Back in the old days I used to drive up from London every year and spend a week touring around Scotland. It was always a similar route: first night in Prestwick; perhaps a night in Glasgow; up to the West Highlands for several days and then finishing up in Edinburgh before the long drive back.
Once, I paid a visit to the head office of the West Highland Press in Broadford. As far as I recall they had advertised for an accountant and I had the rather mad idea of moving from Earls Court to Skye. I decided against applying, but who knows, maybe I could have converted the WHFP into Britain's first libertarian newspaper!
Its founder Brian Wilson became an MP and minister and I've always thought of him as being one of those know-nothing numpties that make up the majority in the Scottish Labour party. I've generally found his weekly articles in Scotland on Sunday to be trite in the extreme, although not perhaps as bad as those of Michael Portillo in the Times. This week, however, Wilson surprised me.
On the situation in the Middle East he writes:
In order to advise them on how they should respond, it may be helpful to imagine ourselves in the same position - however far-fetched that scenario may be. Israel is a very small country, less than one-third the landmass of Scotland. Its northern neighbour, Lebanon, has allowed the territory most adjacent to Israel to become the fiefdom of a military and political force, which has only one reason for existing - namely the destruction of Israel. On this matter Hezbollah, unlike governments in the region, does not mince its words and co-existence is not among them.
But if Lebanon cannot deal with, and indeed fully accommodates, Hezbollah then with whom - when the rockets start flying - is Israel's quarrel?
So deep-rooted is this hatred of Israel, not least in some ostensibly left-wing political circles, that its proponents are perfectly happy to make common cause with the dictatorships of the region which, on other grounds, they might reasonably be expected to deplore.
I would say especially
in left-wing political circles, but let that pass for Mr Wilson goes on to say this:
When criticised, it (Israel) can point out with justification that listening in the past to the same voices calling for restraint would have led to it being wiped off the map many years ago.
I'm afraid that's exactly the case. I don't have any quick solution to the problem although there won't be one without a widespread regional acceptance of the principles of limited government, property rights and the rule of law. Don't hold your breath.