PM talks bluntly about extremism and terror

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

David Cameron’s Conservative conference speech on Wednesday took place in as comfortable a context as a party leader could possibly envisage.

The prime minister’s party won an unforeseen overall majority at the general election in May, astounding not only pollsters but the party hierarchy itself.

The principal opposition, the Labour Party, has since imploded with its selection of the hard left winger, Jeremy Corbyn.

It was heartening to see Mr Cameron take advantage of his electoral fortune by firmly stating some home truths.

He criticised Mr Corbyn’s “terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology”, a description that will be music to the ears of law abiding people across Northern Ireland who remember such mis-judgments as Mr Corbyn standing in silence for IRA terrorist thugs killed by the SAS as they attacked what they thought was a defenceless police station at Loughgall.

Mr Cameron also had important and blunt things to say about Muslims who instil hatred in pupils in schools: “If you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down.”

People across the UK will have been cheering as the Tory leader dismissed the nonsense narrative “that says that Muslims are persecuted and the West deserves what it gets”.

And given that Conservatives are often linked to inequality, it was important to hear Mr Cameron talk about tackling the UK’s low social mobility (something that will worsen in Northern Ireland if John O’Dowd shuts grammar schools).

The prime minister rightly explained that further cuts will be needed if Britain is ever to eliminate its huge deficit. He restated his bid to win better terms for Britain from the EU, although securing meaningful concessions will be a struggle and failure could be the end of his premiership.

But of all the themes in David Cameron’s speech on Wednesday, housing is the most pressing. His planned 200,000 so-called starter homes will still be expensive, at up to £450,000 in London. The UK urgently needs to build high density housing, preferably with most sited on brownfield sites.