As Mayor of London Sadiq Khan put it this week in response to the horrific Westminster attack, “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism. We stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life. We always have, and we always will.”
I was in lock down in Parliament for five hours and it was very frightening, especially as we all remember the 7/7 attacks in 2005.
What we saw in Westminster this week was an indiscriminate attack on innocent people going about their daily lives, taking no account of age, gender, sexuality, nationality or religion.
All our thoughts are with the victims of this outrage, their loved ones, families and friends.
The victims of this brutal and indiscriminate attack as innocent people walked across Westminister Bridge like millions before them included people of ten nationalities.
They include civilians and a police officer, Londoners and visitors.
Aimed at the heart of our democracy, this cowardly attack was also an attack on our freedom, and our values of justice and tolerance.
We also saw our emergency and public services at their best, acting promptly and decisively, working to keep us all safe and showing tremendous bravery. In their heroism they were joined by ordinary people who were passing by and helped the injured and traumatised.
We also salute the work of our NHS staff, including those from St Thomas’ Hospital who rushed out to help those in need.
The tragic death of PC Keith Palmer, a Metropolitan Police officer who was unarmed, reminds us all of how big a debt of gratitude we owe our police officers. He was tragically killed while performing his duties.
Our heartfelt thanks and deep gratitude go to him and to all of those who work to protect us, the police, security in parliamentary estate and all the staff.
It should never be part of anyone’s job to face violence and even murder while performing their duties, including the 2000 people who work so hard day in and day out in the parliamentary estate.
In London we have all lived with the serious threat of a terrorist attack for some time. The police and security services have foiled 13 attempted attacks over the past four years alone and the horrific attacks of July 7 2005 will never be forgotten.
It is too early now to debate the cause or motivation for this attack - until there is a full police investigation it can only be speculation. We first need evidence and analysis before attempting to draw any lessons from this incident.
There may be wild assertions about this attack by people claiming to know what the police can’t yet know, why this happened and who precisely was involved. We should reject any false or lazy assertions and wait for the police to do their work.
At this point, it’s vital as we review how to improve security at Westminster that we maintain the balance between ensuring everyone is as safe as possible and keeping parliament accessible – we do not want a parliament that is somehow cut-off from the law-abiding public.
But it is important to state now: we will not be divided, we will not be cowed. Parliament, for all its faults is the forum where the representatives of the people meet to discuss, debate and pass laws. Any attack on it is an attack on democracy itself.
This is an attack on all of us, all our people, all our communities and our institutions. It must not be allowed to divide us, to change who we are or to erode our democracy.
United together, we can always defeat those who threaten us – in contrast, demonising whole communities, as some on the far-right have sought to do, will not make us any safer in these difficult times.
By standing in unity since the attack Londoners have defied the hatred of the terrorists and those who would seek to divide us. As Jeremy Corbyn put it this week,” we are united by our humanity, by our democratic values and by that human impulse for solidarity to stand together in times of darkness and adversity.”
We will not let these horrendous attacks divide us.
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