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PM's Press Conference - 26 July 2005

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PM's Press Conference - 26 July 2005

26 July 2005

The Prime Minister has held the final monthly press conference before the summer break from inside 10 Downing Street.

Mr Blair begun by outlining earlier discussions with Opposition leaders on a range of anti-terror measures. All parties are supporting the creation of three new offences outlawing inciting terrorism, preparing an attack and giving or receiving terror training.

Addressing journalists earlier today, the Prime Minister said:

"Whatever excuse or justification these people use I do not believe we should give one inch to them.

"Not in this country and the way we live our lives here, not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan, not in our support for two States, Israel and Palestine, not in our support for the alliances we choose, including with America, not one inch should we give to these people."

Read a transcript of the event

Prime Minister

Good morning everyone. This morning, as you know, I met Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy to discuss the terrorism legislation we will be bringing before the House later this year. It was a productive meeting. I am very pleased that the cross-Party consensus on the way forward is continuing. I think when the main political parties present a united front then it sends an important signal to the terrorists of our strength and our determination and our unity to defeat them.

The Bill currently being drafted will create as you know a new offence of all acts preparatory to terrorism, a new offence of indirect incitement to commit a terrorist offence, and a new offence of receiving or giving training in the use of hazardous substances and other methods and techniques for terrorist purposes both here and abroad. And the Bill will be before the House at some point in the Autumn. Clearly we must make sure that we get the terms of it exactly right which is why there are discussions continuing.

And we have also discussed a number of other issues that arise out of the list of options at least for discussion put to us by the Police and the Security Services and these include, for example, increased pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects, the use of intercepts as evidence, whether to create the specific offence of attending a terrorist training camp, the powers that are necessary to deal with these extreme bookshops and the publications that can incite terrorism, the use of the Internet to promote and encourage terrorist activity. There is going to be detailed work on these areas and others over the Summer as we look at the technical and legal Questions involved, and I hope that we will be in a position to present firm proposals to the other Parties in early September.

Obviously these are difficult times and London is being tested, but standing firm. The calm resolve of Londoners is remarked upon time and time again, and rightly, and I would like to place on record again my thanks to the Police and Emergency Services, the Security Services, and those working on London's tubes and buses for all the work they are doing in uniquely challenging circumstances. They have our full support.

It is entirely understandable that the focus is on events over the past few weeks in London, but before taking your Questions I would like, if I might, just to touch briefly on other parts of the domestic agenda where there will be major announcements in the Autumn. On Friday I had a meeting with Ruth Kelly and Patricia Hewitt to discuss the forthcoming White Papers on Health and Education. At the heart of both is the drive to ensure that universal public services are maintained but reshaped around the individual needs of those using them, parents, pupils, patients. Patricia Hewitt has this week announced a significant acceleration in the pace of National Health Service reform, the time that people have to wait for diagnostic tests will fall further as we saw yesterday, and today she is setting out how we plan to move to GP-based commissioning by the end of next year, which will be 2 years ahead of schedule. And it is doctors who are closest to patients so it is right that they make the decisions affecting their care, but we are also announcing new measures to help patients in some areas where there are GP shortages, which are usually incidentally the poorest parts of the country, and new providers will also be allowed to run Primary Care services and the hours these services are available will be extended.

I also met David Blunkett last week to discuss the Autumn's Green Paper on welfare reform. There is obviously a very important record on which to build here as the result of the changes made in the past few years and the reductions in unemployment but the challenge is now to extend opportunity to those who have been denied it in the past and to help even more people back into work.

And finally on the Respect agenda the new Cabinet Committee held its first meeting recently and will be bringing further proposals later this year. As I said after the Election there are far too many communities still blighted by the behaviour of a small minority and they need more help in tackling low-level disorder and we will get that help to them.

Thank you very much.

Question and answer session

Question:

Prime Minister can we try and clear up once and for all this Question about any potential linkage between Iraq and any acts of terror in Britain. If one accepts that the root cause of this terrorism goes back a long way, if one accepts that terrorists will always try and find excuses for any of their actions, and if one accepts that the whole Question that London would have been a target anyway. If one accepts all that, how then can you still deny that there is at least the very possibility that Iraq played a contributory factor into fomenting the extremism amongst some Muslim youths that found its ultimate expression in an act of terror?

Prime Minister:

Well let me try and make sense of this issue. I think, incidentally, I read occasionally that I am supposed to have said it is nothing to do with Iraq, in inverted commas. Actually I haven't said that. If you go back and look at the comments I have made over the past couple of weeks. What I do say is this, and I said this I think to you last Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever we had President Karzai here, and it actually builds on some of the things you were saying in your preamble, as it were.

Question:

Inaudible.

Prime Minister:

No, and you were doing an excellent job I thought, and as it were I adopt all those things in my response before making it. Look, of course people are going to use Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed if you look at what a lot of these terrorist statements say they use both Iraq and Afghanistan incidentally. Often people just talk about Iraq, but they use both of them. They will use Iraq to try and recruit and motivate people. They will use Afghanistan. Before Iraq and Afghanistan, and 11 September, which happened before those two things, they used other things. But I think most people understand that the roots of this go far deeper. And in any event where does this argument take us in the end. And I want to make one thing very clear to you. Whatever excuse or justification these people use I do not believe we should give one inch to them, not in this country and the way we live our lives here, not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan, not in our support for two States, Israel and Palestine, not in our support for the alliances we choose, including with America, not one inch should we give to these people. And I want to say this to you, and I may offend people when I say this, but I am going to say it nonetheless. 11 September for me was a wake-up call. Do you know what I think the problem is? That a lot of the world woke up for a short time and then turned over and went back to sleep again. And we are not going to deal with this problem, with the roots as deep as they are, until we confront these people at every single level. And not just their methods, but their ideas.

Let us just take this issue of Iraq and expose it for a moment. Frankly the obscenity of these people saying it is concern for Iraq that drives them to terrorism. If it is concern for Iraq, why are they driving a car bomb into the middle of a group of children and killing them. Why are they every day in Iraq trying to kill people whose only desire is for their country to become a democracy. Why are they trying to kill people in Afghanistan. Why are they trying, every time Israel and Palestine look as if they could come together in some sort of settlement, they go and wreck it. Why are they killing people in Turkey. What is their excuse there, or in Egypt, or in Saudi Arabia. They will always have a reason and I am not saying that any of these things don't affect their warped reasoning and warped logic as to what they do, or that they don't use these things to try and recruit people. But I do say we shouldn't compromise with it. I am not saying anyone says any of these things justify it, but we shouldn't even allow them the vestige of an excuse for what they do. That is my answer to that.

