The feeling here is quite bizarre today.
Pure and utter defiance is the most economic way of decribing it.
It has given Britain an entirely new global identity. One it has been long searching for.
What role goes with that identity we have yet to see, but the direction we take will depend on who gains control of this new identity, the nostalgics who would use it to re-enact a Battle Of Britain fantasy of the past and invoke and impose their version of the Dunkirk Spirit, or those who would try to direct this momentum in a progressive direction.
Bob Geldof Vs Rupert Murdoch, if you like.
As for yesterday, it’s becoming clear that the bombers got it so so wrong.
The bombs went off at the wrong psychological moment, when London was at it’s warmest and most unified. As a consequence, yesterday’s bombs were seen as particularly spiteful, fun-hating act. An attempt to snatch away innocent joy as well as lives.
The reaction has therefore been a loud ‘How dare you.’
It wasn’t their fault, but if on Wednesday, Paris had been awarded the Olympic Games, London would not be on the high it is today. The bombers have failed. Partly because of 4 votes of the Olympic committe, and partly because of Mayor Ken Livingstone’s historic speech, which surgically triggered exactly the right emotions, but mostly because London is the most inclusive, welcoming city in the world. In London you can call yourself a Londoner after living here a year. Nowhere else. Yesterday was a gross betrayal, and the reaction is genuine and loud and we mean it.
The pay-off is that London is now the capital of the world. Britain’s long search for a new multi-cultural, post-imperial identity is over. ‘We Are All Londoners Now’. We are the senior member of The Black Ribbon Club. New York, Madrid and Istanbul and Bali were more bloody, but only in London was the very spirit of the city felt to be under attack. And that was partly down to pure dumb luck.
The next 7 years will see London’s international profile grow even more. Culminating in Lord Blair, Sir Ken Livingstone, Lord Geldof, prime Minister Brown and King Charles seated next to each other at the 2012 opening ceremony.
We seem to have become the icon of resistance to global jihad, and we love it. Making these games happen will be portrayed as throwing down the gauntlet to the anti-materialist froces of evil. It will bring us a lot of attention and a lot of commerce but it will make us a target for further terrorism.
Gallant Little Britain is a noble thing to be, but what’s the plan exactly? How long do we have to man this post?
Might it not be better to harness the international wave of goodwill to a constructive path forward, rather than use it as a justification of further … what exactly? Who do we bomb? Tell me – I’m tempted to say I’ll bomb them myself if it means and end to this horror.
The West blew the same sort of opportunity after 9/11, is this a second chance. By chance.
Ken Livingstone, mayor of London 8/7/05
“Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.
I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others – that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.
In the days that follow, look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.
They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don’t want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.”