I've had enough. I awoke today at 7am. By 7.23am I'd heard two apologias for suicide bombing. I wake to the BBC's Today programme, you see. A nice woman presenter politely thanked both apologists very much for their time.
I turned off and turned on my PC. At the BBC website I find the Tory Party Vice-Chair Sayeeda Warsi saying, 'Mr Blair should negotiate with the terrorists. We need to bring these groups into the fold of the democratic process. As long as we exclude them and don't hear them out, we will allow them to continue their hate.' I reflect that I last heard this from Tony Benn – the hero of my youth whom I now think a dangerous political idiot - speaking on BBC's Newsnight on the evening of 7/7 (and before that from Mo Mowlam about Bin Laden). I then notice the BBC has a story about 'Muslim reactions to 7/7'. First voice up, top of the screen, is Dr Imran Waheed, the media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Britain), who says, 'What is required is for the whole society to accept responsibility for 7/7'. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a racist anti-Semitic organisation that supports suicide bombings.
And then I think about who has been bothered enough since 7/7 to get around the TV studios and comments pages, doing the appeasement shuffle (Clare Short, George Galloway, Tony Benn, Seamus Milne, and the rest). I reflect about why I am doing interviews with local radio stations that amount to a sliver of the audiences these appeasers reach by moving from one room to another at Broadcasting House.
And then I thought about poor Tony Blair. Please read the speech he gave on July 16 (go here and scroll down the sidebar, or go to the New York Times). Have you read it? Please do if you have not. OK.
Now, with words that will lose me my last remaining friends, I guess, let me say this. I agree with every word of Blair's speech. It's a bloody marvellous speech. Just what needed to be said. I could hardly say much else, could I? The speech (July 16) is strikingly similar to the online statement Unite Against Terror (July 15) which was written, in the main, by myself and Harry of Harry's Place.
Tony Blair says this:
This ideology and the violence that is inherent in it did not start a few years ago in response to a particular policy. Over the past 12 years, Al Qaeda and its associates have attacked 26 countries, killed thousands of people, many of them Muslims.And Unite Against Terror said this:
We remember the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 and in Madrid on March 11, 2004. But we know that al Qaeda and groups that are inspired by Bin-Ladenism have carried out atrocities in France, Pakistan, Israel, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Iraq, Morocco, Yemen, Tunisia, Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, North Osetia and many other countries. The vast majority of the victims of al Qaeda's violence have been Muslims. Those who have suffered at the hands of violent Islamic Fundamentalist movements in Iran and Algeria have also been ordinary Muslims.Tony Blair says this:
We must be clear about how we win this struggle. We should take what security measures we can. But let us not kid ourselves. In the end, it is by the power of argument, debate, true religious faith and true legitimate politics that we will defeat this threat. That means not just arguing against their terrorism but their politics and their perversion of religious faith. It means exposing as the rubbish it is, the propaganda about America and its allies wanting to punish Muslims or eradicate Islam. It means championing our values of freedom, tolerance and respect for others. It means explaining why the suppression of women and the disdain for democracy are wrong. The idea that elected Governments are the preserve of those of any other faith or culture is insulting and wrong. Muslims believe in democracy just as much as any other faith and given the chance, show it.And Unite Against Terror said this:
These terrorists do not hate what is worst in the societies they attack, but what is best. They despise individual liberty, critical thought, gender equality, religious tolerance, the rights of minorities and political pluralism. They do not criticize democracy because it sometimes fails to live up to its principles; they oppose those principles... We believe that democracy and human rights are worth defending with all our strength. The human values of respect and tolerance and dignity are not 'western' but universal.Tony Blair says this:
If it is the plight of the Palestinians that drives them, why, every time it looks as if Israel and Palestine are making progress, does the same ideology perpetrate an outrage that turns hope back into despair?And Unite Against Terror said this:
In areas of conflict, the terrorists have damaged attempts at peaceful and political solutions to problems. They choose killing and reject mutual recognition, accommodation, negotiation, understanding, and compromise... The road to a just solution in Israel-Palestine is signposted by 'mutual recognition' and 'political dialogue' not the blind alley of terrorism.Tony Blair says this:
Their cause is not founded on an injustice. It is founded on a belief, one whose fanaticism is such it can't be moderated. It can't be remedied. It has to be stood up to. And, of course, they will use any issue that is a matter of dissent within our democracy. But we should lay bare the almost-devilish logic behind such manipulation.And Unite Against Terror said this:
This terrorist violence is not a response by 'Muslims' to the injustices perpetrated upon them by 'the west'. Western democracies have been responsible for some of the ills of this world but not for the terrorist murders of these deluded Bin-Ladenists.And so on.
Don't get us wrong, we are very happy to be unpaid speech-writers. We put this statement up just so people would read it and use it. The bigger the megaphone the reader has the better. Tony Blair's speech was important, powerful and clear-sighted. It was a call to arms for democrats faced with a totalitarian threat. Our questions are these:
> Where are the Labour MPs?Here is my suggestion: we start talking about creating a well-funded think-tank/foundation - UK-based but global in ambition, participation and intent - with the ability to take the political persuasion and community we have been creating online to a new level. Time to get serious.
> Why has not one Labour MP signed Unite Against Terror?
> Why is it signers of Unite Against Terror, like Brian Brivati, carrying the argument in the Guardian?
> Why is Alan Johnson carrying the argument in Tribune?
> Why are Labour Friends of Iraq struggling on a shoestring and voluntary labour?
> Are any Labour MPs making speeches even in the same ball park as Tony Blair? Are there any who speak with his kind of political understanding and passion about the threat and about democratic values?
> Why are bloggers and activists doing the heavy lifting?
> Why, when asked on the Today Programme about the battle of ideas, does Charles Clarke start talking about his hopes that the faith communities will take this onboard quite as if he wants to sub-contract politics to someone else and quite as if he forgot he has a Labour Party that exists in every constituency?
> Why is John Reid the only one (or one of the very few) who can think on his feet and fight back politically in an interview with these puffed up, unelected, wannabe politicians they have at the BBC?
> Why are so many Labour MPs bottling it?
> Why isn't Blair's speech on the Labour Party website?
> It's been 6 years since Tony Blair's Chicago speech. In the intervening years have there been more than two or three speeches by other Labour politicians developing the idea of the 'doctrine of international community' that Blair set out that night? Why not? What's going on?
> Why do the Liberal Democrats have a magazine in W.H. Smith, but the Labour Party does not?
> Why has the Labour Party stopped doing politics? If it's because the party goes to sleep in government, well, listen up... It's. Not. The. Normal. One. Term. Deal. Loosen up. Speak out, give interviews, write columns, organise vigils. Wake Up!
> And a question to the community of bloggers that cluster around HP / Engage / normblog / Labour Friends of Iraq and many others. Given the stakes, and given it's likely the Party will not even understand what I am on about, what should we do about it?
I'll even offer a name: The Democracy Foundation. (Alan Johnson)