Question:

The problem with that answer is you do appear to be insulting the intelligence of the British people. I mean people can accept everything that you have said, and at the same time they can feel, as indeed 64% did in a Times poll today, that your involvement with George Bush in Iraq - Britain's involvement - has increased the risk of terrorist attacks like the ones which took place in London. And that is the problem. It seems to me that when you talk about this honesty of wanting to open up this argument, by setting Iraq to one side by not dealing with ...

Prime Minister:

But I haven't set Iraq to one side.

Question:

Well, you have set Iraq to one side because you haven't dealt with the things that have gone wrong in Iraq, the fact that the situation has not improved there, that more people are dying now, for whatever reason, than before. That perhaps as Dominique de Villepin said yesterday that this is something which could justifiably increase the grievance of people living in the Middle East that there are occupying armies there. You don't really deal with that, and until you do that, you in a sense are doing the same as what you are accusing other people of doing, and not opening their eyes.

Prime Minister:

But I am not. I have already made it clear to you that I can see how these people use these issues to recruit people. But you have just said to me something that I think again needs to be dealt with. You have said well cannot you understand how these people justify a sense of grievance by reference to what is happening in Iraq. And my answer to you is no. What is happening in Iraq is that ordinary, decent Iraqis are being butchered by these people with the same terrorist ideology that is killing people in different parts of the world.

Question:

More civilians have been killed by the Americans and the British than have been killed by these attacks.

Prime Minister:

Excuse me. First of all - I don't accept that at all incidentally - but secondly there is all the difference in the world in us taking action against these terrorists and as will happen when military action is taken innocent civilians get killed. We deeply regret every one of those lives. They don't regret the loss of innocent, civilian life. They rejoice in it, that is their purpose. And all the instability in Iraq would stop tomorrow if these terrorists and insurgents stopped. And my point to you Adam is, I am making a more fundamental point because I actually don't think the public is in quite the position that you think they are. Yes, it is true that of course they see these issues as linked in some way. Yes they do. But they also know perfectly well that we cannot give these people any shred of justification for what they do. And when people say, and I have read this over the past few days, people talk about this as if we are doing this in Iraq, they are doing this here. There is more or less an equivalent. Until we get rid of this frankly complete nonsense in trying to build some equivalence between what we are doing helping Iraqis and Afghans get their democracy and these people going in deliberately killing wholly innocent people for the sake of it, until we eliminate that we are not going to confront this ideology in the way it needs to be confronted and my point to you is this, it is time we stopped saying OK we abhor their methods, but we kind of see something in their ideas or maybe they have got a sliver of excuse or justification. They have got no justification for it.

And one other thing I want to say whilst I am on this subject if I might, neither have they any justification for killing people in Israel either. Let us just get that out of the way as well. There is no justification for suicide bombing whether in Palestine, in Iraq, in London, in Egypt, in Turkey, anywhere, in the United States of America. There is no justification for it period and we will start to beat this when we stand up and confront the ideology of this evil. Not just the methods but the ideas. When we actually have people going into the communities here in this country and elsewhere and saying I am sorry, we are not having any of this nonsense about it is to do with what the British are doing in Iraq or Afghanistan, or support for Israel, or support for America, or any of the rest of it. It is nonsense, and we have got to confront it as that. And when we confront it as that, then we will start to beat it.

Question:

I just wonder Prime Minister how convinced you are personally of the need for this package of measures you have been discussing today? Do you need to go back to the Police and Security Services? Do you need them to make a more convincing case? Because some measures will be seen as draconian. They could potentially distort the fundamental freedoms of our society, and that is a side effect of what the terrorists ultimately want to achieve.

Prime Minister:

Well, in this area you have got to be very careful for the reasons you rightly imply that in measures you take you don't destroy the very thing you are trying to protect. On the other hand I do think that we need to look carefully at the measures that we have got which I think are reasonable. I think it is perfectly reasonable to say that if somebody is inciting terrorism here in this country, I am sorry you can go and do that elsewhere, thank you, you are not doing it here. I think it is perfectly reasonable for us in circumstances of great difficulty to have a greater detention in order that there can be the interrogation of people who are suspected of doing this. But I would say in respect of that obviously you have got to look at the time involved, and you have also got to look at judicial involvement too. We have got to be very careful about this, I agree. But I can only speak as I feel personally. I think people rightly expect us to take the measures necessary to improve our security, they abhor the notion of people getting away with inciting violence in our country. People who go to terrorist training camps, my own view is that anybody who goes and attends one of these camps I think potentially is a threat to our country and I think we have got to look very, very carefully at making sure that whatever legal procedures we have got, they are up to the job, and they are up to the job of confronting a situation where you do have, I am afraid, suicide bombers and people willing to kill without mercy and without limit. This is why I want to proceed by way of cross-Party consensus though. I think again you are right in implying that if we want to proceed in this way we have got to do so in a way that carries people with us, and I hope we can do that.

Question:

I am going to return to Iraq, I am afraid, simply as a fact, rightly or wrongly, do you accept the possibility that Britain's involvement in Iraq has increased the danger of terrorism in this country?

Prime Minister:

I don't think I am going to answer that in different terms than I have already answered I am afraid, which is to say that these people will use it. But I honestly think this, and it is up to you whether you agree with it or not, that the roots of this go a lot deeper. You come back to 11 September and 11 September happened before Iraq or Afghanistan.

Question:

Would you accept the possibility?

Prime Minister:

I know what you are trying to do.

Question:

Prime Minister there is big public unease about the idea of MPs taking 80 days holiday at this time of crisis. Why don't you say now that you are going to recall Parliament in September so we can get on with the legislation you talked about, so you can give Statements to Parliament, so you can be held to account?

Prime Minister:

We can recall Parliament at any point in time that it is necessary to do it, but as I think the other Party Leaders were saying this morning, there is only point in doing it, if there is point to it. And as for all of us who will be taking holidays over the next period of time, including I sincerely hope some of you guys, we can all return very easily, and I have made it absolutely clear, and I have put arrangements in place not merely do I for example have secure communications with me wherever I am, but I will return immediately if there is a need to do so, and I think that is the best way of approaching it, and to keep open the option of recalling Parliament and I am perfectly happy to keep that option open.

