2019 will go down as one of the most pivotal and dramatic in the United Kingdom’s (UK) post-war history.
The political gridlock over Brexit led to the holding of third General Election in four years – and the first one held in the month of December since 1923. Shattering Labour’s ‘red wall’ of safe seats in working-class towns in the Midlands and the north, Boris Johnson led the Conservatives to their largest parliamentary majority since 1987. In terms of seats, a hapless Jeremy Corbyn led Labour to its worst General Election performance since 1935.
Sitting as a research fellow in the Henry Jackson Society’s Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism, it perhaps comes as no surprise that I feel London Bridge was a defining moment in the build-up the recent UK General Election. The Islamist-inspired terrorist attack thrust the ‘rehabilitation’ of convicted terrorists into the spotlight. Perpetrator Usman Khan had taken part in a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange, as well as plans to establish a terrorist military training facility on his family’s land in Kashmir. After being released early from prison, he proceeded to carry out a deadly terrorist attack at Fishmongers’ Hall – in London.
Participating in state-run rehabilitation courses such as the Home Office’s Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP), Khan unleashed his terror at a prisoner rehabilitation seminar co-organised by the University of Cambridge – killing two of its own graduates in Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones. Following the attack, it was revealed that Khan had behaved in an aggressive and intimidating manner towards prison staff while he served his cut-short sentence. Quite understandably, much of the British public would have thought: ‘How on Earth was this allowed to happen?’
The response of the leaders of the two major parties, was telling. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, already plagued by long-standing allegations of overfriendliness with organisations such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, Hamas, and Hezbollah, suggested that some convicted terrorists could be considered for early release from their prison sentences. A quite remarkable point of view, when considering the background of the man who had carried out the latest deadly terrorist attack on British soil. Boris Johnson reacted to the terrorist attack by announcing that all those who had been released early from prison sentences for terrorism-related offences would have their license conditions reviewed, as well as pledging to review the policy of automatic parole. The contrasting reactions only reinforced the broader public view that the UK’s modern political Left was spectacularly out-of-touch over matters of public safety.
Brexit did not ‘divide’ and ‘polarise’ this country as such – rather, what it did was expose the fundamental cultural disconnections which had taken hold in society. A disconnection which sees woolly liberal judges reduce the sentences of convicted terrorists – compromising public safety in local communities in the process. A group of metropolitan cosmopolitans, obsessed with providing dangerous criminals with ‘second chances’ and supportive of idealistic rehabilitation courses, are completely at odds with the wider British public who are instinctively protective. These decent people simply want the criminal justice system to have a stronger emphasis on retribution, and for counter-terrorism policies to better prioritise domestic security.
While the metropolitan political classes have adopted a relaxed approach to multiculturalism, much of the public they are meant to serve have grown increasingly anxious over the impact of cultural diversity and the existence of ‘parallel societies’ in more urbanised, deprived parts of the country. Craving a greater sense of security and belonging, they have been ‘culturally marginalised’ by over-indulgent metropolitan types operating in politics, along with the civil service, the judiciary, the media, and academia.
2019 is a year where a great number of the British people made it crystal clear: that they are sick to death with the anti-democratic tendencies and ultra-woke indulgence of the out-of-touch metropolitan elites. When democratic exercises are held, the majority of British people expect the result to be respected by their elected representatives. They wish to be treated with respect and dignity – and will no longer tolerate being ignored, and even worse, abused, when expressing perfectly legitimate views on matters of democratic governance. They refuse to be sneered at over their more traditional views on the family unit, community, and nation, by a hyper-internationalist ‘woke’ brigade which aggressively promotes open-borders and cosmopolitanism and takes a ‘flexible’ view on matters of gender identity. And their more protective instincts mean they reject any form of metropolitan virtue-signalling when it comes to issues of public safety and national security.
2019 was the year cultural stability and public security triumphed – when the well-mannered British people pushed back against the totalitarian impulses of ‘wokism’.
And critically – it was a year when the anti-democratic demands for the continuation of the status quo were corrected by Britons’ democratic desire for the UK to take matters into its own hands.