Anders Breivik: There is nothing to study in the mind of Norway’s mass killer

It is certainly true that on the face of it he has much in common with some recent Islamic suicide bombers. He is disturbed by female emancipation, and thinks women would be better off in the home. He seems to be pretty down on homosexuality. Above all – and in this he strongly resembles an Islamist – he believes that his own religious leaders are deeply decadent and have deviated from orthodoxy. He is repelled, like so many Muslim terrorists, by anything that resembles the mingling of cultures.

People will say that we are looking at the mirror image, in fact, of an Islamic terrorist – a man driven by an identical but opposite ideological mania. There is certainly a symmetry here, and yet in both cases, Breivik and the Muslim bomber, I don’t think that ideology is really at the heart of the problem. Yesterday the television reporters found an acquaintance of his from Norway, a fellow called Ulav Andersson, who said that he had known Breivik pretty well. He was surprised by all the Knights of Templar stuff, because he had never really been religious, and he wasn’t aware that he had been interested in politics.

“He didn’t seem opinionated at all,” he said. He just became chippy and irritable, said Ulav Andersson, when some girl he had a crush on jilted him in favour of a man of Pakistani origin.

It wasn’t about immigration, or Eurabia, or the hadith, or the Eurocrats’ plot against the people. It wasn’t really about ideology or religion. It was all about him, and his feeling of inadequacy in relation to the female sex. The same point can be made (and has been made) about so many of the young Muslim terrorists. The fundamental reasons for their callous behaviour lie deep in their own sense of rejection and alienation. It is the ideology that gives them the ostensible cause, that potentiates the poison in their bloodstream, that gives them an excuse to dramatise the resentment that they feel in the most powerful way – and to kill.

There is an important lesson, therefore, in the case of Anders Breivik. He killed in the name of Christianity – and yet of course we don’t blame Christians or “Christendom”. Nor, by the same token, should we blame “Islam” for all acts of terror committed by young Muslim males. Sometimes there come along pathetic young men who have a sense of powerlessness and rejection, and take a terrible revenge on the world. Sometimes there are people who feel so weak that they need to kill in order to feel strong. They don’t need an ideology to behave as they do.

Michael Ryan had no ideology in Hungerford; Thomas Hamilton had no ideology in Dunblane. To try to advance any other explanation for their actions – to try to advance complicated “social” factors, or to examine the impact of multiculturalism in Scandinavia – is simply to play their self-important game. Anders Breivik may have constructed a portentous 1,500 page manifesto, but like so many others of his type he was essentially a narcissist and egomaniac who could not cope with being snubbed. We should spend less time thinking about him, and much more on the victims and their families.

The Metropolitan Police has got too big for its boots

Gone are the days when the Metropolitan Police was led by men such as Sir Edward Bradford, whose qualifications were based on his service as a distinguished military officer – which included being half-eaten by a tiger while on colonial service in India.

Modern-day Met commissioners more often resemble politicians in uniform than military men with exotic scars. Much has also changed in the nature of crime and in Scotland Yard’s responsibilities. The Victorian force founded by Robert Peel in 1829 faced few of today’s challenges of serious crime and terrorism.

In 2011, the Met must not only police the capital, it must also shoulder responsibility for all counter-terrorist operations across the UK, as well as security for visiting VIPs, personnel for major state occasions and royal protection.

Unfortunately, Scotland Yard has found it increasingly difficult to meet these diverse demands – and the phone-hacking scandal has brought the organisation to a crisis point. In the Lords this week, Lord Blair, a former commissioner, asked if the resignation of two commissioners in three years meant that there was “something gravely wrong with the political oversight” of that body. It had not occurred to him that something might have been wrong with his own judgment and performance.

But the crisis in confidence goes beyond personalities, to fundamental issues of policy. Not only has its leadership been lacking, but the Met’s very constitution is in question. Like the Home Office in 2006, the case for reform is stronger than ever.

