jimtoggleJim O’Neill reflects on the events of last week and the bravery needed both to stand up to terrorism and to end it.

 

I had expected this week to be writing about the debate on Indyref2 in the Scottish Parliament. However, some things overwhelm all such matters and the events of last Wednesday on Westminster Bridge and at the Palace Gates constitute such a horror.

First, I would wish to send my condolences and best wishes to the victims of this maniac and to their families. Having worked in the Palace of Westminster for an MP, and later having visited the House on many occasions as a representative of the Co-operative Party, I feel I know the area very well. I have walked over Westminster Bridge too often to mention, and I have enjoyed the courtesy and vigilance of both the police and the staff in the House. It is a great sadness to see that one of them has died protecting the MPs and staff of the House, and also that others have been random victims of Khalid Masood.

However, as everyone has said, terrorism will never influence the commitment to peace and democracy of the British people, and our ability to live in a multi-cultural society happily with our neighbours. Glasgow and Scotland’s response to the attack on Glasgow Airport show where we stand. I stand with the people of London and the many tourists, who I hope will still seek to visit the Mother of Parliaments and the very historic city in which it is situated.

Terrorism can never win, because it is based on conflict and division. Many people who have been branded as terrorists have, in later life, become peacemakers. Nelson Mandela was branded a terrorist by Margaret Thatcher, but subsequently became the Father of the Rainbow Nation, known as Madiba by all creeds and colours and, by negotiation, removed peacefully the scourge of apartheid from South Africa.

As a young man, my family were committed Irish republicans with Irish relations involved in the IRA. I rejected that route because I believed from an early age that violence would never achieve a united Ireland. My violence was confined to the sporting arena where the very strict laws and attitudes of rugby allowed a level of violent contact, but all in a spirit of shared enjoyment.

Some others came to a belief that peaceful negotiations were the way to end the violence in Northern Ireland by a different route. The efforts of both John Major’s and Tony Blair’s governments to engage with the leaders of the republican movement did much to change the view of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. Eventually a way of resolving the differences was found and the partnership between Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness was something I thought I would never see in my lifetime. They were not known as the Chuckle Brothers for nothing.

This is why I was saddened at the response of some to the death of Martin McGuinness. They seemed to be blinded by his early involvement in terrorism, in some cases understandably, and could not see his central role in bringing peace to the Province. I prefer to celebrate the latter and I am sure that his place in history is assured.

So, the lesson is that we must try to engage with the leaders of the angry and violent side of Islam. Only then can we start to move towards emphasising the things that unify us rather than the things that divide us. Repression will not work. It will only alienate people further. But this takes real bravery, and the courage to be roundly abused for taking that route. If we don’t, there will be more episodes like Glasgow Airport and Westminster Bridge. I stand for peace. I am a Londoner.

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32 thoughts on “I am a Londoner

  1. Brilliant article Jim.

    I think the problem with the Islamic terrorists are complex, but it seems to boil down to whether or not they follow the Takfiri creed.
    It’s almost bizarre to talk about levels of terrorism, because as far as the victims are concerned it makes no difference, but comparing the Taliban with ISIS you see that the Taliban had a particularly brutal interpretation of the Quran, however they could be negotiated with, due to the fact that they had a geographical agenda. This gave the ‘Coalition’ something to work with and has lead to a semblance of settlement.

    The ISIS ideology however is on another planet altogether, with the uncompromising Takfir message of ‘kill the unbeliever’ resulting in their not being much wriggle room for any negotiators, to work with.

    Even as we speak, many ISIS terrorists are dying rather than surrender to an overwhelmingly stronger military force, and that tells you all you need to know about their mind-set.

      1. Although the attacks in London were used as the backdrop to Jim’s article, Mike, neither him or myself were really talking about the individual who was arrested.

        We were simply making points about how we can find common ground with people in order to stop these attacks..if possible.

        1. No you’re both using the London attack to make an issue over International terrorism when there is no link.

          How are you going to stop domestic crime by increasing measures used to prevent International terrorism?

          1. Yes Your right Mike,

            For a moment I thought I knew what I was thinking about, but all the time I was thinking about the opposite!
            You didn’t manage to stop me writing what I thought I was thinking, but now that you have told me what I was actually thinking I will be careful to write the opposite of what I think I’m thinking so that I only write what I am really thinking.

