MY fellow citizens, the murder of Sir David Amess hangs heaviest on his family. But it has also affected every decent person in this country, and beyond. He was a much-admired, long-serving and talented public servant, doing the job he loved. That he paid for this with his life is heartbreaking. We continue to mourn with his wife Julia and five children. Now that a man has been found guilty of murder, there will be many more condolences and consoling words, and rightly so.
But they’re not enough. Yes, this is a tragedy. But it’s also an outrage. And so it’s right, indeed only ‘human’, that we are stirred to anger too. A measured, dignified anger, which David himself would have felt had this happened to one of his colleagues, and this must be channelled into action.
What can be done? Let me begin by showing humility. This nation, led by its politicians, has engaged in a great experiment with multiculturalism. In hindsight, we were wrong to do so. In our naivety, ignorance and arrogance, we thought newcomers to our shores would integrate, that they’d conform to British values without any determined effort to integrate them (or that it wouldn’t matter if they didn’t). Unlike the US we did not demand they stood for the flag. We did not demand acceptance of our Judeo-Christian cultural heritage and rule of law. We should have. Of course, many did and do. But despite all the benefits this country bestowed, far too many didn’t and don’t.
If this were not bad enough for the cohesion of the United Kingdom, some immigrants, and even their offspring born and brought up here, actively seek to do us harm of the most serious kind. That much is patently clear. Is there a pattern to the violence we see? Is there a common theme? Yes, there is: the evidence is irrefutable. It’s no longer possible to make excuses, or acceptable to look the other way. There’s no use pretending such attacks won’t happen again. Our security services are working night and day to foil new ones.
Members of the Muslim community have made significant contributions to our national life. We salute them for it. But it has come at a heavy price. Too many of their co-religionists take a different, fundamentalist, view of their faith, and act on it to murderous effect. Islam has internal issues to resolve. But that is a matter for Islam. Innocent British citizens deserve more than to be caught in the crossfire. Which is why we need to make this pledge in Parliament: that on my watch Britain will be a hostile place for would-be jihadists.
Firmer action should have been taken long ago, but we have to start somewhere. I will order an immediate inquiry into online Islamic radicalisation, and into the Prevent programme. I promise now that mosques in the UK will be much more strictly monitored for any signs of radicalisation. I ask the question many others are asking, whether imams should be barred from attending prisons, and what they must do to re-establish our trust.
The need for these measures is regrettable. But the first duty of any government, of any prime minister, is to keep its citizens safe. Be in no doubt that with the death of an innocent MP we have crossed a Rubicon. Enough is enough.