Boris Johnson avoids David Cameron resignation question

The Mayor of London called a press conference to talk about the resignation of John Yates, the Met Police Assistant Commissioner, when he was asked whether the Prime Minister should resign over his appointment of the former editor of the News of the World.

Johnson said: "I’m not here to discuss government appointments. Those questions you must address to government.

"I don’t think there’s a very clear read across [from Sir Paul Stephenson hiring Neil Wallis to Mr Cameron hiring Andy Coulson].

"This is a matter you must address to No 10 Downing Street."

Boris Johnson defends not pursuing News of the World prosecution

The London Mayor also said he had no plans to call for the sacking of Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who yesterday expressed ''regrets'' over failures during the Scotland Yard inquiry.

There was huge media interest in Mr Johnson's private life amid claims in 2004 that the then editor of the Spectator had an affair with columnist Petronella Wyatt.

Speaking at his monthly grilling by the London Assembly, he detailed how he had discussed with police in 2006 that he may have been a victim.

He said he told detectives he would help as part of a prosecution ''if you need me'' - but understood he would not be required.

Mr Johnson added: ''Quite frankly, why on earth should I go through some court case in which it would have inevitably involved going over all the pathetic so-called revelations that the News of the World had dug up... Why should I, when the police had made it clear to me when they had abundant evidence?''

Blappp! It hurts to say it, but we owe a great debt to paintballing

He didn't even look old enough to pay the congestion charge. I have now retired to nurse my injuries in some Surrey gastropub, while the younger generation continue their happy mimesis of war.

As I wait for my lunch, I am thinking about the role of paintball in the UK economy, and the relative importance of services and manufacturing. Look at the dosh we are all pushing out this afternoon in this heaving Surrey gastropub: vast Sunday roasts washed down with knockout Chilean Cabernets. I swear: it is almost 3pm and some of them are still having their prosecco aperitifs. Where is it all coming from?

There in the car park are the sort of vehicles you would expect to see in this neck of the woods: big, burly 4x4s, their haunches and flanks gleaming in sinuous waves of metal. They come from Japan, they come from Germany, they come from France, they come from Korea. Just about the only place they don't seem to come from is the UK.

If you were a pessimist, and you were worried about our manufacturing base, and the recent defeat of Bombardier at the hands of Siemens, you might be disposed to see a terrible lesson here: other countries have paintshops; we have paintball. Other countries still make things; we pay to run around in the woods. You might think that paintball was just another low-skills service-based industry that does nothing for this country's competitiveness or exports. And you know what, I reckon you would be almost completely wrong.

Yes, of course we need to boost hi-tech manufacturing, which is one of the reasons I am pleased that all the new aircon tube trains will be made by Bombardier, and the new hop-on, hop-off bus for London will be made in Ballymena. But don't sneer at paintball, because the difference between making a car and supplying a sylvan paint- based war game is not as big as you might think.

The paintball company I have just used is called Delta Force, and it not only employs 1,000 people already, with 24 sites across the UK. It is now expanding into New Zealand and Australia. It is one of the biggest paintball firms in Europe, and according to Alex and Russell, two paintball marshals, it has just had its best year ever in the UK market. The company is hiring staff in Crawley, Edinburgh, Broxbourne and Leicester. It is looking for a supervisor to run the camp in Auckland. And these are not mickey mouse jobs: they require leadership, charisma, and the ability to marshal 300 people and teach them the safe use of a CO2 gun.

Given the savage indiscipline I have just seen, I imagine that if you can run a paintball camp, you can run just about anything. The guns themselves are made in England by a firm based in Aldershot, so that every boost to paintballing has a knock-on benefit for old-fashioned manufacturing; and I can easily imagine that there will soon be paintball apps – enabling you to tell where your enemies are on your handheld – so that there is scope for a fusion between paintballing and the digital economy.

And if paintball is simply servicing a fantasy, then so are the great big shiny cars outside the gastropub. These butch 4x4s aren't any more useful, really, than my clapped-out 16-year-old Toyota: they just allow their owners to have a certain conception of themselves, just as paintballing allows you to dream of being Rambo. The value is in the fantasy.

