Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 7 July 2005

Prime Minister vows to 'maintain our way of life'

Tony Blair read a short statement from Gleneagles, prior to his departure for London, vowing our determination not to allow today's terrorist outrages in the UK to change our way of life:

"It is important that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world," he said.

"Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world."

- and quite right, too! This country has gone through some pretty difficult periods in its history and it is perfectly clear that whatever else happens our resolve must not weaken - we must maintain our democracy and relatively open way of life.

Sensible measures need to be taken to minimise, so far as is possible, the likelihood of a repetition of this kind of incident, but this must not be allowed to develop into a justification for curtailing our traditional liberties in this country - I am thinking specifically of the government's plans to introduce ID Cards and recent legislation forbidding the right of assembly (and, effectively, the curtailment of free speech) in and around Westminster. I do not feel it is in any way insensitive to bring up such matters at this difficult time. It is just at such a time that clear thinking is essential - part of our traditional way of life is that we have tolerated ID Cards, for example, only in times of the very gravest national emergency (during the Second World War) and we got rid of them pretty quickly after this emergency ended. Part of our traditional freedoms is the right to peaceful assembly, the right to peaceful protest and a relative closeness to those whom we elect to rule over us - some of these freedoms have already been curtailed as a result of legislation rammed through Parliament by this present Government. As I have said before, and I make no apology for repeating it now:
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance
(attributed to Thomas Jefferson)

but against this must be set another wise saying, that we all need to remember at this present time:
The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes
(attributed to Thomas Paine)

- in other words, we must not allow ourselves to destroy our democracy whilst endeavouring to protect it. The beliefs that motivate those who carry out such terrosist incidents as we have seen in the UK today are not 'noble' in any degree whatsoever - they are wicked people who have no respect for the value of human life; we must continue to show ourselves to be much better than them by our determination to maintain our civilised, but firm, standards - this is not weakness, but instead a show of our confidence in ourselves and what we stand for.

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