Londoners should be proud of their calm, reasoned response to the Westminster attack

From politicians to the public, common sense seemed to win the day


Less than 24 hours after a lone attacker forced his way on to the parliamentary estate, stabbing and killing a police officer, the House of Commons will discuss the construction of ‘the Ratty’s Lane incinerator in Hoddesdon’.

Hoddesdon is a small town in Hertfordshire, whose 20,000 residents are vehemently opposed to an incinerator being built on their patch. This unutterably banal piece of parliamentary process somehow encapsulates London’s calm, reasoned response to yesterday’s terrible attacks.

Of course, the seriousness of this incident should not be underestimated. At least three innocent people have tragically lost their lives and the British parliament has come under attack. For MPs, Lords and parliamentary staff, already under increased strain following last year’s murder of Jo Cox, this is a massive blow.

What’s more, this incident will be (and already has been) used to stoke fear and hatred of immigrants, people of colour and Muslims — heightening the hatred and division already gripping European and American politics. It may also be used to justify further restrictions on British civil liberties.

However, the ultimate goal of many terrorist attacks is to provoke an over-reaction and, so far, the UK has — in the main — refused to over-react.

Even Theresa May, not known for her restraint in these matters, issued a calm statement, focused on the professionalism of the security services and the stoicism of ordinary people.

“Londoners — and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great city — will get up and go about their day as normal. They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives. And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”

Painful international experience has shown that this is the best response to incidents of this kind — not jumping to conclusions before the police have done their work, refraining from bellicose rhetoric and refusing to point the finger at any particular community, faith group or policy.

As Hend Amry, a well-known tweeter, put it: ‘I thought that whole keep calm and carry on thing was just to sell novelty coffee mugs and throw pillows.’ Turns out it may have filtered through.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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6 Responses to “Londoners should be proud of their calm, reasoned response to the Westminster attack”

  1. Brian

    In a poll by NOP Research in 2006, broadcast by Channel 4 on 7th August 2006:

    1. 34% of Muslims would prefer to live under Sharia Law. (945,000 extrapolated to the entire UK Muslim propulation).
    2. 28% hoped for the UK to become a fundamentalist Islamic state (756,000)
    3. 1 in 4 believe that the 7/7 attacks were justified due to the UK war on terror (675,000)
    4. 62% believe that free speech should not be protected if it offends religious groups. (1,674,000)

    In a poll conducted by ICM research in 2006:

    1. 20% felt sympathy with the 7/7 feelings and motives (540,000)

    In a poll conducted by Pew Research in 2006:

    1. 15% of Muslim believed that terrorism could ‘sometimes or often be justified’ (405,000)

    In a 2005 survey by The Daily Telegraph

    1. 6% of Mulism believed the 7/7 attacks were justified. (162,000)

    Now, instead of just deleting this post because it presents an inconvenient truth, let’s have an answer in place of your usual politically correct whitewashing of the truth.

  2. Alex from Carlisle

    Only in London could you plough through a crowd in a car and not kill a single English native.

    Yesterday I surprised myself by not caring all that much about what happened down in London. It’s another country. I only fear that the relentless Londonisation of the rest of England will result in similar things happening elsewhere, in English areas. The future is looking pretty dark.

  3. T Finnan

    In relation to Niamhs article, it is reassuring to read this as the national papers are still assaulting Ireland with photographs of the violent impact of yesterday’s attack.

  4. Kathy Fletcher

    Alex, please define ‘English native’. If you mean ‘born here’, at least one of the dead was.

  5. patrick newman

    So Brian tell us why your post is relevant when it is far from certain the terrorist was working on behalf of ISIS and/or his religion is what drove him to the act and more important do tell use what you think should be done about these statistics which I add I have not been able to verify myself (that is not saying they are false). For example would you advocate selective interment, repatriation (when many are born here and when some have parents who were born here or what e.g. creating ghettoised areas with Apartheid like controls. Dear Brian dont leave us dangling – whats your solution?

  6. patrick newman

    This was not an attack on democracy or parliament but a terror act on multinational passers-by. Running around the corner and getting through a relatively unprotected gate seemed almost like an afterthought!
    It is a pity the assailant was shot dead denying security forces of a source of intelligence and, if he was an Islamic ‘fighter’, granted him his much desired martyr status. Police should be better trained!

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