Paintballing, finally, is good for business. It builds esprit de corps. It helps you let off steam. It gives many thousands of young people the rush of adrenalin that is so often missing from their childhoods, and it teaches the rest of us a vital lesson: that there will come an evening or a morning or a noonday, when you least deserve or expect it, when someone will shoot you in the back.

We owe a great debt to paintballing

He didn't even look old enough to pay the congestion charge. I have now retired to nurse my injuries in some Surrey gastropub, while the younger generation continue their happy mimesis of war.

As I wait for my lunch, I am thinking about the role of paintball in the UK economy, and the relative importance of services and manufacturing. Look at the dosh we are all pushing out this afternoon in this heaving Surrey gastropub: vast Sunday roasts washed down with knockout Chilean Cabernets. I swear: it is almost 3pm and some of them are still having their prosecco aperitifs. Where is it all coming from?

There in the car park are the sort of vehicles you would expect to see in this neck of the woods: big, burly 4x4s, their haunches and flanks gleaming in sinuous waves of metal. They come from Japan, they come from Germany, they come from France, they come from Korea. Just about the only place they don't seem to come from is the UK.

If you were a pessimist, and you were worried about our manufacturing base, and the recent defeat of Bombardier at the hands of Siemens, you might be disposed to see a terrible lesson here: other countries have paintshops; we have paintball. Other countries still make things; we pay to run around in the woods. You might think that paintball was just another low-skills service-based industry that does nothing for this country's competitiveness or exports. And you know what, I reckon you would be almost completely wrong.

Yes, of course we need to boost hi-tech manufacturing, which is one of the reasons I am pleased that all the new aircon tube trains will be made by Bombardier, and the new hop-on, hop-off bus for London will be made in Ballymena. But don't sneer at paintball, because the difference between making a car and supplying a sylvan paint- based war game is not as big as you might think.

The paintball company I have just used is called Delta Force, and it not only employs 1,000 people already, with 24 sites across the UK. It is now expanding into New Zealand and Australia. It is one of the biggest paintball firms in Europe, and according to Alex and Russell, two paintball marshals, it has just had its best year ever in the UK market. The company is hiring staff in Crawley, Edinburgh, Broxbourne and Leicester. It is looking for a supervisor to run the camp in Auckland. And these are not mickey mouse jobs: they require leadership, charisma, and the ability to marshal 300 people and teach them the safe use of a CO2 gun.

Given the savage indiscipline I have just seen, I imagine that if you can run a paintball camp, you can run just about anything. The guns themselves are made in England by a firm based in Aldershot, so that every boost to paintballing has a knock-on benefit for old-fashioned manufacturing; and I can easily imagine that there will soon be paintball apps – enabling you to tell where your enemies are on your handheld – so that there is scope for a fusion between paintballing and the digital economy.

And if paintball is simply servicing a fantasy, then so are the great big shiny cars outside the gastropub. These butch 4x4s aren't any more useful, really, than my clapped-out 16-year-old Toyota: they just allow their owners to have a certain conception of themselves, just as paintballing allows you to dream of being Rambo. The value is in the fantasy.

Paintballing, finally, is good for business. It builds esprit de corps. It helps you let off steam. It gives many thousands of young people the rush of adrenalin that is so often missing from their childhoods, and it teaches the rest of us a vital lesson: that there will come an evening or a morning or a noonday, when you least deserve or expect it, when someone will shoot you in the back.

Wimbledon 2011: Game, set and tax – why Andy Murray will always get clobbered

Poor old Andy Murray. He was only a ginger whisker away. It was just a shot, they say, that barred him from the glory of the Wimbledon final. We all saw the moment in the second set when he had Nadal pinned and wriggling, with the whole of the right hand court exposed. All Andy had to do was keep his cool and thump it over with all the skill and violence we know him to possess; and then he mishit and whoof – it was like a soufflé taken too early from the oven.

