make that a half.

Britain's death-wish

Clutching two supermarket bags, the man once described as Osama bin Laden's 'right-hand man in Europe' strolls down a London street, speaking to a companion who appears to repeat his words into a mobile phone.

The man with the shopping is hate preacher Abu Qatada, whose bail conditions forbid him to use a mobile as he awaits a final ruling on his extradition to Jordan over terrorist attacks.

And his companion? Surprise, surprise! He, too, is a dangerous extremist, on the run from Egypt where he has been sentenced to death for a car bomb killing.

Yet with characteristic incompetence, the Home Office has omitted Yasser Al-Sirri's name from the list of extremists with whom Qatada is forbidden to have contact while he is on bail.

And through a third party's mobile, of course, Qatada has access to any terrorist he may choose.

How can ministers let our sworn enemies consort like this, on the streets of the capital attacked by their fellow fanatics on 7/7?

Why, despite a dozen promises of 'crackdowns' on Islamist extremism, do they let preachers bay for British blood in supposedly moderate mosques?

Why, in the name of sanity, do they throw open our borders - and our welfare system - to those who wish us dead?

Many find it impossible to understand the fanaticism that drives bombers to suicide attacks. Isn't it just as hard to understand the liberal Establishment's suicidal failure to protect our country?

Affront to decency

On a visit to Afghanistan, David Cameron proposes one cheap, simple reform that would make the lives of our ill-equipped, overstretched, taken-for-granted troops a whole lot happier.

He says under the Tories, the days soldiers have to spend travelling home for rest in the UK will no longer be counted against their leave.

Just one question: why wasn't this affront to decency put right years ago?

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