The memories of the faces of children and others photographed in happy times have moved us all especially when we hear of the futile brutality of their deaths. The shock and hopelessness gives way to facile solutions.
Beware the posturing of politicians and groups with vested interests. We have drifted into a world of division between the west and east which cannot be swiftly resolved. During my time on the Home Affairs Committee we sought solutions. The imperfect Prevent programme and court orders were welcomed and all found wanting. Blame was easy where the failures were paraded before the committee. Devout young Muslims complained that they had been bullied by the law for their religious beliefs. The 7/7 murderers were not detected and frustrated by the police or secret services in spite of abundant evidence.
Solutions are demanded. They are provided-even when they are meaningless. As a result of the murder of Jo Cox all MPs have been inundated by security advice. Expensive equipment has been installed in our dwellings. It may be thought ungrateful to point out that none of these precautions would have prevented the killing of Jo. The ‘Something must be done’ political myth rules. Even when that ‘something’ is an expensive folly.
David Blunkett expressed his regret today for sending Armoured Personnel Carriers on the streets near Heathrow in 2003 when there was a claim of a possible missile attack. The public were terrified. Sending troops in to help the police protect an empty House of Commons looks like a hollow grandstanding gesture. It also invites criticism on the run-down of police numbers.
Good judgement is blurred by emotional turmoil. When parliament returns rationality should inform policy. It is excusable for any system to miss a lone wolf terrorist operating without accomplices. That appears to be the case with the Westminster terrorist armed with knives and a vehicle. But legitimate questions must be answered in the case of a terrorist who had self-advertised his murderous intentions and terrorist connections for years. There is culpability.