Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

The Last Word: No excuses for terrorism

Taking the Stop the War coalition’s warped world view head on, keeping up the pressure on social care, and a special nine seat challenge – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

We are all Mancunians. It was true on Tuesday when we woke up to the heartbreaking news that a pop concert was the focus of a Isis-inspired suicide bomber, and it remains true now.

Seeing the names of innocent victims be announced this week and hearing the raw emotions of grieving family members brings home the magnitude of what took place. Many who looked on in horror showed a heroism in their capacity to look after their friends and neighbours, and we applaud them. We all like to think that if we saw such an atrocity we would run towards the danger and do all we can. Too often we just do not. The people of Manchester – and the wider north-west – stepped up. They did us proud.

The cold reality of this barbarism is children dead. It is vile, cowardly and inexplicable.

Anyone who tries to explain or provide a rational to what Monday’s terrorism did is wrong. To blame austerity or western foreign policy as the cause of his actions is worse still. Britain or other nations’ involvement in Middle East countries may be a recruiting agent for groups inspiring terrorism, but it is not their origin. It is important to remember that 9/11 took place before the so-called ‘war on terror’, military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or any taking of sides in the Arab Spring.

As Pat McFadden argues we must ‘reject the view that sees terrorist acts as always being a response or a reaction to what we in the west do … [and] that such an approach risks infantilising the terrorists and treating them like children, when the truth is that they are adults who are entirely responsible for what they do’.

What is worse is this logic suggests the victims in Manchester as somehow complicit. Even if being a voter made you complicit with government policy – which it does not – you would have to be 34 to have voted for MPs deciding on the ‘war on terror’. This scumbag bombed children – those who are not even allowed to vote, let alone eligible to do some in 2001.

The aim of Isis-inspired terrorism is to make people scared not change our foreign policy. We should show our unity in the face of such terrorism, not the warped world view of the Stop the War coalition.

Keep up the pressure on social care

Not only is Jeremy Corbyn wrong to make a foreign policy speech tomorrow, it is a huge tactical error. If our mantra post-terrorism is that we cannot allow the terrorists to disrupt our way of life, we should pick up where the debate was on Monday.

The Tory party’s plan for a ‘dementia tax’ is an affront to the voters, the foundations of the National Health Service and the British notion of fairness. We work together to socialise risk. Our taxes – and they might included new charges or levies – should not punish individuals, nor their family members, who have degenerative forms of illness over other fatal ailments.

This is where the debate should resume as normal politics returns. Older voters will turn out in massive numbers: critically they can decide every seat in the country. To abandon this frame is a tactical and strategic error. One the Labour leadership might go on to regret.

The hat-trick hit on pensions – means testing the winter fuel allowance, abolition of the triple lock, the dementia tax – and Theresa May’s flat-footed response is both spiteful and arrogant. They are taken victory for granted that they can punish Britain’s pensioners.

This is all further proof that this Tory government is bad enough to lose. Labour only has to be good enough to win.

Defending Labour MPs

This weekend I am touring nine seats with the ‘three seats challenge’. In each we will be helping brilliant MPs put their suburb re off to their local electorates.

Come and join me. All welcome, bring a friend, book a lift – training is provided.


Richard Angell is director of Progress. He tweets at @RichardAngell



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Richard Angell

is director of Progress


  • No doubt Jeremy Corbyn and his cronies will be ignoring the cold-blooded murder of Christians in Egypt that happened today. Funny how only certain nationalities, even in Islam, engage in terrorist acts. How can someone who referred to Hamas, a group that even the EU brands as ‘terrorist’, as ‘our friends’ dare to claim that it is all the fault of Britain’s foreign policy? The Labour Party Manifesto claims there will be instant recognition of “Palestine” if, heaven forbid, he is elected and becomes prime minister. We will go the same way as Venezuela, prepare to starve.

  • Re the instant recognition of Palestine, here are some facts from another publication:
    Palestinian Media Watch has produced a special report documenting Palestinian Authority glorification of terrorism in the month surrounding Abbas’ Washington visit.

    “…in just one month surrounding the first Trump-Abbas meeting in Washington on May 3, Abbas’ Palestinian Authority and Fatah honoured at least 44 terrorists who murdered 440 people. Those honoured and praised included suicide bombers, bomb makers, hijackers, and planners of terror attacks. Some of the worst terrorists were honoured multiple times. Abu Jihad, responsible for the murder of 125, was honoured at least 10 separate times. Dalal Mughrabi, who led the bus hijacking and murder of 37 was honoured at least 6 separate times.”

  • Not sure that this article is based on anything of substance. It is the usual progress attack on Corbyn on any reason they can find. For people then to say we are on our way to becoming Venezuela is beyond parody. Have they lost their sense of perspective?
    It seems to me that all that Corbyn is doing is saying we need to be tough on terrorism and the causes of terrorism, and that these causes should not be simplified to evil people. he quite rightly points out that the war on terror is not being won and has not stopped outrages.
    Outside the bubble of progress and the ‘Mail/Express’ this is fairly standard stuff.
    However progress has supported every attack on a Middle Eastern country -Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Lybia – with gusto and seen this as the way to bring about liberal democracy. And since the situation in each country has deteriorated it may just be time for progress to critically review its approach.

  • And all Corbyn seems to be doing is echoing the ex-Head of MI5 Elizabeth Manningham-Buller, who in her statement to the Iraq Inquiry in July 2010 said ‘Our involvement in Iraq, radicalised a few amongst a generation of young people . . ‘

  • The original article was written before his speech today. I listened to it live on the radio and to my surprise, thought it was very good on the whole.

    At no stage did he excuse terrorism and he rightly invoked that we need to be tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism.

    However, we seem to be focusing on the wrong issue. It is blindingly obvious that if western Govts drop bombs then it will increase the number of jihadists and thereby terrorist incidents here and elsewhere. The real question is whether the “western policy” is that of the greater good namely that if we do not act, more people will be killed. On this point, I do slightly differ from Jeremy Corbyn in that certain interventions may be justified on those grounds even if some citizens are killed and more jihadists recruited in the process.

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