#YEAR12PROBLEMS

Terrorism

It’s been a general election campaign we will never forget. Why? Because we have lost twenty-nine innocent people during its course due to terrorism.

Today, campaigning resumes and I am off out to see Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speak in Gateshead. It may seem like we’ve “moved on” or “forgotten”, but it must be said we have not.

Proceeding on with democracy is one of the ways in which we can fight back against terrorism in the short-term. The type of extremism that has poisoned the minds of the individuals who are behind the last three terror attacks in the last three months (Westminster, Manchester and London) is one that is against democracy and western values in general. What better way to defy their cowardice than to stand up for what we believe in and on Thursday go along to the polls to exercise our democratic right, something these vile sores of humans wish to prevent.

We saw last night the One Love Manchester concert, hosted by Ariana Grande following the bombing that killed twenty-two innocent people enjoying themselves at a concert. The freedom to have fun and let go at such an event is also something that terrorists want to prevent. Again, what better way to counter their attempt to stop us enjoying that freedom than to host a bigger, better and much more purposeful one less than two weeks later?

All of these answers are brilliant and they truly reflect the British spirit. We might sometimes be reserved and a little bit rude and we might often not wear those big hearts of ours on our sleeves. But things like this make us do so. And it is our defiant response to terrorism that, on one level, works. It is as if we, the people, are countering extremism and terrorism on our own terms. In effect, we do all that we can do.

However, while we exhaust our civil liberties in the face of terrorism and extremism, defying the fear that we do undoubtedly feel, it is not enough.

In no way does this demean or undermine the efforts of Ariana Grande, the people of Manchester and London, the police or ambulance services – who are all fantastic, by the way, and their praises cannot be sung enough – it simply acknowledges that we’re pulling our weight, but what about everyone else?

Extremism is undoubtedly something that has to be countered in many ways. Just like we have started to combat cancer by using many lasers to combat the tumour and kill those cells rather than the good ones, we need to be taking the same approach with extremism and terrorism.

Theresa May is right when she says “enough is enough” but there’s a clear warrant to ask what she’s been doing for six years in government.

The answer to that, unfortunately and undeniably, is cutting police numbers. The link with this and terrorism may not seem obvious, mainly because we have not seen the vital work police officers do to counter radicalism before it becomes an attack or even extremism due to cuts.

It can be said that if it weren’t for those cuts, as May was warned by police would place the public at greater risk, we wouldn’t be facing this type of threat.

Local police officers are vital in combatting extremism because they nip it in the bud. They catch it before it’s too late. This is one of the ways the government – whoever wins on Thursday – has to combat extremism: putting the money back in.

Another way we have to combat it is a short-term solution (one that should, admittedly, be thought out much better and by much more qualified people than me of course). That solution is a contrast to government policy.

It seems obvious and right that with 3,000 known or suspected terrorists on a watchlist, something should be done.

It’s easy for some to say “kill them all” or “deport them all”, but deep down we know we can’t do that.

Deportation, though, is a viable option. But not for all terrorists.

Those who have clear links with terrorism and were not born in this country should be deported. They should be put through the judicial process and kicked out. It’s not extreme to say that. It defies logic to allow them to stay here if they pose a proven threat to us.

By doing this, we free up security services as they’re no longer monitoring direct threats from foreign terrorists and can focus on other suspects. They can gain further evidence and a build case against them, including homegrown terrorists and prevent more attacks.

Homegrown terrorism is another issue entirely and we should look at how to prevent it from happening by examining how we deal with integration and difference. By no means is it our fault (as the fault of terror always and ultimately categorically lies with the perpetrators), but we do need to understand why these people turn to such sickening and downright disgusting actions.

We need everyone to be thinking critically and analytically, to challenge and to talk to those whose views we oppose. This also includes reporting extremism which did happen in the case of the Manchester bomber. He was reported five times.

We need all of this coming from the ground up – from all of us, regardless of our faith – to meet in the middle with a government response to terrorism.

Hopefully, we’ll meet in the moderate middle and we become united as a whole country against terrorism and extremism.

Enough is enough, but in this case, actions really do speak louder than words.