As the country reels in the face of yet another abhorrent terror tragedy, the British public today both mourn and condemn last night’s tragic events in London.
The UK emergency services are heroes to whom we all owe our lives; the swift actions of the police, paramedics, and NHS undoubtedly prevented further tragedy in the London Bridge area. These people regularly work exhausting long shifts saving lives while on declining, frozen salaries, and in poor working conditions. Yet the government rewards them by treating them with utter contempt: with Theresa May as Home Secretary, police budgets were slashed by £332million, leaving Britain the smallest police force in 40 years. Nurses’ salaries have seen a 1% increase since 2010, while hospital funding cuts have cost thousands of lives in overstretched hospitals. With another Tory government, we can anticipate further devastating cuts to our public heroes, as May sneers in the face of the public sector by falsely claiming that “there is no magic money tree”.
This comes as yet another kick in the teeth for public safety concerns, after a 2015 letter from senior police chiefs had already WARNED that May’s security cuts would leave Britain exposed to more terror attacks. The events of this year have tragically proved these warnings right.
As Home Secretary and now Prime Minister, Theresa May is directly responsible for implementing cuts to policing services, which mean that community officers have been severely hindered when gathering intelligence on suspected extremism in the UK. Before these cuts, bobbies on the beat were able to monitor and gather precious on-the-ground knowledge of radicalisation. Seven years on, Conservative cuts have recklessly destroyed this community orientated role and given the police an impossible mountain to climb.
In addition, teachers, nurses, domestic violence support (a common characteristic of domestic terrorists is a history of domestic violence), criminal support officers, and youth workers used to be able to identify and prevent young men from being radicalised in overcrowded and underfunded schools, jails, housing, and social services. Since these people have been sacked or derailed by budget cuts, the British public have been put in danger.
May’s political rhetoric of ‘enough is enough’ directly contradicts the actions of her party, who have slashed police and NHS funding to critical levels, while being complicit in the funding of terrorists in the Middle East. The UK exports billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, whose radical ideologies, arms, and funds enable and inspire home-grown radicalisation. Only three days ago, May refused to release a report on terrorist funding, because it puts Britain under fire for its intimate relationship with Saudi arms dealers.
We absolutely condemn the terrorist atrocities of last night and its barbaric perpetrators. As such, it is imperative that the electorate listen to the police and police chiefs who state that they are dangerously underfunded. The next government needs to reward its public heroes instead of continuing to punish them with cuts and austerity. The Tories have shown no remorse at their culpability in last night’s tragedy. While Theresa May appeared today to show awareness of the need to develop a long term terror strategy in the UK, she failed to respond to the most obvious urgent change needed in Britain today, which is a reversal of her own cuts. Police chiefs who predicted the damage of Tory cuts have sadly been proved right. When they say we need more police on the streets, we need to listen.
The vacuous Tory response to this tragedy shows how utterly out of touch they are with the British people. We have every right to hear the truth from the police and our politicians about what is really going on. Former police officer Peter Kirkham has not only stated that May misses the point, but that her government is lying to the public. The implication that the police force has magicked up more officers is utterly false. Instead, it has drafted officers from outlying areas and left these communities painfully at risk. The policing coverage is threadbare and if last night’s attack had happened in many areas outside of London, the fast and effective response we saw would have been far more difficult to enact.
When Corbyn cuts the Saudi arms deals, and puts more police on the ground, he will reverse the momentum that these mindless terrorists have gained. The Tories know it, and so do the terrorists. Don’t let them win.