Question:

Prime Minister an impressive display of cross-Party unity today, and you may well get your new laws, but I can recall - in December I think it was - the Law Lords striking down the laws that David Blunkett had introduced, saying to us that the threat to our security came not from your warnings about terrorism but from the very laws that you were seeking to introduce. Have you got any guarantee that Parliament will pass laws, as you say you want to expel radical clerics, but is there any way you can ensure the judges take account of what we think is now public and parliamentary opinion, and that they will impose those laws, or that they will put the sort of strict interpretation of human rights above my right and everybody else in this room not to be blown up on the tube.

Prime Minister:

Well that is a good Question. I mean the independence of the judiciary is a principle of our democracy and we have to uphold it. But I hope that recent events have created a situation where people can understand that it is important that we do protect ourselves and that in a sense if we can take measures to protect ourselves, it then becomes easier in a sense to protect our own way of life and our democracy and I doubt those words that you were quoting from one of those judgements would be uttered now, so I think the mood on this thing does change. But I will say to you because I feel this about the terrorism laws and you know we wanted to introduce laws before the Election on these issues, I say this in relation to some of the measures that I think we need to take in trying to get this fundamental and extreme ideology rooted out abroad, I feel that for several years we still have not woken up to what this thing is about and it is not going to, I suppose really what I was also trying to say in answer to some of those earlier Questions linking into Iraq or non-Iraq and all the rest of it, is that if we are not careful we will get into the thought process that says it is our behaviour that should change. If we did something different, these people would react in a different way. I don't believe that. I think this is a very, very extreme ideology, but it is an ideology. These are not isolated criminal acts and that is why I think when you look at the laws that we need, we need to take account of that in what we do and so far, and I am pleased at this, I think our country has held together very well, and the cross-community cohesion has been impressive, and I actually would pay tribute to the other political leaders who have in circumstances where they could have made mischief they haven't, they have behaved I think in an extremely responsible way. But one way of making sure we keep together is to make sure that the laws that I think the country would regard as the minimum necessary are actually passed and are then upheld.

Question:

It is not the first time you meet the leaders of the Muslim community in the last couple of years, Prime Minister, but it was the first time you meet them during the presence of other leaders of the parties. Have you discussed at any stage, either today or last week, with both leaders the way to help Muslims to integrate through the political process, especially when we see that the only party, which is the Labour Party, have Members of Parliament, unlike the others. The other point is that in Arab and Muslim countries, usually governments keep an eye on what kind of speeches are given by Imams during Friday prayers, do we expect such a decision to be taken to keep the same procedure in this country?

Prime Minister:

I don't think I will go into how we attempt to keep our eye on what is happening within particular communities or where we believe there may be a problem, but obviously like other countries we do look at that very, very carefully. In respect of the Muslim community, obviously we do have four Labour Members of Parliament, and I know the other political parties want to make sure that they have Muslim Members of Parliament too, and indeed I think did have candidates standing at the last election. You see I think that Shahid Malik in what he has said, and his colleagues, have put this thing in the right way, which is that it is necessary to go out and have this debate in the Muslim community. And let me just say, because I know again there has been some criticism that the people we saw were either too narrow, or they are the elders of the community and so on, look I am under no illusion at all that you have got to get right into the entrails of the community in order to do this properly, it is just you have got to start somewhere, and that is where we started. But I want to see over the coming weeks and months groups of mainstream Muslims who are going to come together and actually go in and take these arguments on. But I think it would be, and I would just say this again, it is going to be important to condemn it at every level and to deal with the warped teaching that pulls these people into this type of extremism, because otherwise what happens is that you create a sort of water in which these extremists swim, and you don't need just to deal with the extremists themselves, you have got to deal with that water and that culture within which they swim. But I meet you know every single day, and I did again at a reception last night in Downing Street for people from community workers who came, and there were several people who were Muslims there who just came up to me, and I find this especially strongly incidentally with Muslim women who come up and say look we want to be part of this, because we know that these extremists aren't going to help us at all. And I think that the important thing always to emphasise is that like anything else there will be a decent mainstream majority there that abhors both the ideas and the aims of these people, but we have got to mobilise those people and also mobilise them as role models as well. And the other thing that we want to do is to make sure for example that you do, particularly in the areas where there may be difficulties, get young Muslim men and women into the police service, you know make them part of the actual policing of the community.

Question:

Zaki (phon) here touched on the issue of integration in these communities, which we have heard a lot about, but obviously one feature of what happened on July 7 particularly was that these men grew up in the UK. And in your meetings over the past two weeks with people from various communities, from law enforcement and from some of the Muslim communities, have you come up with any understanding as to how people who grew up here, received their education here, enjoyed cricket, enjoyed so much about British life could have turned on their own people?

Prime Minister:

Well that is a good point. I think that you can have some understanding of this, but that is why I return to the point I tried to make in the speech I made a week last Saturday gone, and tried to make again today. You see the difficulty with this is there are obviously certain things that we have to do as governments and an international community to try and take away legitimate causes upon which these people pray. I don't accept they really care about these causes, the perpetrators of this ideology, but for example one of the reasons why I said post-September 11, and I have said all the way through, and I have tried to encourage happen is that you do need to make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, it is an important part. There is a legitimate concern over that, it doesn't in my view in the slightest justify suicide bombing or terrorism, but there is a legitimate concern about that and you have to deal with it. The reason I have often said in respect of Africa and global poverty, it is important to deal with these things, not that they justified it, not that many of these terrorists are actually poor, they are often not, but that it is important that you take away any shred of ability that they have got to use issues. But the other thing you have got to do, and this I think is the weakness of our approach so far, is you have got to confront them head on on the ideas. Again this is very difficult to say, but I want to say it to you nonetheless, people have got to be prepared to go into the Muslim community and say, what you are saying about America is rubbish. Now that is difficult because look, there are lots of people, there are people who write things in this country saying America has an evil foreign policy and all the rest of it, look leave aside whether it is right or wrong, American foreign policy or not, or British foreign policy, America is not acting to suppress Islam. People who are Muslims in America, or Muslims in this country, are entitled to worship. We have got to confront this in a more fundamental way, otherwise what happens is, and as I say I know this is a difficult thing to say but it has to be said I think otherwise you don't get to grips with this properly, we have got to be prepared to confront the ideas of these people as well as their means, their ends as well as their means. If you don't do that, you never get to the heart of this, because what will always happen is that there will be people there who, if it is accepted as a matter of course, yes of course Israel shouldn't exist, yes American foreign policy is evil, yes what happened in Iraq or Afghanistan was designed to suppress Islam, if people accept those as ideas it is far less of a step into the extremism of terrorism. If you challenge the ideas, you challenge it at its roots, and if you want to deal with the root causes of this you have got to do that, as well as as I say the other things like the Middle East peace process, like showing that we care and are compassionate about people less fortunate than ourselves. In other words what I have tried to say since September 11 is that you need a whole approach to this, you need to put it altogether and then go after it with far greater vigour, I have to say, than I think the world has been prepared to do so far.

