I was there at Edgware Road on July 7 2005 when Mohammad Sidique Khan detonated a bomb killing Laura Webb, Colin Morley, Jennifer Nicholson, David Foulkes, Jonathan Downey and Michael Brewster, and maiming many others.
The scenes at Edgware Road were beyond description. I returned to the station for the first time this year on the 10th anniversary of these horrific attacks and spoke to station staff who were there on the day.
Ken, your comments don’t just make me extremely angry – they are a betrayal to the bravery of the station staff, the emergency services and the ordinary citizens who stepped forward on that day. I don’t think any of my fellow passengers were thinking that Tony Blair had done this. I don’t think anyone was thinking that this was understandable given we had decided to go to war in Iraq.
What I saw was people hanging together, united by their humanity – humanity you appear to have lost, Ken – regardless of their nationality or their religion. From the woman who worked for South West Trains on her way to a shift, who calmed the panicked businessman who wanted to jump out onto the live rails; to the young man who gave his iPod to two German children scared to their wits end in order to calm them down; to the people who left the carriage to go further down the train to see if they could help and assist those screaming in agony and fear.
I could go on, but I won’t. But let’s be clear exactly what Khan did say:
We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation …
‘I myself, I myself, I make dua (pray) to Allah … to raise me amongst those whom I love like the prophets, the messengers, the martyrs and today’s heroes like our beloved Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, Dr Ayman al-Zawahri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and all the other brothers and sisters that are fighting … this cause.
These people’s teachings advocated an attack on our liberal, humanitarian values long before Iraq, long before 9/11.
It’s why a week after the attacks, I decided it was important to stand with you in Trafalgar Square with Seb Coe, the chief rabbi, the general secretary of the British Muslim Council and a host of other civic leaders to say we will not be cowed.
This is what you said when responding to the attacks back then:
Those who came here to kill, last Thursday, had many goals, but one was that we should turn on each other like animals trapped in a cage, and they failed. They failed. Totally and utterly …
‘And out of this tragedy, let us redouble our efforts to build a better city for our children and our grandchildren and lift our hearts, rather than worry about who to blame or who to hate.
I could only say amen to that. I left that square with hope. It fitted with my memory of the atrocities a week earlier, and with the immediate response of those I was with.
Yesterday was not the first time you have offended me. Nor do I care too much for your position on any matter of foreign and defence policy.
What makes me angry is you have betrayed not just the memory of those of us who were there, not just the people of London, but you have betrayed yourself. Your sentiments on Question Time last night were said in anger. They were said for the purpose of political division and advantage, but this is not how to rediscover our purpose as a democratic socialist party.
This morning I read once again the back of my membership card.
To remind you it reads thus:
The Labour party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.
Every time I read this it reaffirms that I am in the right party pursuing the right cause. You, Ken, however leave me in no doubt. Your words, your actions show me you do not – no matter what your achievements. You legitimise the action of evil terrorists if you want to, but our party, our city, and our country deserves better from its official opposition.
Photo: BBC Question Time
This post is republished with permission from the author
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