Sitting watching the horrific attacks in Paris on a TV screen in central London I cried. Real tears. Tears of sadness and of anger.
I was lucky. I went to bed. I woke up. We now know that over 120 people weren’t as lucky.
Families, friends and loved ones – lives changed forever.
People attending a football match. People attending a rock concert. People living an ordinary life. People simply going about their business were slaughtered. Whatever your religious or political beliefs this is cold blooded, brutal murder and has to be condemned. Right?
Like many others I took to social media. I did a simple thing, something that many others did. I changed my facebook profile picture to show support. Not a brave thing to do. Not a dangerous thing to do. But it was something that I was able to do. I had friends on holiday in France and I have friends living in Paris. By changing my profile picture I hoped that in some small way they would know they weren’t alone. If they logged onto Facebook I hoped that they would see that I and others were thinking of them.
Then the usual things happened. People shared stories. People posted that they were safe. It was feel good stuff in a time of devastation. It wasn’t much but I think it does more good than harm and in such difficult times even tiny gestures matter.
Then something else happened. There is always an uglier, darker side to social media. Before the bodies had been counted. Before families and friends knew if their loved ones were safe the conspiracy theorists were wide awake and filling social media with their crazy, obsessive and insulting theories.
You know the format. First blame Blair and Bush (they are aliens in a human form). Then quickly tell us that 9/11 was one big, giant hoax. It never really happened. A bit like the moon landing
I usually laugh and look away. This time I couldn’t. Why at such a time would anyone think to interrupt grieving and shock with such nonsense?
Whack! Then it arrived. Paris was a false flag operation. It was all the fault of the Israelies! ISIS is an Israeli operation in the mixed up mind of the conspiracy theorist.
I felt sick.
This isn’t political hatred. It is an illness. A disease. But above all the timing of the posting of such crazy theories was offensive and plain wrong.
But back to Paris.
I could look back and mention the awful political stunt pulled by Ed Miliband on August 29 2013. But I won’t because I have done that before and will probably do so again in the future. But you can’t blame anyone for this other than the people who planned and carried out the murders.
I don’t know what the answer is but I do look to our political leaders to offer up solutions. My politics are Labour, not as tribal as I used to be but still Labour.
It is Monday afternoon and I switched on the TV.
Jeremy Corbyn was being interviewed. I wanted him to do well. I was almost trying to channel words into his brain.
He said: “we must try and go about our daily lives. Do the things we always do. Obviously being more vigilant”
I smiled, relaxed and sipped my tea. And then…
“I am awaiting confirmation of the legality of the drone strike that killed Emwazi”
I glared at the TV…
“Of course I wouldn’t be happy with a shoot to kill policy on our streets”
I waited for the follow-up of “but we live in dangerous times and if fatal force has to be used to prevent an attack or save lives then so be it”
But instead I hear:
“Such an approach could often be counter-productive”
You can read more and watch the BBC interview here
I growled. I turned off the TV and stared at my Labour Party membership card.
No one I have ever met “likes” a shoot to kill policy but if a terrorist is armed with a gun and is intent on killing then fatal force is often the only option.
Wounding a suicide bomber with explosives strapped to his/her body doesn’t stop them activating the bomb. Again fatal force is necessary to prevent even more deaths, protecting us and those whose job it is to keep us safe.
Corbyn or any political leader worth voting for must recognise and say that. To say anything else is both politically stupid and dishonest.
Jeremy Corbyn clarified his position today (17/11/2015)
“As we have seen in the recent past, there are clear dangers to us all in any kind of shoot-to-kill policy. And we must ensure that terrorist attacks are not used to undermine the very freedoms and legal protections we are determined to defend. But of course I support the use of whatever proportionate and strictly necessary force is required to save life in response to attacks of the kind we saw in Paris.”
Whatever you are doing, stay safe.