Question:

Prime Minister, I have two Questions for you. Number one is, despite the best efforts by Britain and the United States, Osama bin Laden, al Zarqawi and their colleagues are still at large, and the activities of al Qaeda are going on unabated. So can you please comment on your failure. Why did you not catch them, and did you not get enough support or cooperation from the concerned countries? My second Question is that President Musharraf has asked Britain to correct ... of blaming Pakistan, and he also asserted that the militant organisations ... should be banned in Britain so their activities would be confined.

Prime Minister:

Well I think it is important that Britain and Pakistan work on these issues together, and obviously I welcome the moves that Pakistan has taken against some of these extremist schools, and again this is something we have to deal with. Look if over a prolonged period of time, and this goes back many years, young people are having this extremism inculcated into them, poured into them, and with you know a teaching about Islam that is fanatical and extreme, then I don't think we can be surprised that some of them at least end up becoming extremists prepared to kill people. And in respect of the rest of it, on Bin Laden and al Zarqawi, we do whatever we can, but as you know it is difficult in that border area of Pakistan to be absolutely sure, but we try and take whatever action we can all the time to hunt them down. But I think one has again got to be realistic about this, this is deeper than two individuals.

Question:

Prime Minister, you and Mayor Ken Livingstone and lots of people keep urging Londoners to carry on with their daily lives, almost as if nothing has happened. While we accept your need for security, we are all targets now. What do you say to Londoners who do feel nervous? And at the very least, whilst they might still be using the tube, their attitude towards it is very different.

Prime Minister:

Well I totally understand that, and of course people are going to be worried and concerned, and I know this myself from talking to people, of course they are going to be and it would be utterly unnatural if they weren't. All I am trying to say, and I think the Mayor is trying to say the same thing, is that insofar as it is possible we have got to lead our lives. You know I always think it is a good idea, if your enemy wants you to do something, that you don't do it. What are the three things that our enemy - in this case this terrorism - wants us to do: one, to stop living our lives as normal, so insofar as is possible, and of course recent events changed things to a certain extent, we should try to go about our business as normal; two, they want to divide the community, pit Muslim against non-Muslim, we shouldn't do that; and three, turn round and say it is all our own fault, not somebody else's, not theirs, and we shouldn't do that either. Do you see what I mean? So I am not standing here and being absurd about it in the sense of saying people shouldn't be concerned and worried, of course they are going to be concerned and worried, but I do think the way that London has responded has been magnificent, not because people haven't been worried and concerned, that would be absurd, of course they are, but because they have not allowed their worry and concern to overcome their determination to carry on with their lives, and I think that is the best attitude.

Question:

You said earlier that you wanted to encourage a cross-community cohesion and have more integrated communities. Why then are you so keen to forge ahead with faith schools, and can you point to anywhere, either in Britain or in any other part of the world, where segregated education leads to more integrated communities?

Prime Minister:

In respect of faith schools, we have got to be very clear that if you start saying that Muslims can't have faith schools, you should say that Catholics or Protestants shouldn't, or Jewish people shouldn't.

Question:


Inaudible.

Prime Minister:

Oh yes well that is fine, OK guys, but actually I don't personally agree with that. Some may, but I don't.

Question:

If you want a more integrated community, why not?

Prime Minister:

I can feel a sort of murmuring here. You are about to speak at the back there, Mike, aren't you?

Question:

That is correct, we are asking why not ....

Prime Minister:

Well let me tell you why not.

Question:

So give me one good answer.

Prime Minister:

I don't say you will get a good answer, but you will get the answer that I can give. I think it is perfectly consistent with a society being integrated and us being a multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious society for people to desire to have their children educated with the values of their own faith, and I think there is nothing wrong in that at all. And quite apart from anything else, if I might give you a bit of Realpolitick, if I ended up standing here and saying we were going to get rid of, and you can't just say Muslim schools because that really would be unfair. Presumably you are saying we should get rid of Catholic and Protestant schools too?

Question:

You are in a bind here, you are in an historic bind, which we all understand, but it is a real bind here and Catherine's Question, it doesn't help. We know you have got a Realpolitick problem, but it doesn't help.

Question:

... should have got rid of Catholic and Protestant schools in Ireland, he said so two weeks ago that it was a mistake, but perhaps you are going to tell us where they have been good for a community.

Prime Minister:

Well when he was First Minister he was pushing that with full vigour was he? I think not probably. But actually I am sorry, I am being slightly glib about it. Let me answer it in a different way. My own children have been educated in faith schools and I don't think that they do, if they are part of the proper school system, which they are and which the Muslim faith schools are as well, that they do actually teach children to look at children of other faiths in a bad way. Indeed what is interesting is some of the Muslim faith schools will have non-Muslims in them, and so will some of the other faith schools. The reason why parents often like their children, if they are being educated in the state education system, to be educated in a faith school is that there is a very strong sense of ethos and values in those schools. Now they are not, and I can speak from our own experience of Catholic schools, they are not taught in contra distinction to other religions or even to other parts of the Christian religion. And sometimes I think, if I may say this, with a Muslim faith school it is better to have a formal Muslim faith school than to end up, which you can have in certain communities, actually de facto you get people of one faith in one particular school but without any of the safeguards and the involvement of responsible people around it. So that is my answer to that and I don't really think it is an answer to dealing with this problem, I have got to say, even if it doesn't meet with your approval, which it obviously doesn't. I hadn't realised that you all felt so strongly.

Question:

Aside from perhaps the Question of scale, as you see it what is the difference between this terror campaign and an equally viscous and ruthless one conducted by the IRA between the '70s, '80s and '90s? And are you not in danger of unlearning the civil liberties lessons of the last 30 years? And just to close, how are you in your efforts to bring the IRA's current terror campaign to a conclusive end?

