Leading article: The humdrum return of normality

Share

We are a jittery nation in the wake of last week's attacks on London. So there was something inevitable about the events in Birmingham on Saturday night, when police ordered the evacuation of some 20,000 people from the city centre on account of what turned out to be a false alarm. There was also a less dramatic alert in Manchester.

After the awful events in London, no one is going to criticise the police for acting as they did. In a climate of intense public anxiety, they have little option but to react to intelligence threats, even if, as in Birmingham, the reaction proved to be somewhat overblown. The police are well aware of the consequences of the failure to act on sound evidence.

What this underlines, however, is a pressing need to get the country back to normal. There has been too much clichéd talk of Blitz spirit, of typical British stoicism, when in reality there is an air of nervousness and tension. At its most extreme expression, it can lead to the sort of racial hatred that is already leading to attacks on innocent people.

At its lesser edges, this nervousness makes people worry about going on the Underground, or letting their children travel by bus. But life must go on. And like it or not, most of us are going to have to get used to using, and sharing, our trains and buses as much as we did before the bombs went off. Schools in the capital return today, and businesses will expect to see their staff back. The troubled retail sector will be hoping that shoppers return. And, of course, there was a sense of defiance in the huge turnout in the Mall yesterday to pay tribute to war veterans and mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

There is another reason to strongly encourage a mood of business as usual. This is not the usual one of "defying the terrorists", whom we strongly suspect do not care much about our resilience. Our concern is that a mood of public jumpiness plays into the hands of a government whose instincts are authoritarian. It has already shown its appetite for nibbling away at our civil liberties. Many people look on the detention of terrorism suspects without trial, and on the plans to introduce ID cards, as moves that are typical of a government that reacts to any perceived threat with new repressive laws.

It is as vital to avoid any sense of defeatism as it is to avoid the kind of hysteria that prevailed in the United States after 11 September, which gave rise to the sinister-sounding Department of Homeland Security and leading to critics of the administration's actions being denounced in almost McCarthyite fashion as traitors and friends of terrorists.

This is why our humdrum normality must return as soon as possible, and why we must banish the fear factor from our minds.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’  

Children's TV shows like Grange Hill used to connect us to the real world

Grace Dent
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine