As I See It
Defiance may be a blunt weapon to fight terror
The love conveyed by the performers who took part in the special concert for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack was a simple message of hope and determination in the face of wickedness.
Sadly, it coincided with another atrocity in London, reminding us all that the enemy within are equally determined to disrupt and destroy all that we cherish.
Those famous poster slogans that urge us to ‘keep calm and carry on’ may seem apt, but when terror strikes, kills and maims it is difficult to focus on other matters, even those as important as a general election and a campaign that has been twice disrupted by such events.
One obvious consequence is that finding solutions to this seemingly never-ending battle against a near-invisible enemy has risen to the top of every party’s list of campaign issues.
Theresa May’s robust “enough is enough” response is likely to result in more resources for the security services, increased surveillance, even better intelligence and, sadly, a restriction on the freedoms enjoyed by all of us. It may move us nearer to ending this madness, but also influence how people vote.
It should not be like this. Only on Saturday one commentator noted that immigration had not been the election issue expected. As a result of the two terror attacks it has been drawn back into the campaign mix with some taking to social media to demand, shall we simply say, firm action.
Brexit, the economy (mainly tax) and welfare have figured throughout the last few weeks, though leadership was emerging as the ace card, not least after the televised Q&A session involving Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn.
In her address on the steps of Downing Street Mrs May arguably enhanced her credentials as a tough leader, prepared to take whatever action is necessary, though her call for longer prison sentences seem irrelevant when the perpetrators do not put a high value on their own mortality.
Her call for tougher controls on the internet will have unintended consequences for innocent users of online communications without necessarily stopping someone stealing a van and driving it into passers-by.
Beyond that, she faces the same problem as everyone else: a seemingly impossible task of stopping those determined individuals who fall below the security radar and choose to strike at random targets.
Should the election go ahead? With a growing mood of anger across the country the last thing we need is for it to be influenced by fear and, even worse, xenophobia.
Yet it is also because we have no solutions, no clear choices on what to do about the problem, that we also have no choice but to go ahead with the vote.
Even so, we have to pause and think hard about how much we can defy those who aim to harm us. As Mrs May said yesterday, “things need to change” and that must also mean we cannot offer unconditional defiance.
It should also involve some concessions to integration. As with all conflicts, the resolution will require an understanding of the enemy and why he wants to harm us.