Another day, another sickening terrorist incident, this time in our capital. I went to bed in the early hours knowing that one person had been murdered, I woke up this morning to find that six, then seven, people had lost their lives and 48 people have been injured. I was beginning to think I might somehow get immune to these vile acts of terror, but this morning I remain as shocked as ever.
The incident, which occurred at 22.08 on Saturday night, was first reported on television, radio and the internet. Buying my newspaper this morning, I was again reminded of how the printed media is in its death throes. All the papers had gone to press long before last night’s carnage and the headlines are hopelessly out of date. The Mail on Sunday, in its usual sensitive, understated way, has a front page headline of “May goes nuclear”, a story it turns out is merely about the prime minister launching a personal attack on the leader of the opposition who is doubtless “an enemy of the state”. My point is not to have a pop at this most odious piece of journalistic excrement but to illustrate the increasing irrelevance of the printed word. Already, the Sunday papers are today’s fish and chip wrapping paper. Away from the declining powers of Fleet Street, what on earth do we do next?
The answer to this is simple: we haven’t got a clue. Of course we will say that the terrorists cannot win, that we will not change the way we live because of the murderous actions of a relative few. We can call for suspects to be deported, even though many of them are likely to have been born in this country and we can, have some suggest, introduce internment, our own ‘H’ blocks as the UK once installed in Northern Ireland, perhaps our own version of Guantanamo Bay. Will all these things work, will they keep us safe from further attacks? Or will a large number of terrorists evade the forces of law and order and will more of them be inspired to carry out further attacks?
We cannot place all our hope with politicians who, by and large, do not possess greater skills and higher abilities than the man or woman on the Clapham Omnibus. I say this about all and any politicians from whatever party. That is not to say the actions of politicians are without consequences and when I hear police officers say that are already stretched too and even beyond breaking point, the cut in their numbers by some 20% is not insignificant. And if politicians vote against taking action against islamic fascists in Syria are there consequences, one way or another, into what happens at home? I’m not sure that, in the current environment, there is anything we can do to stop every single cowardly scumbag if he is determined to cause carnage.
If we do not have a clue what to do, then I have a suggestion: we need to be nicer to each other. This might not sound particularly groundbreaking or revolutionary but it is the best I can come up with. The last year has seen this country more divided than ever. The referendum on the EU split the country down the middle and still does, the coming general election has been conducted in an atmosphere of poisonous abuse and no person, no leader of compassion and vision, has stepped forward to unite us all. This, to date, does not include the prime minister, who talks repeatedly talks about “bringing the country together”, but then acts in a way that suggests the exact opposite. I could not imagine a worse time for the UK to cut itself off from the rest of Europe, so how about the prime minister seeking to unite the country around a Brexit strategy that, with a degree of compromise, all of us can accept? How about the next government separating religion from the state, outlawing all state “faith” schools, protecting religious freedom but also protecting non-believers by ensuring that no religion gets special privileges, where everyone is equal under the same law of the land? That’s two suggestions, two simple, peaceful suggestions that could represent a start.
What happened last night, what happened in Manchester, what happened previously at Westminster represented the work of lowlife cowardly losers. They will proclaim it was in the name of their God but those of all faiths should condemn unreservedly their brutal acts. I am sure they will. I hope and believe that love will one day save the day. If it doesn’t, the future is dark indeed.