London Bomb Attacks (Supplementary) [9]

Session date: 
July 20, 2005
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Mr Mayor, I would like to start by passing on to you the regards of a good few Londoners who have asked me to do this. They have said how pleased they are that they had you as a Mayor, and they have said that in relation to the leadership and the words that you spoke. They said that they felt that you were speaking for them, and I just wanted to pass that on to you.

I have a two-part question. We recognise that the events of 7 July brought the majority of Londoners together, because it seems to me that Londoners stepped up and said, `I am a Londoner, and you will not pass.' However, will you join me in condemning those who used the very event as a reason to attack a mosque and a number of Londoners who were on the streets in the days after the event? After the immediate response of this fund to families and to those who have suffered, will there be a call, do you think, for a memorial ' a lasting memorial of some sort? Have you thought what your response to that call will be?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for London Bomb Attacks (Supplementary) [9]

Answer for London Bomb Attacks (Supplementary) [9]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Clearly, there will be some kind of permanent memorial, but my instinct is that we will get to that after we have dealt with the immediate needs of those who lost loved ones and those who have been maimed. That should be, very clearly, the order of priorities.

I have to say, for the last four years, I have known this was inevitably a day that would come, and we have done a vast amount of work to put in place the things that made it difficult for this to happen, and then the things to minimise the loss of life once it had happened, but also, through the last four years, both my thinking and the Government's has been that you also have to make sure that they did not divide us and we did not have the sort of unpleasant reaction that they had in the Netherlands to their equally shocking political events over the last few years.

I think that, although we have had an increase particularly in verbal abuse, and rocks thrown at a mosque in Bexley, against the background of what has happened in other cities around the world in the aftermath of events like this, I think it has been an incredible response. Londoners just were not going to be divided. The police put in place all those things we planned to actually make it difficult for extremists to exploit this, and I saw the comments of many Members of the Assembly ' Bob Neill and others ' in response to the use of the image of the bus on an election leaflet by the British National Party (BNP) in Barking and Dagenham. I think, particularly as we came home from that vigil in Trafalgar Square, and then got the news of just how roundly the BNP had been defeated, this is an indication that Londoners were not abused in that way and they had the strength and intelligence to actually recognise when people are just trying to poison what is, I think, the most successful mixed-community city in the world.