            (quick glance back to your last effort) which is making an issue over international terrorism, when there’s really not a problem in this field except in my mind…only I didn’t actually think this was in my mind until you kindly pointed it out to me.

            Glad you came along and saved me from myself, Mike!
            (I think)?

  2. I am opposed to “terrorism”, that should go without saying.
    My daughter was also working in London that day, on security related issues, so my concerns were of a personal nature.
    I have been to London many, many times, have relatives there and have personal friends there also. But the London I knew well in the 60’s and 70’s is long gone, and the human scale town-with-villages feel of the place, has been replaced by a vastly rich mega-metropolis, owned often from abroad by anonymous people and corporate entities.

    However at much the same time as this lunatic was killing total strangers in Westminster, Mosul was being bombed by “us” killing hundreds of innocent civilians and Raqqa had seen the same situation just the week before. This type of “friendly fire” atrocity now passes largely unheralded in our media, because it is far away and need not “concern” us. But that action, and our indifference to it, is the root cause of middle eastern inspired terrorism.
    Both the sectarian divide in Islam, and the military interventions over the past two centuries to draw lines on maps and loot their oil reserves, not forgetting the Balfour Declaration, have given cause to fanatics who feel the West has a debt to pay.
    Now that we can beat ISIS on the ground, a feat we could not accomplish a couple of years ago, means the “war” will be fought on the basis of terrorism. A long struggle may lie in front of us.

    1. Good points Gavin,

      Included in the list and the one thing that has probably caused most of the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq/Syria/Lebanon was the Sykes Piques Agreement between the UK and French governments in 1917.

      A false line was drawn over the Middle Eastern Map, that was designed to create as much sectarian tension as possible.

      This these governments hoped would keep the Islamic nations divided (it was successful) and stop them building a strong enough navy that could challenge these ‘sea powers’ and their dominance of all the trade routes in the Mediterranean and through the sues canal.

      The millions of deaths since (most of which we never hear about) was a price worth paying to keep the rich getting richer.

      1. I accept all these historical points but none of this justifies what happened on Westminster Bridge. Whether Khalid was influenced by IS or not, I bet he would have known nothing about the points you make

        1. Nothing justifies what happened on Westminster Bridge it was a callous heinous act of murder it certainly didn’t justify the article you wrote.

        2. Who tried to “justify what happened on Westminster Bridge”? Not me, and I find it offensive you have tried to smear me with this.
          I called him a lunatic, and I stick by that description.

  3. Except there is no actual evidence that this attack is linked to International terrorism. So far it appears to have been a heinous criminal act committed by an English born convicted criminal who clearly lost his mind if he thought he could attack the most heavily guarded building in London with a couple of knives.
    Even his manic drive across the bridge looked like he was trying to avoid traffic rather than motivated to run over pedestrians.

    We wont know for sure of course but that’s the problem isn’t it? The UK State are desperately trying to pin this on International terrorism because it will give them another excuse to erode our personal freedoms in the guise of more anti terror legislation and the media need the sensationalism an act of International terror gives to their front pages.

    But what is Jim ONeills excuse? Surely he’s not pathetic and worthless enough to try and make political stew from this deplorable event and terrible tragedy?

    You’re a Londoner right enough Jim Bob but you always were long before this terrible crime was committed.

    1. “If he thought he could attack the most heavily guarded building…..”

      Mike the guy was successful, he killed a policemen, and I believe he injured others.

      “Even his manic drive across the bridge looked like he was trying to avoid traffic rather than motivated to run over pedestrians.”

      No it wasn’t, the technique of running into pedestrians has been perfected in Israel and has been very effective in terrorising civilians. He hired a four by four (big heavy and deadly) and drove down to London (he was from Birmingham and hired the car in b/ham) and plowed into a group of children from France, at nearly eighty miles per hour (you can see it on youtube if you can stomach it)

      I’m not surprised he was a petty criminal as this jails in England is one of the most active recruiting grounds for these terrorist organisations.

      1. If his goal was to kill a Policeman then he could have achieved that without leaving Birmingham don’t you think?

        “No it wasn’t”

        How do you know?

        ” the technique of running into pedestrians has been perfected in Israel”

        Don’t be utterly moronic! How do they practice? Its like saying the art of suicide bombing is perfected through practice.

