My very best wishes to you for Christmas and the New Year. The news from around the world this year has at times been sobering, with major humanitarian and environmental disasters taking place in some of the most populous regions in the world. It is scarcely believable that the tsunami in South-East Asia happened as long ago as Boxing Day last year and the work to clear up the devastation is still having to take place across much of the region.
On the positive side, these natural disasters have shown that in times of real crisis the community of nations has the capacity to work closely together without consideration of race or religion and with global conflict and disagreements put to one side.
Let us hope that 2006 will see similar harmonious and peaceful working between nations and peoples without the need for disasters to bring about such co-operation. Recent months for us Westminster residents have been overshadowed by the devastation caused at the Edgware Road and Aldgate terrorist bombings on 7th July.
We have all been made aware of the stark terrorist threat in central London and the loss of life some months ago has had an impact on so much of London’s business life, tourism, retail operations and general movement of the public.
In talking to my fellow residents I have found that there is a great strength of feeling that life must go on. Truly, the criminal murderers who carried out these attacks will have won if we are all terrorised into going fearfully about our daily lives. This was not an attack on London alone, but on the very idea of freedom, democracy and an open society. Instinctively we know, because we have been here before, the right path to take.
It has been uplifting to see Londoners show no fear and leave no doubt in the minds of the world outside of our true intentions. On that note may I wish us all a peaceful and resolute year ahead.