In the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice, the BBC’s This Week has kicked off with a speech from Andrew Neil on the tragedies — and the ‘jihadi johnnies’ responsible. Last night, in the wake of the Manchester Arena terror attack which left 22 people dead, Andrew Neil adopted a different tone — as he said ‘the time for rhetoric is over’:
‘I won’t repeat a version of the remarks I made on this programme in the wake of the Paris and Westminster attacks, though I know some of you were hoping that I would.
They apply with equal force to what happened on Monday night – even more so, since that involved the deliberate slaughter of the young.
But perhaps the time for rhetoric is over, and we need to concentrate on what we’re going to do about it.
We condemn the barbarity, naturally; our hearts go out to those killed and maimed, the pointless, dreadful loss of life, of course.
We admire the stoicism of those towns and cities who’ve endured the full force of evil; we’re rightly proud of our brave and professional emergency services; we aver the terrorists will not divide us – and they won’t, because that’s what they want and they will not have it.
We know Muslims are not our enemy, and that they have as much to fear from the Islamists in our midst as the rest of us.
Despite horror upon horror, we’ve yet to have a proper national conversation on what the right long-term response should be, to root out this tiny but deadly cancer that afflicts us.
Not just the security or military responses, important as they are, but the grass-roots, community, local responses that would stop this evil flourishing in the first place or at least nip it in the bud.
The election campaign begins again tomorrow. Is it too much to ask that in the two weeks till polling day, those who would govern us do not return to the banalities that have characterised some of this election so far, and begin instead a mature debate on what is literally life and death?’
Happily, Jeremy Corbyn will have his chance to say exactly what the right long term response is, when he is interviewed by the broadcaster this evening.