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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Blair's business as normal message
By Nick Assinder
Political Correspondent, BBC News website

Tony Blair has once again sent the clearest possible message to those responsible for the attacks on London.

Tony Blair

It amounted to a defiant pledge that they would not succeed if their aim was to terrorise the nation.

The British people were "canny enough" to know the aim was to intimidate them and stop them going about their business.

"We must respond by keeping to our normal lives," he insisted.

And, with his Australian ally John Howard alongside, he showed by example that business would return to normal as soon as humanly possible.

That view was echoed by Mr Howard - and will be repeated by political leaders in the UK - when he declared the best answer to terrorism is always to "carry on undeterred".

The two men then did precisely that.

Front line

But, while the latest incidents may not have been on the scale of the previous London bombs, there will inevitably be implications.

Questions about the level of intelligence will continue to be asked, and the on-going review of security measures will have to take the latest attacks into their remit.

Oval Underground station
Latest attacks will have consequences
The emergency COBRA meetings will continue - ironically the prime minister had been scheduled to meet police and intelligence chiefs later in the day.

There were also questions about the impact of the government's foreign policy, specifically in Iraq.

Asked whether he felt responsible in any sense for putting British citizens in the front line, Mr Blair repeated his message.

"The people who are responsible for doing these sort of things are the people who are responsible."

He said this sort of terrorism had begun more than a decade ago, long before the war in Iraq.

Too lax

Politicians on all sides have praised the prime minister for the calm way he has approached the crisis since the 7 July attacks.

The attacks have already left the prime minister facing some of the most difficult and sensitive decisions of his premiership as he considers to what extent security has to be tightened.

Over-reaction could quickly escalate the sense of crisis and create a fortress atmosphere, while too lax a response risks disaster.

History, and the past two weeks, suggests that whatever the reason for the attacks, they are more likely to unite than divide.


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