In the last three months Britain has seen three horrific terrorist atrocities. These acts of barbarism are unfortunately becoming something of a regular occurrence in 2017, with another suspect attack in Paris today.
The nation’s and many politician’s knee-jerk reaction – understandably – has been to call for security to be dramatically increased and civil liberties to be taken away. These immediate reactions are often not the right ones. However, it is important to know where the two main parties stand on dealing with terror in the UK.
The media consensus seems to be that Labour will fail miserably at preventing terrorism and the Tories will prevail. It is not, however, quite this simple.
Corbyn On Security And Terror Prevention
Whilst Corbyn has had – in the past – a dialogue with Republican party Sinn Féin, these links should not be associated with his views on ISIS. Whilst the IRA were eventually open to talks and the creation of a dialogue, Islamist extremism stands against almost every principle of liberal democracy, rendering the same dialogue impossible. Mr Corbyn understand this.
The manner in which individuals and the media have harangued Corbyn on these previous links is detracting from the conversations that really need to be had: how do we deal with Islamist extremism?
Mr Corbyn says that we need to approach terrorism and security in an entirely different manner. Rather than promoting authoritarian measures which – according to Labour -divide and breed hate, Labour pledge to find alternative solutions. The root causes of terrorism need to be understood to enable such solutions.
Corbyn himself says: ‘Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism.’ One must find the root causes and be proactive instead of current policy which is wholly reactive.
The Labour Party will reverse security budget cuts and recruit 10,000 more police officers, at a cost of £300 million. These pledges are there to aim to prevent attacks in the future, attacks which have been happening more frequently subsequent to recent governmental austerity measures.
May On Security And Terror Prevention
Mrs May and the Conservative Party have their own views on terror prevention and security. Their solution very much focuses on intelligence and armed police.
Theresa May said that potential terrorists cannot have the ‘safe space’ they currently seemingly have. This means that online surveillance may have to be increased in order to prevent such a space online existing.
Furthermore, the Tories propose bringing back the number of armed police officers to where it was on 2010, training a further 1,500 armed officers. Note that Conservative cuts have led to a decrease of 20,000 police officers overall, not including the proposed re-employment of armed officers.
The Conservative Party, however, will not increase police funding to pay for the additional armed police, so other police force cuts may have to be made.
The Conservative manifesto doesn’t mention any additional funding or an overall increase in police officers. It talks about “strengthening the police and security services”. Beyond this the Conservative manifesto is vague.
Who Will Make Britain Safer?
Although the media portrayal of the Labour Party is that they will create an unsafe society, the facts suggest otherwise. Labour will invest more in policing, and are the only party promising to look at the key societal, religious and psychological causes of terrorism.
Likewise, an increase in surveillance, a policy of the Conservative Party, has the likely outcome of being counter-intuitive, breeding division and hatred rather than safety and integration.
The ability to monitor potential terrorists through the use of surveillance is not the real issue here. One must not forget that we are the most surveilled nation on earth. It seems that with almost every attack the assailant was already known to intelligence officials.
The more pertinent issue is the lack of personnel. Without enough police officers, it is almost impossible to act upon the huge amount of data already stored on individuals likely to perpetrate an attack. The information is futile without sufficient police numbers.
And it is Labour, not the Conservatives, who promise to provide these much needed police officers.
So, with regards to security, think again before concluding that the Conservative Party will be ‘strong and stable’. The manifesto policies of Labour are the strong ones, not the Tory ones.