Prime Minister:

We just have to keep working on that and we are working on it the whole time. Sometimes I think it is invidious to make comparisons with one type of terrorism and another. Terrorism is wrong, full stop. I think it is wrong, the killing of innocent civilians, and what I am about to say now does not in any way mitigate against what I have just said. I totally condemn the IRA terrorism that there has been over the past decades, but I don't think you can compare the political demands of Republicanism with the political demands of this terrorist ideology we are facing now. The political demands of Republicanism are demands that would be shared by many perfectly law abiding people who are Nationalists in the north, or citizens of the south in Ireland. These demands of this terrorist ideology are demands, it is not that they don't have demands, they are just none that any serious person could ever negotiate on, and that is just an end to it.

And I think there is another difference which I noted, this is the reason why September 11 for me was the time when policy had to change definitively. I hope you don't misrepresent or misunderstand what I am about to say, but I don't think the IRA would ever have set about trying to kill 3,000 people. 3 people is wrong, 1 person is wrong, don't misunderstand what I am saying, but I think the difference with this terrorism is that the combination of modern technology and the willingness to kill without limit makes this an appreciably different threat, because these people when they killed over 50 people on the London underground and on the bus, they would have preferred 500 to 50, and that is the difference with them. And in America if it had been 30,000 and not 3,000 they would have preferred that. And one of the reasons why, and I can refer you back to the speech I made I think in March 2004 where I explained how whether people liked it or not, or agreed or not with the decision on Iraq, my entire thinking changed post-September 11 is that belief that you have a different form of terrorism, it is not to say that you justify any sort of terrorism, but it is different, I think it is different in its political demands and most essentially it is different in the way that it operates and in the numbers of people it is prepared to kill.

Question:

Prime Minister, you talk of needing to deal with the extremism which breeds extremism, and you are talking a great deal today about 9/11. All but one of the suicide bombers was Saudi. President Karzai will have told you last week that the money, the material, the training, much of it that is destabilising Afghanistan now is Saudi. The Iraqi suicide bombers are in large measure Saudi. One of the London bombers, police report, spent three months "training" in Saudi, and Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch have over the decades reported the extremism, and that is no strong word, of the Saudi administration, particularly where it pertains to the rights of women, but of many people within the Saudi population. It could be argued that Saudi extremism has bred extremism. You decided to stop off in Saudi Arabia on your way to the Olympic decision in Singapore. Did you address the nature of the Saudi regime and its continuing extremism, or were you there to broker another British defence deal?

Prime Minister:

I most certainly did raise the issues to do with change in Saudi Arabia, which we need. I think it is wrong incidentally to say that it all comes out of Saudi Arabia, in a sense it would be easier to deal with if it did, but it doesn't. And I think the Jihadists who are coming into Iraq, or trying to get into Afghanistan or elsewhere, come from many different parts of the world. But you are right in this point, and let me come back to it again because again it is a point I have made many times over many years, and it is why it was right for the Americans to bring forward what they called the greater Middle East initiative, but it was widely condemned by lots of people as trying to impose western democracy on Arab countries. I believe our ultimate protection lies in the spread of democracy and human rights, because I don't think this is western, I think it is just human, I think people prefer to live in a democracy than either a secular dictatorship or the dictatorship of some religious fanatic. But I go back therefore to the importance, what would be good, wouldn't it, would be to have a country in the Arab world that had come from a secular dictatorship and became a democracy, and that is why I would say to you that whatever people thought of the original decision to enter into the conflict in Iraq, or toppling Saddam, what has been going on for the last two years has been a completely different order of battle.

Question:

So what pressure are you putting on the Saudis? What help are they being in Iraq for example? They are not fighting there, but their suicide bombers are coming in to disrupt.

Prime Minister:

Again one of the things we discussed with them, to be fair to the Saudi regime, they have been doing their level best to stop people crossing over the border into Iraq, and one of the things I was discussing with them is how we strengthen what is a huge border, I have to say, between the countries. Don't be under any doubt at all that yes I personally hope and want to see change in Saudi Arabia, I do all over the Middle East, but don't be in any doubt either that at the moment there are many people I am afraid within Saudi who think that the present regime has been too liberal on some of these issues. Now that may seem surprising to us, but I think one has got to look back on the history of seeing how these things develop. But in the end that is why I have put all this together, and that is why again for example it is important, and I hope we can announce over the next week or so some details of this, that we get the right international cooperation and action on reclaiming Islam for mainstream Islam from these extremists and terrorists who completely pervert and warp its message. And that again is something that there are dimensions to this that don't fit normal politics, and we have got to be alive to those things too. So look I am not standing here as an apologist for the Saudi regime at all, all I am saying to you is that in the end if we want to go deeper, there are a whole set of issues out in the Middle East that need to be resolved to deal with this, and one is how you bring about a greater sense of democracy and human rights in the Middle East as a whole. Because you take what has happened in the Lebanon over the past few months, it is perfectly obvious to the Lebanese that they don't want to be under the thumb of Syria, they want to have their own democracy, and why shouldn't they? So all of these things have an aspect to them.

Question:

I have two Questions, if you don't mind, Prime Minister. The first one is I noticed at the beginning that the people who were asking about the issue of Iraq made to feel, and I feel that way, as if they were justifying what the terrorist has done. I think everybody has the right to Question the issue of Iraq and other issues, because one coalition went to Iraq, it did go with a lot of power, against the international law, but without vision of what was going to happen later on, and that is why what we are in Iraq has become a focus for terrorists. The second thing is I notice that you are trying to deal with this very difficult issue with terrorism with many countries in the Middle East, and some of your Ministers are describing some governments as a model in their fighting against terrorism when we know that this government are the roots of terrorism actually because they were with their oppression, with their head dresses, with their violation of human rights, with all kinds of behaviour they actually pushed their young people to become extremists, to run away from their own countries and to spread all over Europe looking for some kind of better life, better justice etc. Yes, you dealing with them as they are a model and you are trying to ask for their help.

Prime Minister:

Like which country Sir?

Question:

Many countries - Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, wherever, name them, all of them practically are the same, and unfortunately Saudi Arabia, as our friend was talking about. So I think the policies here have to change and the focus has to change into something else, to deal with this real thing. You have a lot of interests with these countries, it is true, you need to deal with them, with this government, but you cannot celebrate what they have done because what they have done was actually the root of terrorism, in my opinion.

