My sleep was punctuated even more than usual last night because of a complete lack of ability to switch off my thoughts about the terrible events from yesterday. People on their holidays, relaxing on a beach, having the time of their lives. Then a gunman comes along, shooting and killing indiscriminately. The beach quickly becomes a killing field, mass panic ensues, people running for their lives. I got up not long after the dawn, which tells you how early it was, looking to the skies wondering what the hell is going on in our world.
The radio has been on non stop and almost every report is about Tunisia. We know for sure that five innocent British people have died but we have told that worse news is to come. Then local authorities over there say the majority of victims were British. In a heartbeat, Tunisia’s tourist industry has been destroyed for the rest of the year, possibly for the next decade, conceivably forever, given the march of ISIS. Just look at what has happened next door in Libya. This was not just mass murder, it was mass murder with a dark purpose. Destroy tourism and you destabilise the whole country. There’s method to their psychopathy.
What on earth possesses a young man to arm himself to the teeth with guns and grenades and systematically kill people whose “crime” appeared to be nothing more than being on holiday? He is dead now, but there are thousands more like him, some of whom may live up the road.
These are the sort of people the three Bradford sisters have chosen to spend the rest of their lives with, so when we hear the outpouring of sympathy towards them, remember what happened yesterday. And it is acts like these, for goodness sake, that attracts people to join ISIS. David Cameron tells us, yet again, that yesterday’s atrocity “had nothing to do with islam” because “islam is a religion of peace”. What was it to do with, then? So far as I can tell, there are no groups of secularists, atheists or agnostics setting out to cause mayhem in the name of secularism, atheism or sitting on the fence.
The first packed flight arrived in Gatwick this morning and its passengers, who survived the carnage in Sousse, cheered and clapped when they safely arrived home. It would have been good to set foot on home soil, passing the armed police officers and service personnel who routinely patrol all airports these days. And here’s something else. Home safely? How safe? Not very, according to MI5, which says that the UK’s terrorist threat level is severe, meaning that an attack is highly likely to happen. If you were thinking of coming to the UK on your holidays, wouldn’t the security service advice make you think twice?
I don’t think at first that any of us truly grasped the significance of yesterday’s attack. The media seemed to be slow in reacting, the prime minister made a short statement about the attacks, but once that was over, he then went on to explain the state of play with his EU renegotiations. Unusually, I am not going to attack Cameron for a lack of judgement. I doubt that he knew much more than we did at the time. His advisors had probably told him there had been an attack on tourists in Tunisia but little more than that would be known. As prime minister, he would have to comment and a civil servant or official would have been tasked at writing something for him to say. That is how these things work. In hindsight, it looks like an error of judgement, but here I give Cameron the benefit of the doubt. He could not possibly have known the size of the carnage. He is not a Thatcher or a Blair who instinctively knew how to turn a phrase in an instant. For all the contempt I feel for the man and his government, underneath his ugly politics exists a human being with real feelings and fallibilities. In short, he did his best yesterday. He is certainly not the bad guy in all this.
Where will it all end? I can’t see any way in which it will or can. We cannot bomb or invade our way to peace, there is no basis for peace and reconstruction. There is no halfway house, no negotiating table. The Mediterranean is near the war zone and the war zone is getting closer.
The Foreign Office advice for places like Turkey, Eygpt and Morocco is the same as it was for Tunisia, prior to yesterday. That is not to say people should stay away but the advice exists for a reason, just as our own “severe” warning is in place. This is a wonderful world, but it’s less safe than it was yesterday, and less safer still than the day before.