Cameron: Government not keeping UK safe

The government is not doing enough to safeguard the UK’s security, David Cameron has warned in his first major speech since last week’s terror alert.

The Conservative leader said his party wanted to work with ministers to tackle terrorism, but argued that they had failed to take the required action so far.

Mr Cameron said the alleged plot to blow up transatlantic flights was “deeply shocking”, but not surprising, adding that since September 11th people across the world had known about those driven by “a twisted and perverted ideology” to kill innocent people.

And he warned: “I do not believe that the government is doing enough to fight Islamist
extremism at home, or to protect our security.”

However, John Prescott said the Witney MP’s remarks were “almost beyond belief”, and accused him of undermining the political unity needed in the face of such a terror threat.

“All of Britain’s communities are potential victims of the plans of terrorists and we will only defeat them if we remain united as a country,” said the deputy prime minister.

“His claim that we haven’t done enough has to be judged against the Tories failure to support many of the measures that we have introduced to fight terrorism.”

Mr Cameron said he was “deeply concerned” at the Treasury’s decision to freeze the Home Office budget for the next three years, insisting that providing the proper resources for the police and security services must be priority.

He repeated his call for intercept evidence to be allowed in court so more terror suspects could be brought to justice, and stressed that his party still backed a new cabinet position for homeland security and a dedicated border police.

Communities secretary Ruth Kelly and Mr Prescott have been meeting with Muslim leaders this week to urge them to take a tougher line against extremism in their communities in the wake of last week’s terror threat.

But Mr Cameron noted that there had been similar discussions after the July 7th bombings in London last year, and asked why the government had failed to take action – particularly in enforcing its own counter-terrorism laws.

For example, he asked why so few preachers of hate had been prosecuted or expelled, and why had so little been done to minimise the impact of foreign imams who came to Britain to preach “often with little knowledge or appreciation of British values”.

“A year ago, we were promised tough and concerted action to deal with the community crisis in our midst. But precious little has actually been done,” he warned.

By contrast, Mr Cameron argued, the Tories had made “constructive suggestions to strengthen the fabric of our society”, including proposals for school exchanges, teaching English to foreigners arriving in the UK and “proper” teaching of history in schools.

He also repeated his support last year for the creation of a mosques commission that could regulate mosques and help young people get involved.

Mr Cameron concluded: “It’s not enough for ministers to sound firm in the face of sudden crisis. We need firmness plus follow-through.”