Prime Minister:

First of all, let me make it absolutely clear, I am not suggesting anyone is justifying, none of these guys justify what the terrorists did, they abhor it as much as I do, and neither does anyone incidentally who says there may be a link with Iraq. That is not my case at all. My case is simply the roots of it go a lot deeper than that. But what you have just said is part of the debate we have got to have, and we have actually got to have it in the Arab world, because I will pick you up on two points that you have just made. The first is that you suggested that the problems in Iraq arose out of our failure to have a proper vision for what happened afterwards in Iraq. That is not what the problem is in Iraq. Look, we can debate about whether it was right or wrong to go to war in Iraq, and we can debate about the legality of the war in Iraq, that is a debate that we have had many times in this country. What cannot be debated is that at the moment, and for the last two years, the process in Iraq has been backed by the United Nations and the multinational force is there with the consent of the United Nations, and the Iraqi government, and what is more for the first time ever in their history 8 million Iraqis were able to go out and vote. That is not the problem in Iraq today, the problem in Iraq are terrorists and insurgents, supporters of the old regime, who want to stop the country having a democracy. They know in December there are fresh elections, they know also that if those elections are successful it is going to be a problem for them. And the idea that somehow what is happening in Iraq today is the fault of the British and American forces, this is to turn the world on its head. What is happening there is that the process of democracy is being attacked by people who don't want it to happen.

And that brings me to the second point. You kind of suggest this, there are these regimes that we consider models, like Egypt, Algeria and so on, and it is the existence of those regimes that have driven these people into this type of terrorism. Look, the very thing I am saying to you, I have never suggested that they are models of democratic government at all, indeed the reason why I so strongly supported the recent announcement by the President of Egypt that he wanted to have a democratic election for the Presidency of Egypt was precisely because I think the political systems in those countries have got to change. And what do they do? - they go and kill a whole lot of innocent people in Sharm el Sheikh. Now the point that I am making to you is, yes it is true, part of the roots of this lie in the way that the Middle East has developed oppressive systems of government, but we should help those oppressive systems become democratic. What we shouldn't do is allow these people, who don't object to these regimes because they are not democratic, al Qaeda is not a democratic organisation, it doesn't want to run these countries as democracies, it wants to run them as Taliban states, and what we should not do is allow legitimate concerns, which I share, about how these countries develop, turn into some, not justification because that is not what I am saying, but some cover of excuse for these people so that they can sort of say well look this is an oppressive regime in this country or that country, as if what they wanted to do was have a democracy with the rule of law. That is not what they want to do, all they would do is you would swap an oppression or a system of government that can change over time, because I believe these governments can change over time, for one that is more oppressive than anything anybody in this room could even contemplate. And the debate you have got to have in the Arab world is to get away from this notion that somehow the choice that you face is between some sort of secular dictatorship, which often finds itself trying to keep a lid on this extremism, and on the other hand religious fanaticism. Why don't we try and find a different way forward, which is that like other people in the world you elect your governments, and if you don't like your government you elect another one. That is what I am up for, and I want to try and work with those governments to change the situation, but we are not going to be able to do that if, as would happen at the moment, and this is the worry of the people in Egypt, as they try to move towards democracy what do these people do, they try and cause chaos by killing innocent people. So do you see what I mean? And I understand the argument that you are making, but I think this argument needs to be taken on I am afraid, because I don't think in the end it is really the answer to it.

Question:

More of the same I am afraid Prime Minister. Your language has been very tough this morning, and some people will agree and some people disagree, but among those who disagree will be those who say hang on a minute, he still pulls his punches on residual political violence by the IRA, and there will be others who say that if 9/11 was a wake up call, why didn't Mr Blair follow the precedence created by the French government, which had bombings on the tube in the mid-'90s, a lot of experience of Islamic fundamentalism, far more Muslims than we have got, 7 or 8%, and sent the special security service into the neighbourhoods and cracked down on subversive Imams and deported lots of them, and so on and so forth. Whereas instead they all say we have countenanced Londonistan, if that is the word, and we have passed legislation which has made it impossible to extradite some of these hooligans, and we have stopped embarkation controls so we don't know whether that young Brazilian should have been in this country or not, and we have even got self-styled human rights lawyers using your legislation to go ambulance chasing in Basra. Surely some mistake?

Prime Minister:

What was the first part of it again? I am sorry, I mean that genuinely.

Question:

I know you do, and my Questions are too long. But you know you have talked tough today.

Prime Minister:

There was another bit - the IRA.

Question:

Well forget about the IRA, let's talk about the others. Though it is true.

Prime Minister:

Well it is not really.

Question:

We know why you do it too, but the fact is your uncompromising language does not fit easily with the fact that political realities, real politick as you put it, of having to deal at some level with terrorists. These terrorists have real demands too. The IRA wanted us out of Ireland and a lot of these people just want us, rightly or wrongly, out of the Middle East, out of Islam, and everybody in this room knows that, except you, apparently they do, they do, many of them have negotiable demands.

Prime Minister:

No, no, I think I did say that they had negotiable demands.

Question:

No you didn't, you said you couldn't deal with them, they were impossible.

Prime Minister:

No, I think what I said, and I said this again in my speech, but I will send you the words of it, is that they do indeed have demands, but they are not demands any sensible person can negotiate on, I think that is what I said. And the reason for negotiating with the IRA is nothing to do with terrorism, the reason for being prepared to enter into a dialogue with Republicanism is because you do have a demand that is, I may agree or disagree with it, but you can hardly say it is a demand that no sensible person can negotiate on, it is a demand that is shared by many of our citizens in the north. So I genuinely think that is different. As for the other point, I would just remind you that I have actually been trying over these past few years to pass tougher legislation on a lot of these issues, and I hope we can now get this legislation done. And it is not actually, I think this is sometimes something people hide behind, the fact is that other countries manage perfectly well, consistently with human rights, to expel people who are inciting hatred in our country. I mean all European countries are all part of the same European Convention on Human Rights, and it is nothing to do actually with the European Union, it is to do with the Council of Europe, so there is no reason why we shouldn't be in that position.

Question:

And judges and lawyers, fellow lawyers?

Prime Minister:

That is very unfair - but true. There has been a debate about whether this is something we really need to act in a very fundamental way and respect of, or not. You still have people who write well these are isolated criminal acts, or they are just criminals. Anyway I hope very much now things can change. I would just point out that on the embarkation controls, it wasn't us actually that got rid of them.

