The Last Word: No excuses for terrorism

34050241733_8a26b98ca6_z-1Taking the Stop the War coalition’s warped world view head on, keeping up the pressure on social care, and a special nine seat challenge – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

We are all Mancunians. It was true on Tuesday when we woke up to the heartbreaking news that a pop concert was the focus of a Isis-inspired suicide bomber, and it remains true now.

Seeing the names of innocent victims be announced this week and hearing the raw emotions of grieving family members brings home the magnitude of what took place. Many who looked on in horror showed a heroism in their capacity to look after their friends and neighbours, and we applaud them. We all like to think that if we saw such an atrocity we would run towards the danger and do all we can. Too often we just do not. The people of Manchester – and the wider north-west – stepped up. They did us proud.

The cold reality of this barbarism is children dead. It is vile, cowardly and inexplicable.

Anyone who tries to explain or provide a rational to what Monday’s terrorism did is wrong. To blame austerity or western foreign policy as the cause of his actions is worse still. Britain or other nations’ involvement in Middle East countries may be a recruiting agent for groups inspiring terrorism, but it is not their origin. It is important to remember that 9/11 took place before the so-called ‘war on terror’, military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or any taking of sides in the Arab Spring.

As Pat McFadden argues we must ‘reject the view that sees terrorist acts as always being a response or a reaction to what we in the west do … [and] that such an approach risks infantilising the terrorists and treating them like children, when the truth is that they are adults who are entirely responsible for what they do’.

What is worse is this logic suggests the victims in Manchester as somehow complicit. Even if being a voter made you complicit with government policy – which it does not – you would have to be 34 to have voted for MPs deciding on the ‘war on terror’. This scumbag bombed children – those who are not even allowed to vote, let alone eligible to do some in 2001.

The aim of Isis-inspired terrorism is to make people scared not change our foreign policy. We should show our unity in the face of such terrorism, not the warped world view of the Stop the War coalition.

Keep up the pressure on social care

Not only is Jeremy Corbyn wrong to make a foreign policy speech tomorrow, it is a huge tactical error. If our mantra post-terrorism is that we cannot allow the terrorists to disrupt our way of life, we should pick up where the debate was on Monday.

The Tory party’s plan for a ‘dementia tax’ is an affront to the voters, the foundations of the National Health Service and the British notion of fairness. We work together to socialise risk. Our taxes – and they might included new charges or levies – should not punish individuals, nor their family members, who have degenerative forms of illness over other fatal ailments.

This is where the debate should resume as normal politics returns. Older voters will turn out in massive numbers: critically they can decide every seat in the country. To abandon this frame is a tactical and strategic error. One the Labour leadership might go on to regret.

The hat-trick hit on pensions – means testing the winter fuel allowance, abolition of the triple lock, the dementia tax – and Theresa May’s flat-footed response is both spiteful and arrogant. They are taken victory for granted that they can punish Britain’s pensioners.

This is all further proof that this Tory government is bad enough to lose. Labour only has to be good enough to win.

Defending Labour MPs

This weekend I am touring nine seats with the ‘three seats challenge’. In each we will be helping brilliant MPs put their suburb re off to their local electorates.

Come and join me. All welcome, bring a friend, book a lift – training is provided.

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Richard Angell is director of Progress. He tweets at @RichardAngell

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