John Harris

Journalist & Author

On terrorism, David Cameron is reading from the Blair script | John Harris

Yet again our leaders are warning of the threat to our way of life while simultaneously chipping away at its foundations

Britains response to the rise of Islamic State may look like a mess of ambivalence, hesitation and all-round cluelessness for which the prime ministers antics with that surfboard probably stand as some kind of grim metaphor. But at the core of our politicians reaction to events in Syria and Iraq and the recruitment of British-born fighters, there are the remains of a familiar script: the one written by Tony Blair 13 years ago, when the events of 11 September 2001 began the disastrous phase of geopolitical history in which the then prime minister believed his moment had arrived.

Strange, perhaps, that when the awful consequences are now so obvious, the basics of his approach should linger on. First, there is the idea that British military intervention will ideally be part of what happens in the coming months which David Cameron must know will be a difficult political sell, though his recent claim that the UKs military prowess will be part of any solution surely indicates where his heart lies. Second, note the PMs rhetoric: his claims that Britain itself is under threat and faces a generational struggle which we will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime are Blair redux, once again echoing the jihadists own vanities. Third, on the domestic front, policy looks to have been polluted by classical Blairite doublethink, whereby our adversaries are said to represent the antithesis of democracy and the rule of law, but if they are to be defeated, the fundamentals of our liberty British values, you could call them will have to be set aside.

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