Question:

In your list of measures on the domestic front you didn't mention plea bargaining for suspected terrorists. It has been reported that plea bargaining is one of the issues you are looking at, is that true? And also quickly on Iraq, what would you say to Robin Cook who suggested at the weekend that a timetable for withdrawal would demonstrate that we do not wish to occupy indefinitely Iraq?

Prime Minister:

On plea bargaining, I am not entirely sure of the situation here. I know there have been concerns raised about it, I don't see why they should be different actually from any other type of offence, but maybe I can get back to you on that. As far as I am aware it is not one of the specific things that we are looking at, but let me just check on that with you. It may be that there have been some concerns expressed by the police as to what procedures they follow in respect of terrorist cases, but I will need to check that.

First of all, as I have said earlier, we shouldn't change one single bit of any policy in response to terrorism, that is a disastrous signal to send out. But secondly, everybody knows, I mean everybody knows who wants to listen, that the purpose of British troops in Afghanistan or in Iraq is to help those countries and those troops are there with the support of the elected governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now we know we need to build up their own security forces so as to allow us to draw down, that is the whole purpose of what we are doing, but we certainly shouldn't do it in response to a terrorist attack, I think that would be a pretty grim signal.

Question:

You mentioned earlier that you woke up after September 11, many other people didn't. It is intriguing to know who you have in mind there, though I feel certain you are not going to tell us, but doesn't this make a case for an independent commission, like the Americans have, not to do a witch hunt, not to do a blame game, but to look at each strata of our apparatus, the legal system, the security forces, the politicians, and work out whether we are as prepared as we should be for the new era of home grown terrorism that you find yourself in?

Prime Minister:

Well I think the lessons of this is there is a continual process of iteration where you try and learn the lessons of it, and that is what we will do. Whether you have some formal process or not, I am not in a position to make a decision about now. I think the only thing you don't want to do, and I really feel this very powerfully, with the security services and police at the moment is to go and pull their attention into some commission rather than get on with the job. But I didn't mean to sound sort of arrogant, or I am the only person who can see this, I don't mean that at all, but I do mean that there has been a Question over a long period of time about what is the nature of this threat, and the reason why I am and have been so passionate about it is that it is still there and the very networks and the means of trying to proselytise this extremism are still there. And the point is that we need to, at every single level, deal with the issues arising out of it. That is all I am saying and I am not criticising anybody. And of course what happens with anything terrible, and this is why it is a different type, I do call it a war, other people don't, but whether you call it a war, a battle or whatever you want to call it, I think this is a different type of fight or struggle, because by its very nature something terrible will happen, and then maybe nothing happens for a period of time, and what happens then is that the natural process of human reflection comes back into play and people think about other things, other issues dominate the headlines, and all of that is perfectly natural, and that is why it is quite hard, it is not like every day there is a report coming on this is the state of it and all the rest of it, and that is why it requires a different method of dealing with it, and that focus I think is quite hard to keep.

Question:

Sir, could you kindly bring us up to date on the status of the investigation and the extent to which you feel that it was a home grown plot or had international links? And second, whether or not you have made any determination whether the attack of July 7 and the attempted attack of last Thursday were operationally or inspirationally linked?

Prime Minister:

I think I had better just refer you to what the police and what the others have said about that. Any information we have I think is more or less there. Obviously we are examining very carefully the links between July 7 and July 21. I don't think it is very sensible for me to add to whatever the police may have said on it, if you don't mind. I am sorry about that.

Question:

And was it home grown or had operational or inspirational links?

Prime Minister:

Inspirational and operational are two different things. I think there is no doubt at all that in terms, as I say, of the roots of this, it is obviously a lot deeper than anything that is happening in this country. And what was interesting when the French Prime Minister was here yesterday was his recognition that this is there everywhere in Europe. And again I think in last year's conference speech I tried to say that if you go and look at where this is coming from, it probably originates out of the Middle East, but there are issues to do with Pakistan, as we discussed earlier, there are issues to do with other countries where these people can train or be given instruction in this type of extremism, and obviously the inspiration as it were for it comes from outside of this country.

Question:

Sir Ian Blair has confirmed this week that there is what he calls now a shoot to kill to protect policy for armed police in Britain to deal specifically with the new threat of suicide bombers, and that that new policy was introduced in the wake of 9/11 in early 2002. The Home Office has confirmed that Ministers were made aware of that change of policy. Were you made aware of it and do you think that Parliament should have been made aware of it, because there are some Labour MPs and those in the Muslim community who feel that such a significant change in the way that British policing works requires wider debate.

Prime Minister:

I am not very sure of the history of this myself and I honestly can't, off the top of my head, tell you whether it ever came across my desk. But I think there is a slight danger here that we sort of over-conceptualise this. I think what the police are doing is very, very simple, they are saying in circumstances where somebody may be a suicide bomber you take no risks, and that is a sensible policy and I think the public will support it. How you describe that policy, I think sometimes it can be described in a more lurid way than it deserves because it is basically very simple, they should take whatever measures are necessary to try to protect the public. And if you are dealing with someone who you think may be a suicide bomber then obviously the important thing is that they are not able to set off the bomb, and it is as simple as that. It is more a sort of common sense response to the situation rather than some great change of policy, and off-hand I can't remember whether I have ever had a discussion about it, but if the police had ever talked to me about it I would have agreed with what they said because I think it is the only sensible way to deal with this situation.

Question:

It is not a matter for parliament then, it is simply an operational matter, it is not something that parliament needs to discuss beforehand?

Prime Minister:

I can get someone to get back to you on the exact status of this, but it is actually to do with the police saying what do you do if you have got a potential suicide bomber, and in those circumstances I think the public understands the police can't take risks, and we have got to support them in that. And of course what happened, as I said yesterday, was a terrible tragedy, but nonetheless I think most people believe that the police should, and we will support them in taking the measures necessary.

Question:

I just want to return to a comment you made earlier, you said if someone is inciting terrorism in this country, sorry go and do that elsewhere. But the criticism of your government has been precisely that you didn't say that for many years, and this is the phrase Londonistan as it is being called, of Mosques that have allowed open incitement, and at times even ... have been things we have all heard as reporters, we went to these Mosques, for years. Do you accept the criticism of your government that comes not only from the opposition, but also from members of the Muslim community, moderate members of the Muslim community, and foreign leaders like in Pakistan, that there was a mistake made here, a failure to address a growing extremism and a recruitment pool for militancy.

