Guest column: Our safety and security matters more than privacy

John Mann MP
John Mann MP

Last week a policeman was killed doing his job, calmly and professionally defending our country and our Parliament.

No words will ever replace the loss that his widow and two children now live with.

I salute Keith Palmer and I mourn the other victims of terrorism.

I missed witnessing the actual attack by no more than ten seconds.

I had crossed the palace yard and walked up the stairs to the chamber only to see the Prime Minister being bundled away and was told a terrorist attack was taking place.

In my view the safety of MPs is no more or less important than anybody else in the country.

We are at risk, but less so than the police, emergency services and other front line staff who responded as trained and rushed towards danger.

Their courage is to be saluted, our systems of training and response worked because of their dedication.

The response of untrained, unprepared members of the public should also be recognised.

Being a major tourist site there were people in the midst of terror from very many countries, of different religions and nationalities.

Each of them showed themselves to have the true British bulldog spirit.

The truth is that terrorists attack Parliament because it is yours, you own it and it represents our way of living, our values, and your rights.

My last meeting before the attack was with a leading moderate Muslim asking for my direct support in leading a campaign to expose terror-sympathising groups in the UK who remain legal.

Two hours before this latest attack I agreed to head up this initiative.

It is time we gave better and stronger support to moderate British Muslims who stand up to terrorists and expose extremists.

I also back giving more surveillance powers to the security services.

I have had emails asking me to ‘protect individual liberties’ and claiming that the State will snoop on them.

Let me make it absolutely clear that I will continue to vote for these powers.

Frankly if the security services are able to snoop on me, my emails and my computer, I could not care less.

We have democratic systems in this country to hold them to account.

However, I want them snooping on the email and computers of potential child molesters, organised criminals and terrorists.

I also want them to be able to intervene and stop potential terrorist recruits.

I do not care what the whips in Parliament say, because I will continue voting for strengthened security service powers.

Keith Palmer’s life, others last week and who know’s who tomorrow are worth more than my so-called privacy.

A decent man, a brave man, doing his job — for all of us.