In the aftermath of the appalling terror attack in Central London last night, the news channels and Twitter are full of comment and condemnation. Theresa May has made a speech outside No.10. In all, it has become a depressingly familiar sequence of events in recent weeks as murderous Islamist terrorists have struck yet again.
Amid the anger and grief at yet another act of deranged Islamist barbarism, it is understandable that people are demanding action and solutions. But given the value we all place on our democracy and freedom and our determination not to give an inch to the killers and their sponsors, what can our government reasonably do?
In the aftermath of the Westminster attack, we saw footage of the shambolic security around the Prime Minister as she was allowed to wander towards her car before finally being ushered away to safety We also learned that it was only by pure good fortune that a minister’s bodyguard happened to be in the right place at the right time to stop the terrorist involved.
It now turns out that the first police officer on the scene at London Bridge to bravely confront the murderers was unarmed and thus powerless to stop them. This only serves to underline the fact that lessons still do not seem to have been learned.
Knee jerk reactions should generally be avoided, but we have seen enough to require some urgent changes to be made before any more needless damage is done.
Voice of Reason’s suggestions for action
We do not claim to have all the answers. But we would suggest that the following steps are essential.
First, the government must promise that if re-elected, it will rip up its foolish commitment to stay within the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) for the next parliament. It must promise to repeal the Human Rights Act (HRA) immediately and so remove the ECHR from applying within the UK. Unless this happens, the government will find it impossible to enact the measures required to keep us safe.
Secondly, with the ECHR and HRA out of the way, it must promise to immediately legislate to confirm that henceforth, in the case of non-UK nationals who are suspected of terrorism or who present a serious threat, that they can be immediately deported from the UK. The case law dating from 2004 which declared it unlawful to discriminate between UK and non-UK citizens must be overruled. We have no duty as a country to bend over backwards to criminals or terrorists from overseas who would abuse our hospitality and do us harm. This step is a no brainer.
Thirdly, in the case of such non-UK suspects, their deportation must not be subject to endless appeals and there should be no requirement to take their personal circumstances into account or to enquire into what may become of them if they are returned to their country of origin. Far too often, as with Abu Hamza and other cases, huge sums of public money have been wasted providing such individuals with benefits and legal aid to tie up our government in endless litigation. That madness must stop.
Fourthly, as regards UK-citizens, there must be a robust legislative system for ensuring that upon presentation of sufficient evidence to a High Court judge, they can in exceptional circumstances, be detained and subjected to effective control orders. It is totally unacceptable to place the so-called “human rights” of such individuals in priority to the need to protect our citizens from danger. Appropriate safeguards must of course be put in place to protect against wrongful detention of UK citizens and to give rights of appeal. But the priority must be the protection of innocent people in our country. The adoption of such measures has been endlessly impeded by the ECHR and the HRA. With those pernicious obstacles eliminated, the government will have no excuses for failing to do what is necessary to protect the country.
Fifthly, sentences must be increased for anyone convicted of terrorism offences. Islamist terrorism must be an aggravating factor when convicted defendants are sentenced.
Sixthly, those preaching or promoting violence against the citizens of the UK or our allies must be relentlessly prosecuted, not tolerated. There must never again be despicable scenes where hate preachers and their thugs stand on British street corners spouting hate, under the protection of police officers.
Seventhly, public authorities, including schools and universities, must have a statutory duty to promote British values and the guiding principle should be that anyone who comes to live in our country must not expect us to modify our values, behaviours or laws to fit in with their religion, their prejudices or sensitivities. There is no place for sharia law in the United Kingdom. No place for treating women as second class citizens. It goes without saying that the vast majority of muslims are law-abiding citizens. No one blames them for the evil acts of Islamist criminals. No one expects muslims, Sikhs, christians or any other religious groups to abandon their faith or beliefs. But if anyone chooses to live in the UK, then they must accept that no one is above the law. Nor can they expect special treatment. There should be no more reports of self-appointed busybodies who take it upon themselves to ban such things as union jack flags and nativity plays on the grounds that they offend minority groups.
Eighth, until such time as it is adjudged that the threat has eased, British police officers, in cities must all be armed – whether they like it or not – with handguns, and given at least basic training in their use. At the same time, the laws governing legal liability for the use of firearms by the police officers in the line of duty must be reviewed and if necessary changed so as to give the necessary confidence to police officers that they will not be unfairly prosecuted, should they have to use their guns protecting the public Similarly, there must be strict time limits for deciding whether or not to prosecute any policeman or woman who does use a firearm. Common sense must be applied here. We have to support the forces of law and order. Arming officers in this way could make the difference between losing or saving innocent lives. If we continue to leave unarmed officers to be first responders, we are putting their lives at risk and missing the chance to save the lives of others. These terrorists did not have guns. Imagine if they had.
Finally, we will have to invest more money in improving the state of our border security and our police and intelligence services. The scandalous waste of taxpayers money on excessive and wasteful overseas aid must end. The aid budget must be cut and the savings used to fund these improvements. There is no reason why the huge sums we currently send overseas should not be subject to cuts at a time when the UK is still borrowing a billion pounds a week. Immigration policy is part and parcel of improving our borders. It beggars belief that the Liberal Democrats wish to import 50,000 Syrian refugees at a time like this and that the Labour party evidently has no intention of doing anything whatsoever, to control immigration into the UK.
Words from politicians will not change anything. Nor can we revert to being a police state. Our anger towards those who have carried out the latest attack and their sick, poisonous ideology should not lead us to make the situation worse or to blame minority groups. But as the Prime Minister has said: we cannot go on as we are.
The opposition parties clearly have nothing to offer in helping to secure our country. The very idea of Diane Abbott as Home Secretary sends shudders down the spine.
But having herself been Home Secretary for many years before becoming PM, Theresa May knows better than anyone what needs to be done. She must now act.
If she is re-elected on June 8th, she knows there can be no more excuses.