The politicians now have hundreds of troops protecting them while telling the rest of us to Keep Calm, Stay ‘United’ and Carry On. But who is going to protect OUR kids from the terror THEY let in?
At this difficult time, Britain is faced with some hard questions the people charged with protecting us are going to have to answer sooner or later.
The Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi was known to the authorities. He is believed to have travelled to the Middle East and become radicalised before returning to the UK to cause carnage at a gig in the city where he was born just days later.
As his father and brother were arrested in Libya, security force sources there said the father had links to Al Qaeda and another source claimed the brother ‘was aware of all the details’ of attack plans.
Yet he was allowed to walk back to the UK unchallenged.
What planet are we on when in the face of all these red flags, our leaders allow such deeply suspicious characters back into Britain and then expect us to swallow their lies that we will not give in to terror?
We didn’t just give in. We put out the WELCOME HOME mat for them too.
‘Business as usual,’ they said.
‘We carry on as normal,’ they said.
‘We are stronger,’ they reminded us. Over and over. A propaganda machine in full flow.
The BBC created a little video of people telling us they were not angry, they would not be beaten. Students, affluent metropolitans, telling us they were not afraid.
Reminders were sent to the inboxes of school teachers, telling them to amplify this message. We are stronger. We will not tolerate hate.
Tell that to the family of little Saffie Rose, whose mother is still in a coma. Who does not know even her baby is dead.
Because the truth is that a little bit of all of us died yesterday. Not just our children, the off-duty policeman, and two lovely mums, but parents up and down the country. Texting, emailing, tweeting to tell me they were done. Had had enough. We’re sick to death with this country and the state we are in.
Wondering if they were the only ones too scared to send their child on the school trip, dreading their child commuting to work, refusing to let their kids out until after the football was over.
A lot of people have told me they feel tired today, exhausted. And they don’t know why.
It is this everyday fear that tramples roughshod over all our lives all the time now. This heightened consciousness of danger. It’s fatiguing. Leaves you with a jaw of concrete, aching teeth, neck muscles taut and subconsciously clenched against it all.
I saw a group of French children spilling off their coaches onto the South Bank. Fifty or sixty excited, babbling things, milling about in one big group in matching yellow t-shirts.
A soft target.
I was afraid for them. Wanted them to split up. Be harder to hit. Wanted to shout ‘spread out’ and clap my hands to scare them apart, away, the way you frighten little birds from under the feeder when you see next door’s cat.
And amongst all this worry and fear, our state broadcaster and our leaders continued to blatantly lie to our faces that ‘it is business as usual’, even as the sound of thousands of marching boots could be heard in the distance and the army powered in.
Britain is in lockdown. Three thousand eight hundred troops are being deployed to protect sites across the UK and armed police have begun roaming patrols around train stations, shopping malls and other easy targets. One thousand soldiers have been posted to guard Buckingham Palace.
The way things are going, I can imagine tanks rolling down the Mall before too long.
More stand guard at Number 10. Parliament is closed to the public. The Changing of the Guard is cancelled.
All sensible precautions. And we applaud our military for springing to action in response to the latest attack. For being there to call on when we need them.
But two things become clear when you speak to ordinary men and women who are trying to keep outwardly calm when they feel anything but.
The first is the glaring gulf between the mantra that we must all carry on as normal and the reality. Politicians are desperate to stay on message about how united we are; they shout the same message ever-louder to drown out the sound of an entire regiment marching across town.
What’s that platoon doing? Oh nothing, ignore them. We don’t give in to terror.
Leaders are so determined for us to hear ‘we will not let terror win, we stand united’, that they are deaf to the report of Jon Rouse, chief officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, warning that many victims have life-threatening injuries.
‘We are dealing with injuries to major organs, we’re dealing with loss of limbs, we’re dealing with embedded objects.’
I can’t let myself dwell on these words. These victims do not stand united.
Nor do the dead or orphaned. Nell Jones, 14, John Atkinson, 26. Two sisters aged 20 and 12 orphaned as their parents were slaughtered. Olivia Campbell, 15, who was finally identified amongst the dead. For 24 hours her mother waited to hear news of her child; I’d argue the killer tortured her, too.
And the second frustration I hear is: it’s all very well putting armed soldiers at the House of Commons and Number 10 to protect the people who made the decisions that enabled both the infiltration of our country by terror and the hot-housing of terror here on home soil.
But what about the normal people, regular hard-workers, trying to do their jobs, pick their kids up from school, eat tea as a family? The people who have been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness, where the human rights of the Jihadi matter more than the actual lives of our children?
Where are the troops around the places that we visit? The underground we need to get home?
We are easy pickings. Little birds waiting for the cat, not knowing when it will pounce. Only knowing that the threat level is now Critical. The highest level we have. Which means an attack is imminent — we just don’t know where or when or how.
I wonder, given we can’t be afforded personal protection, and are not privileged to government intelligence on the attack, does the threat level make you feel more safe or less, more protected or exposed?
One thing is certain: Britain is not engaging in business as usual. It is in lockdown.
We don’t carry on as normal. Our country has been changed forever. Some of our children are still fighting for their lives in hospital. Others wait to be buried. One mother doesn’t even know her child has been killed. (I hope for her sake she never wakes.)
And we do not stand united. We are divided between the messages we are told and the reality we face: the troops protecting politicians whilst us plebs, like ants, wonder where the next footstep will fall.