We will never tolerate being killed for a kiss

Ken Livingstone, London mayoral candidate for Labour, spoke at North London Central Mosque last week. You may remember it as Finsbury Park mosque; or as the lair of Captain Hook.

Following the tenure of Abu Hamza al-Masri as imam, the name and image change was part of the healing process. Livingstone fondly believes he is, too.

He told those attending Friday prayers that he would make London a beacon of Islam. ‘I want to spend the next four years making sure that every non-Muslim in London knows and understands its words and  message,’ he said.

Grandstanding: Ken Livingstone speaking at Finsbury Park Mosque

Grandstanding: Ken Livingstone speaking at Finsbury Park Mosque

He promised to educate the mass of Londoners, a somewhat high-handed approach considering that every day, existing side-by-side with a huge variety of races, cultures and religions, the urbanites of Britain prove themselves the truest beacons of tolerance, with the  minimum of assistance from grand-standing politicians.

Still, after Ken spoke, a funny thing happened: a poll commissioned by BBC’s Panorama revealed that almost one-fifth of young  British Asians think a woman deserves to be physically punished if she brings dishonour on her  family; another three per cent believe honour killing can be justified.

So it turns out it is not the majority of non-Asian Londoners that require education in the wisdom of the prophet. It is 18 per cent of Asians, male and female, aged between 16 and 34, who need to brush up on the laws of the land — particularly those governing physical assault and murder.

Thankfully, unlike many religious screeds, these rules are not ambiguous, contradictory or open to wacky interpretation. Violence against women: out. Murder: right out. Nobody requires years of contemplation to understand the meaning here. Kiss, kiss, doesn’t end in bang, bang, folks. Lesson ends.

There are between ten and 12 honour killings each year, according to Nazir Afzal of the Crown Prosecution Service. The details are horrific. Banaz Mahmod, murdered by her family and buried in a suitcase for kissing her boyfriend at a Tube station. Nosheen Azam, left brain-dead after being discovered aflame in her garden. Nosheen was in an abusive arranged relationship; it cannot be said for certain if her vegetative state is the result of attempted murder or attempted suicide.

What are the boundaries of dishonour? Kids stuff, really. Basic freedoms. Disobeying father, wanting free of an arranged marriage. Even the term ‘honour killing’ is problematic. This is violence and murder, nothing fancier. Dying for a kiss is not cultural and if some believe it is, politicians like Ken need to come down hard for education; even if it costs a few votes.

For it is not the mass of Londoners that need schooling, but those small segments of society still equating faith with misogynistic brutality. No doubt Ken would have spoken out against that, also, but he was too busy making further, not at all desperate, election promises (as well as fighting off allegations over his own tax affairs).

Tragic: Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha, 20, the victim of an 'honour' killing

Tragic: Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha, 20, the victim of an 'honour' killing

He told the faithful he was going to make their lives ‘a bit easier financially’. Maybe he is giving them the name of his accountant.


So 12 bus drivers won £38 million on the EuroMillions lottery and did not turn up for work on Monday. What did you expect?

True, it must have been frustrating trying to get about in Corby,  little knowing if the morning shift were in bed with a hangover or still out toasting their good fortune. Yet isn’t their reaction more human than those strange bods who announce they will be reporting for toilet cleaning duty as usual and putting their £40 million win towards a second-hand Ford Mondeo and a fortnight’s caravanning in Rhyl?

I’d make such people hand the cheque back.


Fear: The dreaded hotel card 'room key'

Fear: The dreaded hotel card 'room key'

Why plastic’s not so fantastic

Stayed at the Radisson in Manchester on Wednesday night. ‘Your room is on the 12th floor, you’ll need your card key to operate the lift,’ said a smiling receptionist, handing me the time vampire that is the rectangle of plastic used to access hotel rooms these days.

Got in the lift, inserted card. Nothing. Tried again. All still. Back to reception for a second key card. Back to the lift. Bloke in the lift, just checked in, needed to go to level eight. Inserted his card. Nothing. Tried again. You know the drill by now.

By the time I left I was on my fourth key card and had been resident 16 hours. ‘Checking out?’ asked a receptionist, as I stood before her in sweat-soaked gym clothes, stranded again. I know what you’re thinking. I left it next to my mobile phone. Come on? How old do you think I am? I travel a lot. I know what demagnetises hotel room keys by now. Phones. iPods. iPads. Credit cards. Synthetic materials. Natural materials. Life. Anything made of a substance other than spider silk is Kryptonite to a key card, as far as I can see.

How sensible of the hotel industry to devise a system of entry that contributes exponentially to the inconvenience/irritability correlation in their guests.

Have you ever known the front door to a person’s house that is opened by an electric key card? There is a reason for that.


A commercial that says there is no shame in one-night stands has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority. Actually, it says something more specific — that there is no shame in one-night stands if you are wearing a Harvey Nichols frock. Working-class girls, dressed affordably — well, they’re just sluts.