The House of Commons several days after a bomb has exploded on the London Underground.
JEP: “I thank you Mr Speaker and I am grateful for this opportunity to respond to the Home Secretary.
Mr Speaker, it is a wearisome task to rise once again on such an occasion as this. It is apparent that terrorism is now part and parcel of the daily business of this house just as it has become the daily concern of the country at large. To claim that such outrageous acts as have been perpetrated in recent days are to be expected and that they form part of the landscape of the life of the modern city is a statement that is both objectionable and obscene and it is the more so for all, myself included, who can remember a nation at peace with itself. It is the language of the fool and of the appeaser.
Mr Speaker, many Honourable and Right Honourable Members of this House of Commons will be acquainted with the speeches of former Ministers of the Crown and of Prime Ministers who, in times of war came to this House to inform contemporaries of their intentions. Those speeches are recorded for posterity and can be made readily available to any that might wish to read them. They are unlike the speech we have heard today. Indeed, they are unlike any of the speeches that have been made from the Front Bench opposite for many a long year. Why might that be so? The answer is a simple one; because they told the truth. The truth is sometimes ugly. Oft times it is unpalatable. Occasionally it is terrifying. Yet, it remains the truth and it must therefore be respected and considered for what it is.
It has become the norm in these latter years for Ministers and Prime Ministers to see the world through the fog of their own doctrine. When a man walks through fog he does not know because he cannot see which is the way and which is the mire. The Home Secretary has spoken for just under an hour yet I am still waiting for her to say out loud what all of us know to be the reality. Time and again she peers out from the safe window of her Ministry and she does not see what the ordinary man or women sees. Perhaps it is because the air is thin or that her Ministry is shrouded in a cloying mist. It is apparent to many of us that her vision is impeded by something; a cloud of unknowing perhaps, or what is more likely, that her perception of what is real is coloured and shaped by the doctrine which lies at the heart of her politics. The doctrine is ‘peace at any price’, otherwise known as ‘appeasement’. When, through the offices of its own government, a nation seeks to appease a hostile power beyond its borders it is an ignoble and shameful act. When it seeks to do so within its own boundaries it is cowardice.
We have heard it said time and again and from all sides of this House that we must tackle this mysterious and rather convenient thing called ‘radicalisation’. We are told that we must get to grips with the notions and beliefs that give rise to ‘radicalisation’. Might I ask the Home Secretary precisely how do you get to grips with an idea? It is not ideas that have given rise to the outrageous acts which have besmirched the peace of our society; it is people. Ideas do not float upon the air. They do not fly across borders or arrive in our ports bottled or boxed ready for distribution. They are not gently wafted across vast oceans on warm zephyrs. They are carried in the minds and hearts of living men and women. They are…. I give way.
YC: On the matter of radicalisation, will the Right Honourable Gentleman not accept that minds can be infected by information disseminated through the internet and by fake news peddled with the sole intention of arousing passions and setting community against community? Are these not ‘ideas’ and can they not have a corrosive effect?
JEP: Mr Speaker, I have heard the expression Fake News used many times in recent days. I find it strange that in the days when our freedoms were more substantial than they are today it was a phrase that was unheard of. I do believe that it used to be called a ‘different opinion’. On the question of ‘corrosive ideas’ I would remind the Right Honourable Lady that ideas are amorphous, insubstantial and as real in themselves as ectoplasm until the moment they are acted upon. It is people who give them substance. On the question of ‘community’ I notice that she uses the plural. That is interesting and I believe she is right to do so. There is no longer a single community within these islands but rather a collection of different and disparate communities, some of which have long and established roots here and others that have arrived more recently. It appears that there are some that will never settle.
I will press on.
Many, indeed most of the Honourable and Right Honourable Members of this House are too young in years to recall the days when a man could walk in comparative safety through the streets of this great city at any hour of the day or night. What you have not known you cannot fully imagine. That is why for so many the sense of outrage is dulled. They have not tasted the past and therefore are unable to fully comprehend the bitterness of the present.
Mr Speaker, a man would have to be totally blind (or unbelievably stupid) not to be able to make the connection between what has happened to our nation over these past sixty years and what is taking place on our streets today but still, it is denied, and denied most vehemently because it offends against the doctrine.
It is a most foolish enterprise for a nation to believe that it is great enough, bold enough, strong enough (and sufficiently absorbent) for it to successfully receive, welcome and embrace all who come to it regardless of where they come from or of what they might carry in the suitcase of their mind. It is a folly of immense proportions and it has consequences for all of us. It is my belief that it is driven by two things; naivete and pride.
Mr Speaker, there is another human quality that I would identify as being completely absent from the Home Secretary’s speech; humility. It is clear to me that neither she nor any of those who came before her are willing to own up or to apologise to the British people for what has been done to their country. I wonder why that might be so. I think I know why it might be so, for to admit that there is a matter to apologise for one must first accept that there is a fault. For an apology to have any relevance at all there must first be an offence. However, the doctrine teaches that to admit an offence is to admit also that all is not right and such an admission would be a fanning of the flames. Mr Speaker, the Home Secretary cannot say sorry because to do so would offend the terrorist. To say sorry would upset him, it would exacerbate the disconnection between him and us. It would make him more likely to strike out. And so, the truth becomes the enemy.
Mr Speaker, I do not expect the Home Secretary to heed my words. I would think that my words are among the most unheeded words in Britain’s long history. So be it. I shall sit quietly in the calm shade of my own vindication, until the next time, and the next, ad infinitum et ultra.”
© JWP 2017
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