The finest tennis writers in the land are still punishing their keyboards with the psychological post-mortems. All sorts of theories will continue to be produced for that sudden lassitude in the fiery Scot, the visible evaporation of the killer instinct. Some will say that it was a sort of self-fulfilling horror of becoming the next Tim Henman. Some will want to look again at the background field of causation – the systemic weakness of British tennis, perhaps, or the shortage of coaches or the 50-year decline of competitiveness in school sports. All these things may or may not be relevant to Britain’s continuing failure to produce a Wimbledon champion. But no one has so far been so vulgar as to ask the million pound question. What about the money?

I was glad to see George Osborne and Mervyn King in the crowds at Wimbledon last week – not just because they are quite right to support a great London business. They were beholding a symbolic pageant of Britain’s global competitiveness. There were 12 nations in the last 16 of Wimbledon, including some of our most important economic rivals. We had representatives from America and Latin America; we had the Russians and the newly market-driven ex-eastern bloc countries; and there was a good smattering of our historic counterparts from western Europe. Now let us imagine that each of these players had won the £1.1 million prize money and dutifully carried it home for the inspection of the local taxman in his own country. It is a stunning fact that Britain’s Andy Murray would have faced a more vicious fiscal clobbering than virtually anyone else at Wimbledon.

Spain had three players in the last 16, including Rafael Nadal. In spite of his country’s enormous budgetary problems, Rafa would have paid less than Andy – 47 per cent; and the Spanish got rid of their patrimonio, or wealth tax, two years ago. Moving down the tax rates, we come next to Australia’s Bernard Tomic, who faced a bill of 45 per cent. The three French players were going to be hit for 40 per cent tax – mais oui. We used to think of France as a much higher tax economy than our own, where people were bled white to pay for their trains to go at tres grande vitesse; now their top rate is fully 10 points lower than our own. The American Mardy Fish and the Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro were facing bills of only 35 per cent.

But it is when we come to the former communist countries that we see some really astonishingly generous incentives. In every case, an eastern European or Russian victor would have kept more than three quarters of his winnings. Guess how much income tax Novak Djokovic can expect to pay on his triumph of last night? A mere 20 per cent. No wonder he strains and trains. No wonder he fixes the ball with that implacable hawklike gaze, and chases shots that a lesser player would regard as hopeless. Then look across at the women’s game, and all those lissom Pullovas and Legovas from countries that were once beyond the Iron Curtain. What is their secret? I suppose they may retain the vestiges of commie military style training for sport. But it may not be irrelevant that their tax rates are all lower than 30 per cent.

If the Polish Lukasz Kubot had won, he would have done even better than Djokovic. He faced a bill of 19 per cent flat rate. The Czech Tomas Berdych would have got away with as little as 15 per cent. It seems that Roger Federer of Switzerland has been eligible for a piffling 13.2 per cent on his stupendous income over the years – and money is surely among the embrocations that has kept his genius so elastic for so long. But the man with the most sensationally low theoretical income tax bill was Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, who would have been asked to make a derisory contribution of 13 per cent.

Only Belgium’s Xavier Malisse would have been notionally required to pay more than Andy. But we should remember that the Belgian top rate of 53 per cent is more honoured in the breach than the observance, and that Brussels remains very handy for those splendidly discreet banks in Luxembourg; and in any event, if you add in National Insurance (as we must), then Andy would have been forced to part with even more than the Belgian. I am not for a second suggesting that money is the most important incentive for a great tennis player. No doubt there are more powerful imperatives: the lust for fame and glory and the hope of bringing honour to your country. And we must be realistic, and accept that Britain was not notably better at producing Wimbledon champions when our taxes were lower. But don’t forget that these guys are professionals.

