We won't bow to extremist bullies, says Reid

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Indy Politics

The Home Secretary John Reid today vowed there will be no "no-go areas" in Britain in the efforts to tackle extremism.

A week after his efforts to connect with British Muslims were hijacked by radical hecklers in East London he said he would not be "brow-beaten" by extremist "bullies".

His visit to Waltham Forest was his first, but would not be his last, as he insisted there would be "no compromise with terrorism".

And with continued speculation about his possible intentions to stand against Gordon Brown to become the next party leader, he told delegates he would play his "full part" in any future Labour victory, adding: "When one of us succeeds, the others don't fail. We share in that success."

His wish list for the party was very short - a fourth term of a Labour government.

In an impassioned address on countering terrorism he told delegates: " If we in this movement are going to ask the decent, silent majority of Muslim men and women to have the courage to face down the extremist bullies, then we need to have the courage and character to stand shoulder to shoulder with them doing it.

"So when the terrorists or their loud-mouth advocates of terrorism sympathisers tell me that we won't be allowed to raise our arguments in this or that part of the community, my answer is simple:

"Yes we will. This is Britain, There are, and will be, no 'no-go areas' in our country for any of our people, whatever their background, colour or creed. We will go wherever we please, we will discuss what we like and we will never be brow beaten by bullies. That's what it means to be British," he told the party conference in Manchester.

To rapturous applause he went on: "And let's be clear. It cannot be right that the rights of individual suspected terrorist be placed above the rights, life and limb of the British people. It's wrong. Full stop. No ifs, no buts. It's just plain wrong."

Mr Reid said he was "genuinely saddened" by Tory leader David Cameron's stance on law and order, repeating the accusation they "talk tough and vote soft".

"We must have the courage of our convictions. This is a time for standing up for what we believe. And I mean all of us - irrespective of party affiliation. I want to see the widest, deepest, national alliance.

"I am genuinely saddened by the response of the Opposition. I understand that David Cameron has not been in post long. But he has to be capable of making some decisions.

"That's what leadership is all about. There are some issues so serious, so rooted in the very fibre of our national values that we need to make the hard choices now.

"David Cameron may find that those who wait too long to see which the wind is blowing, get blown away by the gale.

"They are too lacking in leadership. But if they won't lead, they will."

Tony Blair had asked him to review Britain's counter terrorist capacity in the light of August's alleged airline bomb plot.

"We agree that we need a radical step change to ensure that there is a seamless co-ordinated approach to the now seamless threat.

"This is not a clash of civilisations. It's not Muslims versus the rest of us. It's evil terrorists on one side against all civilised people on the other."

He also vowed to put respect "back at the heart of our communities".

"I believe in a Britain where there is no compromise with terrorism, where immigration is managed fairly, where rights are matched with responsibilities, where policing is based in communities - visible, accessible, responsive."

And he pledged the flagship Community Payback Scheme would produce "simple, swift justice".

"So, if people ruin our community they are going to have to put it right themselves.

"And why shouldn't violent offenders pay towards the healthcare costs of their victims?"