Monday, 5 June 2017

Enough is Enough?

As the story emerges about what happened on Saturday night in a corner of London I know well and love, we will likely learn of mistakes made as well as tales of heroism, professionalism and luck. It's hard to see, at this point, how the police operation could have gone any better. The Westminster attack in March exposed some flaws in the security operation around Parliament of all places, which could have enabled the attacker to get much further on to the estate and cause more deaths or serious injuries. Only the presence of ministerial bodyguards meant that the terrorist was shot so early. Yet on Saturday night the police response was exemplary and not one but three terrorists were shot dead as quickly as could reasonably be expected. The public reacted with intelligence, stoicism and defiance. An attack that has been prepared for and drilled for was repelled with, under the circumstances, comparatively few casualties. It could have been a lot worse.

It may well emerge that the security services had been warned of at least one of the terrorists by concerned neighbours. That certainly seems to be the case. But they are in an impossible position. Ultimately it is a matter of judgement. The Prime Minister revealed yesterday that they have detected and prevented five more attacks just since March.

But therein lies the problem. We seem to be at war, or at least we seem to be under attack by people who hate us. We cannot engage in a war because the enemy will not reveal themselves. They often give the game away but not always. This may well turn out to have been a copycat attack by more hopeless inadequates who imagine that they are avenging something, when in reality they are just in the grip of a manic sense of self righteousness allied to anger at a world that has disappointed them in some way. Sex or the lack of it is probably involved somewhere along the way.

Theresa May is right that enough is enough. It is time to get tough. It is time to reconsider control orders to ensure that the police and security services do not have to devote such huge resources to these losers on the off chance that they decide to drive a van at us. It is time to get tough on the preachers of hate. It is time to cast aside the liberal objections to various measures that may well be an invasion of privacy or of our human rights but which are preferable to people being mown down on bridges or stabbed for being in a restaurant or a bar. It is time to talk honestly to mosques and require them to stop hate speech or face being forcibly closed down. It is time to outlaw Sharia courts. There is one law in this country to which we are all subject. Communities closing themselves off from the rest of us is unacceptable.

Oh and it is time to talk of Islamophobia, a fascist word intended to close down free speech. Being Islamophobic does not make one racist or anti Muslim. As an atheist it is my right to be phobic of any belief or creed that encourages people to think themselves different or better than me. For too many followers of Islam that is true. It is generally not true of the other major religions. Ultimately, as I have said many many times before, people choose what they want to believe and whether their god wants them to commit murder. But Islam is part of the problem because it preaches exceptionalism and has been allowed to do so in the name of community cohesion. It has achieved the opposite of cohesion.

Getting the balance right in our response to this is, as ever, the difficult part. But these attacks should have concentrated minds. The Manchester and latest London attacks will have pushed public opinion to the point now where tough measures will not just be tolerated but demanded.

One thing is for certain, such measures will not be advanced by Chauncey's Labour Party who would blithely wave in the newly forming queues in Calais. The man who says he wanted to talk peace with the IRA but never did so with loyalists is not a man who will know how to deal with terrorists who don't really know what they want other than subjugation to their vile creed. A couple of weeks ago Chauncey informed us that little girls were slaughtered and maimed at a pop concert because of our foreign policy. Like so many of his beliefs he will not be shaken out of this one. Now he is claiming it is about resources. It isn't. The police response was superb. Foot patrols would not have prevented this. You cannot stop someone driving a car or van at people other than with guns on every street. It is yet another reason why Chauncey is unfit to be Prime Minister at the end of this week.

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