Andre Agassi once described the numbing tedium of endlessly bashing a ball over a net. We can’t rule out the possibility, at the margin, that money will make a difference – perhaps not in the adrenalin frenzy of Wimbledon, but in the daily grind of training that is the life of a working player, and that is essential for success. I am not saying that the 50p rate is the only problem: if we were to cut taxes now, it might be best to start with VAT to get people shopping again. But we need to remember that we can’t compete endlessly with other nations that set their income taxes substantially lower than ours. They will attract jobs, and investment. They may generate more tax – and they may even persuade their tennis champs to run that extra half yard for the ball.

Boris derails Cameron’s ‘perverse’ £34billion high-speed link

Mr Johnson goes on to spell out his objections to the current plan - including "significant environmental concerns", particularly moves to send the route at ground level through Ealing and on a an elevated section at Hillingdon.

"It is perverse that a section of the route through Greater London, clearly affecting large numbers of people, has been subject to so little environmental mitigation.

"I am seeking substantial changes in design of the route to ensure these impacts are properly addressed, preferably by tunneling the whole route through London.

"Without such changes I cannot support the current proposal."

The Mayor complains that HS2 will lead a doubling of the current number of passengers arriving at Euston station every morning and that the Underground will not be able to cope.

"I wanted a commitment from the government that their proposals for HS2 would include new underground rail capacity between Euston and Victoria," he writes. "Thy do not and on this basis I cannot support the current proposal."

Mr Johnson also says the planed HS2 station at Old Oak Common in North West London will not be properly "plugged in" to the capital's infrastructure.

If ministers do not meet Mr Johnson's demands, and his objections to the project continue after negotiations, it could mean massive delays or even the scuppering of HS2, whose first phase is planned to run from London to Birmingham, with to further northern "spurs" reaching Manchester and Leeds.

Mr Johnson, who will fight Labour's Ken Livingstone in mayoral elections next year, has annoyed Mr Cameron by picking a series of fights over key issues of government policy - of which HS2 is the latest.

Mr Cameron's supporters have accused him of "political positioning" in a bid to be best place to succeed the Prime Minister as Tory leader.

The Mayor has clashed with the Prime Minister over Europe - by calling for a referendum on the Lisbon treaty - and on immigration by publicly objecting to moves to moves to put a "cap" on the number of people allowed into Britain from outside the European Union.

Mr Johnson said this was bad for business, a claim he repeated when he objected to the continuation of the current 50p top rate of income tax for higher earners. He also claimed coalition plans to curb housing benefit could lead to "Kosovo-style social cleansing" in London.

Many in the government object to Mr Johnson's call for strikes only to be legal if 50 per cent of a workforce have taken part in a ballot, while in October last year Mr Cameron declared thee government had "no plans" to build an airport in the Thames estuary area.

Most recently, the Mayor attacked plans - subsequently abandoned - by Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, to let criminals off half their sentences in return for guilty pleas.

Mr Marshall said: "The Mayor has raised serious and sensible questions about the impact on London of this eye wateringly expensive project.

"The Government's refusal to acknowledge these issues shows how fearful they are that cost will rocket still further. As the true extent of the disruption and costs becomes clear the tide of opposition is growing."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "London's economy stands to benefit from the improved connectivity and increased capacity HS2 has to offer – that's why the capital's business community strongly supports the scheme.

"While our proposals for high speed rail will obviously have an impact on those communities directly affected, we are absolutely committed to doing everything possible to mitigate this."

The £34 billion HS2 link is the government’s flagship transport infrastructure project, enthusiastically promoted by ministers as boosting the economy and helping end the north-south divide.

It is expected to cut journey times from London to Birmingham by up to 30 minutes, to Manchester by up to 45 minutes and to Leeds by up to an hour.

Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, has pledged that the government will sell the line to private investors to recoup a large part of the taxpayer’s investment in the line, which is planned to begin operating around 2025.

Campaigners, however, claim it is an expensive white elephant being planned at a time of massive Government cuts to public services.

John Redwood, the former Conservative cabinet minister, has said the line is a “luxury we cannot afford at the moment”. In addition, ministers have faced protests from those living along its proposed route, including from Tory donors.

Labour supports the scheme on principle but has called for “more clarity” on the precise costs.