Paul Nuttall and UKIP are right. Whilst we mourn the loss of over twenty innocent men, women and children, the democratic process must continue. Political parties must go out and put their arguments to the people – it is the core value of the west and one that separates us from the islamist scum bags that hold our values in contempt.
It goes without saying that the attack was barbaric, but the idea of suspending democracy because of enemies of democracy and freedom of expression is letting them win.
The location of the attack could have been almost any night at the Manchester arena, but the timing couldn’t. Everything about their attacks is about symbolism. From attacking the French on Bastille Day to mowing down tourists on Westminster bridge, they attacked us in the middle of one of the world’s greatest exercises of democracy. Do we really want to give them the slightest bit of satisfaction?
Our counter-terrorism measures broadly work – they have prevented tens of plots over the past seven years and the British intelligence agencies are the envy of Europe. But there has clearly been serious failings.
The fact that the bomber was known to the intelligence services should be concerning – why did they let him fly to Libya? When he came back what was the conclusion of the risk assessment? If he had training in Syria, how have the government missed this?
If this transpires to be a Manchester terror network, how many more are based outside the capital? As focus turned onto securing London, our capital has become a citadel with the peripheries exposed. Whilst it’s understandable why the government want to protect London, seen as capital of the world to many, how can they allow a soft underbelly to develop and put people at risk? Likewise, how long can the government continue cutting police numbers when they are the front line for domestic intelligence gathering?
Another point that has to be made is the leaking of British intelligence via the United States. Whilst naming the terrorist isn’t necessarily compromising to the operation, it is concerning that the American tradition of leaks from their intelligence contractors continue. As more evidence trickles out, it is either American incompetence or somebody inside wanting to undermine their president with no care for the security of their closest ally.
Demanding access and backdoors into encrypted messaging is pointless as this will just move terrorists on further underground and leave our online communications, banking and shopping more vulnerable to cyber attack, but we need to be concerned about social networking.
Companies like Facebook and Twitter have become publishers yet attempt to avoid all responsibility that publishers have. This needs to change. It’s too easy online to find extremist, wrong and sickening content yet they escape all regulation and proper scrutiny because they claim they are ‘tech companies’. It is time social networks end the filter bubbles and stop putting their billions in profit ahead of the right thing to do.
If we cower to the Islamic State, begin to give away our civil liberties out of fear of the Islamic State, and halt everything we hold dear because of the Islamic State, the Islamic State will win.
We can’t let them win – that’s why tomorrow, even though it might be difficult, we have to continue as normal. We learn the lessons, yes, but we continue.