Two years ago the world was shaken by the appalling events in New York. In this world of rapid global communications I believe the greatest horror for most of us at that time was being able to watch events as they unfolded live on television. Those images and the sense of disbelief, then powerlessness, that followed will remain with many of us for all our lives.
Security within our own city, London, has increased and we have grown accustomed to wider surveillance of certain groups of people within our country but to date we have not seen the wholesale erosion of our liberties that many, including me, feared. However I am not complacent on this matter and will continue to scrutinise carefully any further restriction made by the government on our freedom of action.
The desperate television pictures of continuous bombings throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and many other countries such as Indonesia have become so regular that their images stay only fleetingly and merge into each other. For countless numbers of people the events of two years ago will understandably have changed their outlook on everything. But it has been uplifting to see that most of us have carried on in the face of terrorist horror determined not to be beaten by its wilful destruction of human life.
My mailbag regularly contains letters and hopes from constituents that I concentrate my efforts on the Iraq and Israel/Palestine international situations because to many nothing is more important than that peace comes to the whole of the Middle East. Most of the correspondents on this subject have been woman as it was in the aftermath of the World Trade Centre horror two years ago and it has been of great value to me to appreciate the strength of feeling from fellow local residents about the way ahead.
I visited Syria in May and I hope to make two further Parliamentary delegation visits to India and Israel later this year. I gained useful insights into the economic and social life in Syria and I hope to do the same in other countries. It is impossible for me to meet terrorists in these countries but I have heard enough utterances from members of the IRA to know that democracy and liberty have no place in the tool bag of the terrorist.
What happened two years ago was a promise of futher pain to come and so it has proved. Political solutions are within each nation’s grasp but these are eschewed for the madness of the bomb and the AK47. The populations of each country in the Middle East are growing rapidly and we are seeing a whole new generation of young people being brought up against a backdrop of violence and uncertainty.
I fervently hope that each nation in this troubled region finds within its borders a statesman of maturity and wisdom to bring their fellow countrymen through to a peaceful and democratic future.