TIM LOUGHTON: Attacks only bring us closer together

Floral tributes in Parliament Square
Floral tributes in Parliament Square

Last Thursday I was at my desk in Portcullis at the House of Commons before 8am as usual.

The walk in across Westminster was more problematic than normal as most roads remained cordoned off and, as always happens when devoid of the roar of traffic, there was an eerie quiet punctuated only by the occasional helicopter overhead.

In Parliament itself the mood was predictably sombre but marked with a distinct feeling of defiance.

And so it was business as usual at the Mother of Parliaments less than 24 hours after the senseless and brutal lone attack which left four innocent people dead and dozens injured on Westminster Bridge.

The Commons was packed for a dignified and determined statement by the Prime Minister on the security situation and then we carried on with questions about international trade, equality issues and debates on Equitable Life compensation and social mobility.

Apart from the inevitable tightening of security it has been business as usual ever since.

Fellow human beings may have tragically lost their lives, our colleagues may have been shaken, democracy has not been undermined.

This attack, like all those before, has failed and always will in the future.

PC Palmer wore the Queen’s uniform all his working life and he gave his life in defence of our freedoms and our safety.

He was unarmed yet he did not hesitate to run towards danger rather than away from it to protect others and preserve the Mother of Parliaments.

In a way it is very presumptuous to imagine what PC Palmer thought at the moment as he saw that monster come towards him.

However, I would be very surprised if it was not some variant of ‘they shall not pass’.

It is at (mercifully rare) times like this that you really appreciate the risks that those in uniform (and many without) expose themselves to, day in day out, in order to keep the rest of us safe.

We should all be immensely grateful and not be shy to express that gratitude when we come across our police officers, service personnel and others as they go about their jobs.

In these times of heightened security we all have a duty of vigilance and care to make their job less difficult.

I am very grateful for the many messages checking that I was alright whilst ‘corralled’ with 400 or so fellow MPs in the Commons chamber during four and a half hours of lockdown.

Thank you all for the many subsequent emails sending best wishes to me and my staff for getting on with the job we do.

Regardless of our often conflicting views on politics we are at one in the support and respect for our democratic processes and institutions.

In the constituency the following day I attended a packed mosque in Worthing to express solidarity with the local Muslim community who so often have to bear the brunt when maniacs attack our fellow countrymen in a completely corrupted claim on their religion.

There were wise words of condemnation and defiance from the greatly respected Imam Idris and it was encouraging to hear that he had received many messages of solidarity from local people at this time.

Across the board these attacks can only succeed in bringing us closer together.

• If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at loughtont@parliament.uk

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