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Response to London

By Bruce Walker
web posted July 11, 2005

How should Tony Blair react to the latest and horrible July 7 terrorist attack on London? How should the British people react? The United Kingdom has a structural advantage that does not exist in the United States and which should be exploited. Tony Blair should call a general election and the Conservative Party and Labor Party should form a coalition government in preparation for this general election.

A view of the bus hit by a bomb near Tavistock Place in London on July 8A view of the bus hit by a bomb near Tavistock Place in London on July 8

Great Britain understands now, if many British citizens did not understand before, that it is in a fight for its life. When it last faced this sort of fight, in 1940, there was a War Cabinet that included as loyal supporters of Winston Churchill members of the Labor Party opposition, including pointedly Clement Atlee, and they remained unflinchingly loyal until victory in Europe.

Surely no member of the Conservative Party in Great Britain can doubt now that the issues facing their country are greater than the threat of terrorism and that the divisiveness of partisanship must be utterly set aside for a period of time. The bickering and questioning that is democracy must, for a time, be suspended if democracy is going to survive.

The details of how such a grand coalition would work in a general election and a War Cabinet can be hashed out in smoke filled rooms. Presumably, in some constituencies the Conservative Party would field a candidate supported by Labor, and in other constituencies Labor's candidate would be supported by the Conservatives. The details of how the coalitions would work are just that.

The key is that the British people themselves must, by a national election, massively repudiate those who would seek to bring down Tony Blair and his policies. This is done in democracies through elections and it is done in parliamentary democracies when there is doubt about whether the government has the confidence of the people. That is precisely what is at issue today, and the question now, as in 1940, is "Can London take it?"

Blair has the power to call for elections, and he has the power to demonstrate that terrorism in brave democracies has exactly the reverse effect of what the terrorists intend: they must see that the worse they behave, the stronger men like Blair and Bush become in democracies. The British have just had one general election and another so soon would be a bother, but near the bother of allowing terrorists to believe that they have won the hearts and minds and guts of the British people.

The British general election is one part – a primary part - of what should be a broader response. European democracies are largely parliamentary. Governments in nations that have been fence-straddling in the war on terrorism can also form grand coalitions and can also call general elections. They should.

European leaders sought unity in a political structure and failed this year. Now these same leaders have the opportunity to gain real unity by having the major political parties put aside their differences, form broad and strongly anti-terrorist coalitions, and then have general elections showing that these coalitions have the overwhelming support of the European people.

If the political leaders of Europe do this – and political leaders means the leaders of different major political parties within the nations of Europe - then the pending sword of Damocles, the rising and militant Moslem immigrant populations of Europe, will see that Europeans have the will to survive without fear and without surrendering their traditional values. Terrorism will have failed, because the material strength of Europe over the Middle East is vastly greater – it is the moral fiber that is at issue.

If the leaders of Europe and the political leaders within European nations continue to act as if life should be normal and that they are not unwillingly involved in a fight for their very survival, then all who died, all who were maimed, and all who were terrified by the bombings in London will have suffered in vain.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.


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