Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today said he would take whatever action is necessary to keep the UK safe - and pointed to a link between wars fought by Britain and terrorism at home.
Speaking in central London as the main parties kicked off election campaigning again after a hiatus in the wake of the Manchester terror attack, Corbyn said the whole country had been "united in shock and grief" after the tragic events of Monday night.
When I stood on Albert Square at the vigil in Manchester, there was a mood of unwavering defiance. The very act of thousands of people coming together sent a powerful message of solidarity and love. It was a profound human impulse to stand together, caring and strong. It was inspiring.
He also said acts like the attack on the Manchester Arena, the Westminster attack and the murder of Jo Cox "are used as an opportunity to try to turn communities against each other".
"So let us all be clear, the man who unleashed carnage on Manchester, targeting the young and many young girls in particular, is no more representative of Muslims, than the murderer of Jo Cox spoke for anyone else," Corbyn said.
Whatever it takes
Alluding to his pacifist beliefs, Corbyn stated: "I have spent my political life working for peace and human rights and to bring an end to conflict and devastating wars. That will almost always mean talking to people you profoundly disagree with. That’s what conflict resolution is all about.
But do not doubt my determination to take whatever action is necessary to keep our country safe and to protect our people on our streets, in our towns and cities, at our borders.
He also noted that "many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home".
"That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children," he added. "Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions."
But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.
Labour's security policy
Corbyn said a Labour government would take the following action on security:
- Domestically, cuts to emergency services and the police will be reversed
- There will be more police on the streets
- If security services need more resources, they "should get them"
- There will also be chances to the UK's actions abroad
The Labour leader also paid tribute to "the people who we ask to protect us and care for us in the emergency services, who yet again did our country proud: the police; firefighters and paramedics; the nurses and doctors; people who never let us down and deserve all the support we can give them".
"And the people who did their best to help on that dreadful Monday night – the homeless men who rushed towards the carnage to comfort the dying, the taxi drivers who took the stranded home for free, the local people who offered comfort, and even their homes, to the teenagers who couldn’t find their parents," he continued.
"They are the people of Manchester. But we know that attacks, such as the one at the Manchester Arena, could have happened anywhere and that the people in any city, town or village in Britain would have responded in the same way."