My response to the London Bridge and Borough Market atrocities

As we all know, a fresh horror was visited on London over the weekend.  Evil being ingenious, there were one or two innovations, such as fake suicide belts.  But there was also much that was grimly familiar: grown men drunk on the power of violence without limit, gleefully targeting innocent Londoners for murder and mutilation.

These were men cut from the same cloth as Salman Abedi, who targeted children at a pop concert in Manchester; the same cloth as those who murdered the Yazidi and bought and sold young Yazidi women as sex slaves; the same cloth as those responsible for atrocities in Canada, America, Australia, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Russia, the Philippines and throughout the Islamic world.

In response to this latest attack, we must of course continue to care for the victims and their families, we must continue to affirm and celebrate our superb emergency services and we must continue to take a hard line with that tiny but malevolent band of cretins who imagine they are getting back at the terrorists by taking the fight to Muslim citizens who have nothing whatsoever to do with terror.

All of this is necessary, but it is not sufficient.

After this latest attack, there is a new mood.  No-one believes Islamist terrorism will be over anytime soon and no-one any longer believes that carrying on unaltered is an option.

The Prime Minister said as much in Downing Street just after the attack and she also hinted at the direction she might take.

She said there was “far too much tolerance of extremism…” and that “we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society”.

She is plainly right about that.  There has been a major failure to tackle egregious behaviours that are anathema to a modern society.  I am thinking here of segregation, grooming, honour violence, forced marriages and female genital mutilation.

She is surely right too that it is no longer sustainable for global tech giants to refuse cooperation with western intelligence agencies and to continue to publish radicalising material while posturing as champions of freedom.  Personally, I look forward to the day when they are treated as publishers like any other and must take responsibility for what is on their platforms.

And in my view, it is also time to expand Prevent.  I for one am glad that our teachers, social workers, doctors and nurses have somewhere to turn to when they see a young person showing signs of radicalisation.  And I am proud that Prevent is demonstrably voluntary, liberal, fair and accountable.

We must be far more muscular about sticking up for it against bogus criticisms from the usual suspects and their useful idiots and fellow travellers in politics and the press.

As I have said elsewhere, we must keep calm and carry on, but there must also be a tightening of the collective jaw.  We are in a long struggle.  Only if we are uncompromising when it comes to our enlightenment values, will we prevail.

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