I woke up this morning to the 8am news on the radio and there was a mention of Wednesdays outrage at The Houses of Parliament. My first reaction was one of sadness. Sadness for the people who are mourning for loved ones needlessly and senselessly killed. My second thought was for the poor people injured and still in hospital. Some will have had their life changed permanantly. What for? What possible good did the deluded fool who committed this outrage think this would achieve. The news story said that "all but two of the people arrested following the outrage have been released".What can we read into this? At this stage, it is hard to read too much into this, other than it looks as if this guy wasn't part of a particulary well armed, organised or trained network of terrorists. It looks more and more likely that he's just a nutcase who flipped. In the USA, nutcases flip on a regular basis and go on shooting sprees. Luckily for us, it seems that our gun control laws have ensured that this nutcase perhaps did less damage than he might have. I don't really suppose it will be much solace to those injured and loved ones of those killed, but for the rest of us, it seems that we have a degree of safety from such episodes of insanity. In certain other countries, where you can buy automatic weapons without any checks at all, can you imagine the mayhem that someone who cares none for their own wellbeing can cause.
I don't believe that nutcases such as this man will ever succeed. I don't believe more well organised groups will either. I thought I'd list the reasons why London is so resilient to such attacks.
1. It is a sad truth that everyone living in London is rather used to it. We've had the IRA, The Angry Brigade, The Nazi homophobe who bombed The Admiral Duncan. Hitler blitzed London. As a now famous Facebook meme said "we just drink tea and carry on.
2. We are surrounded by all creeds and colours. It is far easier to spread division against people we don't know or understand. In London, we rely on people from everywhere to make our city function. We have no "fear of other" because we are all part of the same body and we all contribute.
3. We trust our police. The Met is not perfect. It makes mistakes. But Londoners trust the Police. The Met tries to be as open and transparent as any modern Police force can. Most officers aren't armed. Therefore we know that a policeman is not some sort of paramilitary thug.
4. The Authorities have decades of experience of planning for such events. When bad things happen, the emegency services are well drilled in responding as quickly and professionally as possible
5. GCHQ. The UK leads the world in electronic survelliance. Contrary to the fantasies of Donald Trump, they have better things to do than listen to him discussing whether to have sheddies or coco
pops with Melania. Dozens of terrorist plots have been disrupted and stopped in their tracks. They do real, grown up work 24 x 7, 365 days a year.
6. Art and Culture. London is a great melting pot of art and culture. Londons music scene has been influenced by the heritage of our population from all over the world. We welcome artsist, many of whom have fled repression and persecution. Their art informs us of the struggles of people all over the world. No city on the planet has more exposure to other cultures, therefore no city is more robust in its regection of ignorance.
7. Our gun laws. It is virtually impossible to get hold of guns, especially hand guns and automatic weapons. Whilst cars and kitchen knives clearly can cause mayhem, we don't see the dozens of people killed that we see in certain other countries, when lunatics lose the plot.
8. We reject extremists of all creeds and colours. Sadly, when we get events such as what happened on Wednesday, there are always people of ill intent who seek to exploit such events to further all manner of unpleasant agendas. Happily, Londoners are exceptionally savvy and spot this for what it its.
9. Mustn't grumble! Londoners have a very stoical attitude to both triumph and adversity. A Londoner wins the lotter and you ask how they're doing "mustn't grumble". A Londoner gets delayed for three hours and has to walk home in the rain from central London due to a terrorist adversity "Had better days". I was discussing the atrocity with a friend last night. The subject of the poor chap from Utah, killed on the bridge came up. My friend said "I just hope he'd had a really happy day up until then and that he didn't know too much about it". To me that was a very typically London response to a very sad event.
10. We pull together. When we are faced with adversity, we pile in and do what we can. Parliament puts the usual tribal differences aside and we look to our Prime Minister to show statesmanship. Theresa May did not disappoint. There was a small moment, as MP's trailed out, where hero Conservative MP Tobias Elwood, alone in his thoughts was approached by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn. I've no idea what exactly Corbyn said, but it was clearly meant to offer some sort of solace. That is what we do.