Portsmouth writer and resident Richard Williams has never been so angry with a politician until now, when Theresa May has managed to avoid scrutiny over her record on counter-terrorism and national security, while elements of the media construct Jeremy Corbyn as weak and wobbly on these issues.
‘Enough is enough.’ So now we know. Theresa May’s line has been crossed. Before this she was obviously happy to carry on as normal after the murder of children in Manchester, the attack in Westminster and the various near misses that our under pressure security services have been dealing with over the past few years. As Prime Minister, and formerly Home Secretary, she will have been acutely aware of what the police, and counter-intelligence services have been up against.
There’s no doubt that blame for these recent atrocities lies squarely with those who have committed them, along with those who have protected, aided and abetted the perpetrators.
However, a great many of Theresa May’s policy decisions that have not helped Britain’s security situation one bit.
On May’s watch, we have seen a significant reduction in police numbers and savage cuts to back office support, meaning police offers are having to do far more admin work rather than focusing on their core duties (a similar fate has befallen affected the NHS, education and other public services). In Manchester alone, the police budget has been cut by more than £100m.
We have seen absolute chaos with UK border controls, under May’s stewardship, both before and after the Home Office scrapped the UK Border Authority, outsourced services to private concern Capita, experienced the failure of two expensive IT systems, and admitted that they didn’t know where 12,000 asylum seekers were.
We have a total of 6 coastal patrol vessels (one of which is only just coming into service). Whilst several others are on order, in 2016 there were, at one point, only three ships available to patrol over 7,000 miles of coastline. This compares to an Italian fleet of over 600 (for 4,000 miles), and a Dutch fleet of 16 (for 280 miles). So at least we can be satisfied that our coastguard fleet, so important in the fight against smuggling of people, drugs, weapons and contraband, will almost be as large as that of the Dutch!
In addition, because of budget cuts, our border forces are unable to keep watch on any of the country’s small airfields. Just read that sentence again, and then think about May’s pronouncements over the past year. I am assuming, of course, that as Prime Minister, and previously Home Secretary, she was aware of this issue.
Last year, May also cancelled an aerial surveillance programme designed to help stop migrants from crossing the Channel into Britain, in order to save £4m. The decision was heavily criticised by a former security minister and chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Obviously enough was not enough then.
She has made plenty of other moves that have either compromised our security or stoked division in our society. She scrapped Labour’s national identity card scheme, instigated Operation Vaken, where “Go Home” vans were sent around immigrant communities (11 people left the country as a result), failed to achieve any of her own non-EU country immigration targets (and consistently blamed other departments for it). In addition, there was the infamous treatment of Afghan interpreters, secret security deal with Saudi Arabia and poor handling of the mistreatment of female asylum seekers at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.
Then of course there is her focus on technology, rather than people (I guess it’s cheaper), as a way to solve crime. Her pronouncements, and policies, on encryption, would be laughable, if they weren’t so serious. Are we supposed to trust government departments with our bank details and other personal data? In addition her attempts to control what we see and read on the internet, should be a worry for all of us. Based upon her track record to date, can we really trust her to use these new powers effectively, in our own, and the nation’s interest?
Theresa May’s record is at last finally coming out into the open. Do your own research. You will find plenty of other examples of crass incompetence at the Home Office whilst it was under her management. In view of her record can we trust her, and her government, with our national security?
As Theresa May is beginning to find out, soundbites are easy but talk is cheap.
Enough is enough.
Graphic by Jack Caramac.