Iain Dale is Leading Britain's Conversation.
23 March 2017, 11:18
In his latest blog, David Mellor encourages Londoners to carry on as normal, because "the terrorists lose if they don’t divert us from our normal course".
Well, it was bound to happen, wasn’t it. And yesterday it did.
A terrible thing for those caught up in it; from a plucky policeman and his colleagues doing their duty in harm’s way, to innocent tourists wandering across a bridge, and getting mown down.
It’s so arbitrary who gets caught up in this stuff. I once was, sitting in the Cabinet Room at No10, when two IRA mortar bombs landed in the garden twenty yards away, and exploded. Why me? Why not.
My partner, The Chair of VisitEngland, was in Parliament Square 15 minutes before the incident began. It could have been her on a slab somewhere.
As I say, it’s arbitrary. In the immortal words of John Lennon, who later found out the truth of his poetic assertion; “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans”.
Which is why the snake-oil salesmen commanding the airwaves peddling all kinds of nostrums to prevent such incidents occurring again, are to be avoided.
You can’t stop a man with a knife and a hire car mounting the pavement and slamming into people. Not unless you ban traffic. Not unless you build mini Berlin Walls alongside every major road in London. Or take extreme measures filling the streets with armed police or soldiers.
That means of course that the terrorists win, because the aim of the terrorist is to change the fundamental fabric of our way of life.
Terrorism then, in my view, having lived close to terrorism for most of my political career, and survived it, is something you just have to put up with, as one of life’s risks, like rain.
Which is why I hope we’re not going to hear much more about “No Go” areas in central London, as announced by police last night.
Parliament is getting back to normal today. So should life around Westminster. The terrorists lose if they don’t divert us from our normal course.
If central London becomes a war zone for any length of time, like Beirut in the bad old days, the terrorists really do win.
Because most of those who have died, or been maimed, are tourists. The tourist industry, her indoors reminds me, is worth over £106 billion to this country, and 2.6 million jobs directly depend on it.
No point in making people think they can’t come here safely, or enjoying a normal tourist experience.
Now, what of the killer. Obviously, Arab or Asian. Plainly an ISIS supporter. No surprise that already there are police raids in Birmingham, from where his car was apparently rented, and arrests have been made.
From the point of view of those who are supposed to control immigration, and keep us safe from terrorists, the best option is if he came from abroad just for this attack.
Remember ISIS had to send an operative from Belgium in 2015 to sus out potential targets, because they didn’t have a proper organisation here.
The problem for the government, akin to those being experienced by Mrs Merkel in Germany, arise if he’s an asylum seeker, who we have allowed to wander freely around. Or someone who has been allowed to return from Syria. Especially if he was on the radar of the police or security services, as some of those involved in earlier London atrocities have been.
Maybe he’s British born. Maybe he came here and was offered, in the generous way we do, British citizenship. And having accepted the hospitality of our country, he then tries to kill us.
That has implications, not just for the authorities, but for the wider, law abiding Muslim community, who have brought so many good things to this country.
Because research seems to show that more than half of those who commit atrocities, tell family and friends about their plans, or drop sufficient hints for people to go to the police, but usually they don’t.
And how big is his support group. The police talk about a “lone wolf”, but no one ever acts entirely alone. He’s bound to have a support group, they always do.
The next few days will prove interesting, and if I was Theresa May, I’d be prying that he isn’t too obviously someone who has benefited from the appalling slackness of the Home Office on her watch.
But the best advice of all comes from Corporal Jones. “Don’t panic”.
If we panic, they’ve won.