Pulling Together


We wouldn’t and we didn’t

This morning on the Today programme, deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden claimed that faced with a similar situation to Israel with Hamas, “We would do the same thing in this country if it happened to us.”

I hate to disabuse him, but I must. Maybe on a smaller scale, but it has happened to us in this country and we certainly did not do the same thing in response. Where are the whole neighbourhoods in Belfast flattened by the RAF in response to the Birmingham pub bombing? Where are the heaps of bodies in Derry after the Brighton bombing in which members of the government were killed?

Like Hamas, the paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland did not live in barracks, but in the community with their parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Did we think it legitimate to kill those children in response to their parents’ crimes? Indeed, on the whole, did we respond to terrorist acts by summarily executing those suspected of carrying them out? We did not. We treated them as criminals and sought to bring them to justice.

There were exceptions, and they were highly controversial. I remember voicing my disapproval of the Gibraltar shooting when three IRA suspects were shot down mercilessly by soldiers who apparently made no attempt to arrest them after they had parked a car. The car was not itself a threat – it was simply reserving a space for another which would be brought along a few days later laden with explosives, or so intelligence suggested.

These exceptions, and the fact they caused much soul-searching and argument at the time, show just how different our public response to the IRA’s attacks on British citizens in Britain was at the time. I hope we haven’t changed, for if we did, it would be extremely detrimental to our ability as a nation to do good in a world which needs good.

No, tit-for-tat is not the way to deal with a world of conflict. That just escalates the problem. Our actions must always be aimed at ending conflict, for conflict has no winners. War is destructive. It destroys lives. It destroys property. It destroys hope, and the world cannot thrive without hope. Civilisation requires stability, and stability requires justice, and neither is served well by destabilising acts of revenge.

Sadly, nobody challenged Mr Dowden after his outrageous comment. Has our government really fallen so far in only forty years, that ministers can make such belligerent statements and get away with it? What a sad state we are now in. We need a government which understands traditional British values.

About the Author

K J Petrie has a Full Technological Certificate in Radio, TV and Electronics, an HNC in Digital Electronics and a BA(Hons) in Theological Studies.

His interests include Christian and societal unity, Diverse Diversity, and freedoms from want, from fear, of speech, and of association. He is a member of the Social Democratic Party.

The views expressed here are entirely personal and unconnected with any body to which he belongs.

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