The language and tone of our elected leaders and public agencies in their desire to protect the sanctity of our society is at risk of destroying it from within. It is understandable that David Cameron would have strong views about those that oppose his opinion and risk-taking commitment to support France and the USA in their bombing of Raqqa and other ISIS targets. However to speak about those who vote against his call to arms in this way ““You should not be walking through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers” suggests that the core of the society is melting down. It is true that some of these MPs have historically expressed support for the ANC or IRA, but by the same token David Cameron historically supported apartheid and those seeking to silence Nelson Mandela, in some cases supporting his death. It is time to recognise that name calling and these opinions have no place in the Palace of Westminster, and that leaders of Political Parties speaking in meetings of MPs who they ‘lead’ must show leadership. The same is true of those people opposed to the war in Syria such as campaigners in Hove who having spent hours outside the empty office of their MP, and have now turned their attention to his home. This is demonstration of having failed to identify the line of what is appropriate as they sprint past it
Another disturbing report comes from the Camden Childrens Safeguarding Board which has produced a leaflet with guidance for parents to identify if their children are becoming radicalised. There is no doubt some words of great wisdom in the leaflet and perhaps it is wrong to take words and phrases out of context. However it is just as wrong to include the suggestion that conventional behaviour could be part of the signs of radicalisation. This leaflet refers to young people “appearing angry about government policies, especially foreign policies” is a sign “specific to radicalisation”. Parents and carers have also been advised that “showing a mistrust of mainstream media reports and a belief in conspiracy theories” could be a sign that children are being groomed by extremists. On that basis how will parents be helped to spot the needle of hatred in a haystack of normal everyday views?
It appears that tonight our Government will get its way and airstrikes will be launched in the next day or so. In reality although the British Bombs will not kill any more people than the US or French Bombs would, but there has been no explanation given for how our bombs and missiles will be directed ‘exclusively at ISIL’ when we have no reliable eyes on the ground and our missiles and bombs are not as accurate as we are being told. As Andrew Neil pointed out yesterday, some of the planes we will be flying only carry 500lb bombs, a weapon that could not be described as having precision. It is nearly a decade since George Bush declared that the war in Iraq is over. Yet we continue to send our war planes over their airspace in support of their Government. If public support for bombing in Syria has dropped from 59% to 48% in one week, it seems unlikely that it will increase in the next week, and certainly not in the next decade. As someone who opposes the bombing (along with 52% of the population) being named as a terrorist sympathiser does not improve my view of this Government.