        What I saw was a vehicle going at high speed across the bridge on the pavement in a straight line I didn’t see any attempt to swerve into pedestrians that weren’t in the direct line of his driving.
        If he had attempted to swerve into pedestrians he would have crashed a lot sooner than he did.

        “I’m not surprised he was a petty criminal as this jails in England is one of the most active recruiting grounds for these terrorist organisations.”

        Get that idea from your own time in prison did you? or from the Daily Heil or Torygraph?

        No it isn’t. Religion is actually used within the overall rehabilitation programs to reform prisoners and get them away from a life of habitual crime.

        Many criminals are weaned off crime thanks to Religion. Many end up working through church groups Mosques and Synagogues reaching out to young offenders and drug users.

        1. If all he wanted to do was run people over why did he travel all the way to London to do it?

          1. Because he wanted the publicity that comes with killing a cop guarding Westminster or killing kids in a well known area of London, you brain-dead twat.

            Are you really this thick?

  4. ” the technique of running into pedestrians has been perfected in Israel”

    Don’t be utterly moronic! How do they practice? Its like saying the art of suicide bombing is perfected through practice”

    Who will break it to Mike that Palestinians are able to watch Israeli news outlets and CCTV images, so can see the effectiveness or otherwise of using a vehicle as a weapon. (they have tried dumper trucks but the’re less effective of hitting pedestrians in built up areas.
    They have also perfected the technique of using knifes rather than guns to cause harm to policemen/soldiers, because it is far easier to conceal and explain knives away than guns.

    Sheesh!

    1. “Who will break it to Mike that Palestinians are able to watch Israeli news outlets and CCTV images, so can see the effectiveness or otherwise of using a vehicle as a weapon”

      Ah Palestinians are learning terror techniques from watching Israeli traffic footage from Tel Aviv.

      “They have also perfected the technique of using knifes rather than guns to cause harm to policemen/soldiers, because it is far easier to conceal and explain knives away than guns.”

      Ah so the plan is approach a Policeman with a credible story of why your holding a knife in order to lull him into turning his back?

      Did you put much thought into your replies?

  5. “What I saw was a vehicle going at high speed across the bridge on the pavement in a straight line I didn’t see any attempt to swerve into pedestrians that weren’t in the direct line of his driving”

    I’m beginning to think Mike is really Duncan Hothersall, who has created this persona to distract people from intelligent discussion..I mean..

    A 4 x 4 car is driving along the pedestrian walkway along the bridge, how much swerving do you imagine he has to do to hit people who are walking with their backs to him and aren’t expecting a car to be hurtling towards them at high speed?

    Or put another way, how wide do you suppose the pedestrian walkways are on the bridge and how wide do you thing the car was?

    If a crowd of young people are walking on the walkway and are unaware they are about to be hit how does the driver need to swerve?
    are you unable to see the scenario in your minds eye?

    and if it was somehow a mistake, and since the bridge is straight, how close to pedestrians does the driver need to be before he sees that he is going to hit them?

    Or put another way, why did he accelerate rather than decelerate when he saw he was hurling towards a group of youngsters?

    And if this was all a big mistake as you are insinuating why did this driver get keep driving the car after he hit the kids then drive into the fence that the policeman was standing by, then get out and start stabbing him, if it wasn’t all pre-meditated?

    Mike..give up on this insanity, your making a complete fool of yourself.

    1. “A 4 x 4 car is driving along the pedestrian walkway along the bridge, how much swerving do you imagine he has to do to hit people who are walking with their backs to him and aren’t expecting a car to be hurtling towards them at high speed?”

      Ah he knew in advance that everybody walking on that bridge would have their backs to him.

      “Or put another way, how wide do you suppose the pedestrian walkways are on the bridge and how wide do you thing the car was?”

      If its wide enough to allow a car to speed down it without hitting either the side or the traffic on the road then its wide enough for somebody to get out of the way if they have the time to do so.
      A terrorist with intent would know that and factor it in.

      “If a crowd of young people are walking on the walkway and are unaware they are about to be hit how does the driver need to swerve?
      are you unable to see the scenario in your minds eye?”

      If its planned with “unawareness” factored in then he would have to KNOW in advance that everybody on the bridge would be walking in the same direction. Ya gibbering heap.

      “and if it was somehow a mistake, and since the bridge is straight, how close to pedestrians does the driver need to be before he sees that he is going to hit them?”

