There was a queer irony in the timing of al-Qaeda's fresh warning to London yesterday, coinciding as it did with the sudden death of conservative columnist Richard Littlejohn. At first glance, it's hard to draw any concrete comparisons between Richard Littlejohn, author of 'To Hell in a Handcart' and Ayman al-Zawahri, Bin Laden's 'second in command' who declared that 'Blair has brought you destruction to the heart of London, and he will bring more destruction, God willing.'
Indeed these are two very different men - one British, one Arab. One a published author and vibrant social commentator, the other a wanted terrorist. One bearded, the other clean-shaven. One dead, the other - apparently - very much alive. But scratch beneath the surface and, mixed metaphor's aside, common ground begins to immerge. First and foremost, Littlejohn was a patriot.
A man who loved his country - his people - and who would do, or say, whatever it took to defend it. Yes, many found his language extreme, bigoted even, but you couldn't question his focus. Likewise al-Zawahri.
But Littlejohn and al-Zawahri have something even more important - and frightening - in common. They both make us feel incredibly protective towards Tony Blair. With every pathetic pop Littlejohn took at Cherie 'the Wicked Witch' Blair or her husband's 'loony liberal' policies we couldn't help ourselves from standing up and shouting 'no, fuck you Littlejohn, Tony's alright.' And likewise,
with al-Qaeda and their attempts to force Londoners to ditch Blair if we want to live in any kind of safety, our instinct is do precisely the opposite. No, fuck you, al-Zawahri - Tony's a good enough sort. Sure, he's had his ups and downs - he ignored us over Iraq, isolated us in Europe, stole our civil liberties, sucked off George Bush in the Oval Office and tried to evict Brian Haw - but at least he doesn't threaten to kill our children.
And there lies the fundamental flaw in al-Qaeda's grand plan. It completely fails to take into account Britain's proud history of awkwardness. Our determination to stick up for the little guy, no matter how much of a horse's arse he might be. It's what made us vote for Brian, and Cameron and Nadia to win Big Brother, or Will Young to win Pop Idol. It's what makes us drive at exactly the speed limit in the inside lane of the motorway simply because some twat in a Merc is tailgating us with his lights on full beam, and it's what makes us walk on the grass just because there's a sign telling us not to. And most importantly it's what made us get straight back on the tubes on the 8th July. We weren't being brave, we just refused to be told what to do by four brainwashed backpackers from Leeds.
Which brings us neatly to the riddle, wrapped in an enigma, varnished with a conundrum that is George Galloway. This week the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow travelled to the Middle East and appeared on Syrian television to denounce British and American policy in the Middle East, claiming that Jerusalem and Baghdad are "beautiful Arab daughters... in the hands of foreigners". He also explained the actions of 'insurgents' in Iraq who 'with the lightest and most basic of weapons - are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable.'
Well. Gosh. We've got to admit, he's got us stumped. On the one hand, Galloway is the little firebrand that could - the man who took on a Blair babe in East London to protest against the war - and won - and the man who walked into the American Senate, lifted his kilt and shat right in the middle of their best Persian rug. But on the other hand, this is also the man who struts onto Arab television to encourage Iraqis to take up arms against British and American troops, who supports suicide bombers in Israel, who scatters libel suits like an explosion in a confetti factory and who, let's not mince words here, is possibly the biggest, most egotistical cock ever to grace the Commons chamber. And that's some achievement.
If we love men like Galloway then we hand terrorists like Ayman al-Zawahri an easy victory. But if we hate them then we're siding with the late, great, Littlejohn who once called Galloway a 'cocksucker' to his face. But the worst thing - the very worst thing of all - is that the more we read the ravings of nutters and bigots like Littlejohn, or al-Zawahri, or Galloway, the more we find ourselves automatically disagreeing with everything they say, and the more we want to agree with their enemies just to piss them off. And it's for that reason that The Friday Thing is proud to say 'yes' to Identity Cards, 'yes' to the western colonisation of the Middle East and 'yes' to Cherie Blair becoming the Church of England's first woman Bishop. That'll show 'em.
You couldn't make it up.