Our countryside has been magnificent this week. The hawthorn blossom has turned hedgerows virginal white and the billowing mounds of that most elegant of wild flowers, cow parsley (anthriscus sylvestris), make our roadsides a joy to drive on.
The scent of both over-ride the sickly pong of the greenish/brown liquid being spewed out on fields all over the countryside while birds keep up their manic singing, pleased no doubt to be filling nests with new life.
It’s has been a truly wonderful week for nature but into the midst of such beauty came evil of the type we have had to contend with for decades. Our victims will have felt the pain all over again. In this part of the United Kingdom we know what it’s like to suffer and when we say we feel Manchester’s pain, we really mean it.
Prime Minister Theresa May gallantly warned on Tuesday that terrorists will “never win”. Yet why do I feel that terrorists of the type that struck in Manchester have nothing really to fear from bombing the United Kingdom?
Every British Prime Minister, from the first bombs here in the 70s, has said the terrorists will never win but they did and do win. And not only that, they get ‘comfort letters’ to ensure they won’t have to face a court, they can live across the border assured they won’t be extradited and of course they can reach the political heights, such as becoming Deputy First Minister, meeting the Queen and get a top seat at the White House on St Patrick’s Day.
So, in my books, terrorists have little to lose and much to gain from their barbaric activities.
In the trauma of this week I found little to change my mind about that, especially when I read an article by leading Manchester Muslim Haras Rafiq, chief executive of Quilliam, a Counter-Extremism Organisation. He wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “Though Isil is inching towards its territorial death in Syria and Iraq, we must not delude ourselves that this phenomenon is on the way out. The global jihadist insurgency is thriving: Islamist extremism remains the single biggest threat we face.”
He describes ‘this foreign, suicide terrorism’ as ‘so volatile it is no longer based on a perceived physical or political threat, but is purely based on a hyper-ideological struggle’. He suggests that our political parties need to take this threat ‘more seriously’ and points out that ‘barely 30 words appear on counter-terror in the three major parties’ manifestos’ despite us facing the biggest threat to our way of life.
British politicians may have fondly imagined that by effectively pardoning the terrorists in their own midst – the IRA – they would go away and by making fanciful promises – think of the deal Tony Blair cooked up with Gerry Adams on the Irish Language Act when they were drawing up the last agreement – that everyone could sit down together and go on as before. But British mainland politicians have shown, time after time, through history, that they run away from trouble rather than deal with it constructively.
Every time we see a picture of the leader of Sinn Fein in the north, Michelle O’Neill, looking over her right shoulder is the grim- faced Gerry Adams who doesn’t even have a local political seat and who won’t sit in the one he has at Westminister, to remind us that this is the person who is most likely still calling the shots here. He’s the one who had the ear of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, and who claims he was never in the IRA. Ms O’Neill could, just possibly, be a very good politician and leader in the future but not while she hangs on to all this ageing, republican baggage.
When Theresa May became Tory leader I felt hopeful she would be different. So I’m hoping she is absolutely serious that terrorists ‘will never win’. After Manchester it cannot be any other way.