Britain must continue to respond to terrorism with compassion and defiance

We are both more apprehensive and more united


We wake as a country this morning with a continued sense of shock, of grief and, following the news that the threat level from international terrorism is at its highest level, a sense of apprehension.

But we wake also this morning a nation more united than before the barbaric events of Monday evening, united in wanting to root out the terror and fear that will not prevail. United in our admiration for all those who have played their part in supporting the victims and their families — the taxi drivers that gave free lifts from the Manchester Arena on Monday evening, the homeless man who ran to the venue to help those injured, those who lined up to give blood yesterday morning and of course the emergency services who run to, not away from danger.

In response to the atrocities, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu told the people of Manchester:

“Let not hatred divide anybody because you are a great people. Nothing, nothing should divide you. Come together. Work together.”

In a heartfelt editorial, Rob Irvine, Editor of the Manchester Evening News has written that however dreadful events have been,  Mancunians  ‘will carry on’. He continued:

“We will make Greater Manchester an even greater place. We will care about each other and support our neighbours. The terrorists will fail. We will prevail.”

Warning against knee jerk responses to the attack, the Guardian today concludes that we must respond in such a way that enables the country to continue with its democratic traditions of accommodating dissenting voices. It today concludes:

“We should incorporate dissent and accommodate diverse voices, because we are a society that is prepared to debate and learn. In these ways we would show our way of life is a strength not a weakness. Terrorists succeed by frightening societies such as ours by changing the fundamental nature of who we are and how we operate as a democracy. Nations driven by paranoia and fear make poor decisions. Those trading in terror cannot change our way of life through their murderous acts. And we should not do it for them by losing sight of the values, such as those found in Manchester, that shape our nation.”

Picking up on the theme of not allowing terrorists to change our way of life, the Financial Times writes:

“The only fitting response to terrorism is collective resolve. We cannot forget these assaults, but neither should we let them change our way of life. Democratic societies depend on open and honest public discussion. The citizens of Britain understand that in the modern world, there are unavoidable trade-offs between freedom and security, between the right to privacy and the need to protect the nation. Politicians should not be afraid to put these hard choices before the people.”

In the Yorkshire Post the former Labour Home Secretary, David (now Lord) Blunkett noted that it is not just the bomber who is guilty following the attack in Manchester. ‘All those who suspected what he was prepared to do,’ Blunkett writes, ‘all those who encouraged or advised him, all those who had just the slightest of worries, all are culpable.’

Speaking of the inevitable lessons that will need to be learnt in the wake of atrocity, Blunkett continues:

“It may well be that the way we control entry to the external parts of our major venues will have to be reassessed. It may well be that we will have to have those with some counterterrorism knowledge at such major events, but the reality is they can’t be everywhere. We will have to be robust in avoiding accusations of political correctness, but we will also need great sensitivity.”

Striking a note of defiance he concludes:

“In the next two weeks, our democratic process must continue. Sensible rational debate must demonstrate that we the British people can take on the terrorists and through our democratic processes can deliver a better Britain and a future for all our people.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward

See also: How Europe responded to the Manchester attack

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