Today, the country begins the process of coming to terms with the horrific attack in Woolwich yesterday.
We know little about those who have committed this brutal terror attack. Videos and photographs have brought the chilling savagery of the perpetrators into our homes.
As the Prime Minister said:
“The terrorists will never win because they can never beat the values we hold dear, the belief in freedom, in democracy, in free speech, in our British values, western values. They are never going to defeat those.
“That is how we will stand up to these people, whoever they are, however many there are of them, and that is how we will win.”
Sadly, Lords Reid and Carlise did not restrain themselves from attacking the Government even hours after the attack. It is wholly wrong for them tobe arguing for a change of policy before the details of what has happened in Woolwich are clear and before even the family of the victim had been notified. At this time our thoughts should be with the victim’s family and not on scoring political headlines.
Lord Reid was one of those responsible for the knee-jerk decision to try and introduce powers for people to be detained for up to 90 days without trial by the last government, after the 7/7 attack. That should be a clear warning of the dangers of rushing forward policy changes when the nation is in shock and of those who seek to use the politics of fear.
A far more measured response came from Lady Neville-Jones, speaking on Radio 4’s the Today programme. The former head of MI5 warned that the rhetoric of hate preaching, both online and in some mosques, saying “we need to redouble our efforts in tackling the spread of this kind of rhetoric.”
The current Government made clear in the Queen’s speech it will bring forward proposals to address the important issue of identifying who is using a particular internet address and they are right to do so. We face down terrorists by defending our values and traditions and acting proportionately, which is a balance current policy recognises.
When we know more it is right to calmly assess the lessons that can be learned, but now is not a time for politics.