Column: Keep calm and carry on - the darkness will not overcome us

Leader of the House of Commons David Lidington addresses parliament after the attacks
Leader of the House of Commons David Lidington addresses parliament after the attacks

The terrorist attack in Westminster last month was shocking in its brutality. Bereaved families and those who were injured will have to live with the physical and mental scars. Those people will have to continue living with the grief and pain long after the cameras have been switched off and the headlines have switched to some other story.

For me, it was important that we in Parliament expressed our sorrow and sympathy, as was done in the Prime Minister’s statement and comments by other party leaders the next day.

But it was right too that we then returned to normal parliamentary business. Terrorists seek to instill fear and stop us from going about our lives. To assert the mundane and routine in the face of terror is a way to show that we will not be intimidated. We will not abandon the values and way of life of a free and open society, nor will we allow hatred and violence to divide our country on grounds of race or religion.

For all the dedication and professionalism of our intelligence agencies and police, the truth is that in an open society there can never be 100% security. Tourists walking across Westminster Bridge, shoppers in Stockholm or Berlin, young people at a concert in Paris - normal life itself is seen as a target.

Of course we in Parliament are reviewing security as you would expect after any such incident. We owe that to our 14,000 passholders and the many thousands of visitors who come each year. But cannot close Parliament’s doors to our constituents. Nor will MPs stop holding constituency surgeries despite the murder of Jo Cox last year.

We should be unceasing in our efforts to prevent and defeat terrorism, through intelligence efforts, policing, and diplomatic work with other countries.

We do need to keep our laws under review and ensure that our agencies have the powers they need. But we as a society also need to show in our resolve just to “keep calm and carry on” that the

darkness will not overcome us.