      Who said it was a mistake? Whos even talking in terms of definitive? I’m talking in terms of probabilities and maybes because nobody knows what was going through this guys heid at the time.
      His INTENT could have easily been to avoid traffic and allow him to build up speed to get to his destination. Perhaps he thought he could use the vehicle to plow straight through the Westminster fence? Use it as a battering ram. I don’t know you don’t know the Police don’t know.

      “Or put another way, why did he accelerate rather than decelerate when he saw he was hurling towards a group of youngsters?”

      He did neither. He plowed straight across the bridge at a constant speed and gave it no thought at all. That’s another possibility don’t you think? How do you know he accelerated?

      You’re making this shit up as you go along.

      “And if this was all a big mistake as you are insinuating why did this driver get keep driving the car after he hit the kids then drive into the fence that the policeman was standing by, then get out and start stabbing him, if it wasn’t all pre-meditated?”

      Yer gibbering! Nobody said it was a mistake nobody is insinuating it was a mistake. He had an intent an intent nobody yet has worked out or discovered except you apparently.

    2. How come he didn’t manage to hit everybody on his side of the bridge? How come the casualty numbers were relatively light in proportion to how bad it had the potential to be?

      If that was a genuine planned attack on people crossing that bridge the casualty numbers would have been far higher.

      Seem to me they were relatively light because the intent was not to hit pedestrians but to get over the bridge at speed and the driver didn’t give any consideration to pedestrians at all.

  6. “Because he wanted the publicity that comes with killing a cop guarding Westminster or killing kids in a well known area of London, you brain-dead twat.”

    Ah so if he ran over a group of kids on his way to kill a Policeman in Birmingham he wouldn’t have gained any publicity?

    I think yer arguments with regards to car killing practice classes more credible.

    1. Mike yer as thick as mince, and making a complete fool of yourself. You have sidetracked a good article and turned it in to a pile of stupidity.

      Go away, learn to think straight, then come back, and maybe I will re-engage with you, but for now it’s goodbye and goodluck with your international terrorism crusade, because I refuse to plumb to your level of daft.

      1. Oh spare me yer gibbering pish. I challenged your blatant attempt at xenophobia compounded by the utter demented stupidity of claiming Israel is responsible for broadcasting pedestrian killing classes via traffic reports to the West Bank.

  7. No matter what I would ask the public not to take it out on innocent Muslims or refugees . It had nothing to do with them. It was 1 idiot who went on a killing spree in London. He is responsible for all off the death and hurt his action caused that day no one else. Watching on tv I was struck by the bravery off ordinary people who went to the aid off the injured. They were the heroes that day not the nutjob who did it

  8. @Patrick

    “For a moment I thought I knew what I was thinking about, but all the time I was thinking about the opposite!
    You didn’t manage to stop me writing what I thought I was thinking, but now that you have told me what I was actually thinking I will be careful to write the opposite of what I think I’m thinking so that I only write what I am really thinking.
    (quick glance back to your last effort) which is making an issue over international terrorism, when there’s really not a problem in this field except in my mind…only I didn’t actually think this was in my mind until you kindly pointed it out to me.”

    Please tell me you’re not planning to drive down to London any time soon?

    1. Actually it was a reference to Je suis Charli and similar phrases indicating solidarity and empathy with those who have suffered such attacks

  9. Alan Mike I really have trouble believing what you have put in your comments. Don’t nitpick people died others were injured . A lot of very brave people went to their aid. As a people I don’t want us lashing out at innocent Muslims or Refugees it has nothing to do with them

  10. “the lesson is that we must try to engage with the leaders of the angry and violent side of Islam”
    I think the lesson is also that we should try to engage with the leaders of the US led military coalition, whose indiscriminate bombing killed over 80 innocent people in Syria this month. It is exactly this type of disgrace which fuels anti western sentiment.
    Ref: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/22/dozens-dead-in-us-led-syria-airstrike-al-mansoura

  11. Could not agree more. On Syria the last thing those poor people need is more bombing. But do not blame innocent people for London. It had nothing to do with them.

    1. Thankyou, but you misread me. I am not blaming innocent people. I am blaming the US led Military coalition for killing innocent people. This is bound to have a backlash. And that’s what we are seeing in Europe.
      Once again we are seeking to tackle the symptoms, not the cause.

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