Prime Minister:

I think it is very important though to understand that actually we have been trying to get rid of these people. Now I am afraid occasionally what has happened is we have tried to get rid of them, and we have been blocked. Now I think we should go back and make sure that we do try to remove these people, because I don't think there is any public sympathy for them at all, and I do think, and this is why I want to toughen the law in respect of incitement, because some of these people will be British nationals, so you can't deport a British national obviously, but you do need to make sure that they can't incite or preach this. And I think there has been too great a caution in simply saying I am sorry this is unacceptable, we are going to deal with it.

Question:

Who blocked you exactly, and why?

Prime Minister:

Well you can go back over the court cases and read them, but anyway I think it is important we recognise that there is a different mood today.

Question:

Some politicians in this country, and others abroad, have differentiated between suicide bombers attacking in this country, suicide bombers in Madrid etc, and those who try to perpetrate the incidents in Israel, they have almost excused it. One politician in this country for example has said that the Palestinians have nothing else to promote their cause but their bodies. What action, what message have you got for those? And inter-related with that, the change of law you are promoting, will that also deal with not only incitement in this country, but those people either here or elsewhere who incite those who cause suicide bombings in the Middle East, and specifically in Israel. And related to the Middle East peace process, you heard yesterday of the problems on the disengagement process, and specifically the ongoing terrorism, what can you as the Chair of the G8, the President of the EU at the moment, do to make sure that when disengagement does take place there is not going to be ongoing terrorism from Gaza from people that want to see the destruction of Israel?

Prime Minister:

On the latter point, Jerry, the most important thing is that in the work that is done after disengagement, not just by the Palestinian Authority but also by General Ward, that we make sure that those who are engaged in terrorism, or are prepared to engage in terrorism, are confronted and dealt with, because otherwise it will upset the whole peace process, not simply for the sake of people in Israel but for the sake of the Palestinians who need to be able to show, once disengagement happens, that in those parts where the disengagement has occurred that the Palestinian Authority is moving in with the right infrastructure of government and support for people.

On the point about incitement abroad, look I don't approve of people inciting suicide bombing anywhere, and I want to make one thing very, very clear, because I think this is important. Suicide bombing is wrong, whether it is in Israel, or London, or New York, or in any part of the Middle East or anywhere, it is wrong, period. And the fact is that there is another way that people can make progress in the Middle East, we are trying to do it, we are trying to help people make progress in the Middle East. The way forward is to stop the terrorism and then get into a negotiation, and this is why I think it is so pernicious, this terrorism, and why you have got to take it on head on in all its aspects. It is just a lie when they say that people have got no option but to engage in terrorism. They do have an option. That is why I have fought hard to get the road map adopted, to try and get a process under way. Now we all may have our criticisms of the state of Israel, on the policy of the government of Israel from time to time, but the fact of the matter is we have got an international engagement that can allow us to have two states - Israel confident in its security, an independent democratic viable Palestinian state. Now the only way that we can get this done is to push that political process forward, and terrorism tries to stop us doing that. And there is another point which I think is very, very important, because again this is important that we confront those, look I think I know who you are referring to and I have got every support for the way that the Mayor has handled things in London, I think he has actually done a very good job, but I have to say I profoundly disagree with him on this issue. And one of the things I think is important as well, and I think this is very, very important within the Muslim community, the legitimate representative of the Palestinian Authority is President Abbas, he was elected, listen to what he says about terrorism, he is against it. The legitimate representative of the Afghan people is the President they elected, President Karzai, he is against these people. The legitimate representative of the Iraqi people are the people who are in government now, born out of the Iraqi elections, they are the legitimate representatives. And one of the things that we have got to do is to stop this sort of temporising or compromising with people who say they are speaking on behalf of Muslims in these countries, when actually the people that the people are electing, because this is what happens in elections, is people tend to elect moderate people.

Question:

Will the British law, will your plan also include those who want to incite people in Israel?

Prime Minister:

I think I said yes, didn't I? Abroad, yes of course. Look in my view it should mean that nobody incites terrorism, here or anywhere else. You can't say that terrorism is justified in one country but not in another.

Question:

Could I just ask on the police powers Question, it is only 2 years since you increased the power to detain without charge from 7 - 14 days. When they came in just the other day with a request that you increase that to 3 months, what was your gut instinct, did you get a liberal twitch somewhere?

Prime Minister:

There are those liberal twitches occasionally, I may say.

Question:

And have they presented you with compelling evidence that they need these extra powers.

Prime Minister:

I actually didn't have a gut instinct about it all, to me it is a perfectly obvious balance between the liberties of the subject and what the police need. The reason that they have asked for this, and for an extension of the 14 days, is specifically arising out of operations, I won't go into the details of them, where they have found the 14 days an inhibition and a problem. Now I am not saying that we are going to do this, I am saying we investigate it, because they have made this request, we will have a look at it, you would obviously have to have some form of judicial oversight, but my basic posture on this is to support the police and security services unless there are good reasons for not doing so. Now there may be, or there may be other ways we can deal with it, but we have to look very carefully at any proposal that they make, and they have specifically made this proposal arising out of specific operational difficulties.

Question:

Prime Minister, Iraq's top Shia cleric warns of genocidal war in Iraq. Do you agree with that, and I think it is worth mentioning here that he is considered to be a very reliable source and was widely quoted before by a top politician in London and Washington.

Prime Minister:

We have got to make sure that it doesn't happen, I don't think that people in Iraq want it to happen, they obviously don't want it to happen, they wouldn't have come out and voted, over 60% of them, in the election. But if I could just go back to the point that I have made, what is happening in Iraq today? What is happening is the country is trying to get a democracy, we are trying to help them, and these people are trying to stop them. That is why I have never quite understood, even if people thought it was completely wrong to have got rid of Saddam, how you can have two sides on this one. There is only one side, it is the side of the people wanting a democracy. Yes of course that is what they want to do, what they want to do everywhere, the people who expound this terrorist ideology, they want to divide us. That is why I don't even agree actually Michael that in the end they just want us out of Arab countries, they don't, it is far more fundamental than that, they want a war between Islam and other religions, that is what they want, that is why they keep to referring to this as the crusader Zionist alliance and all this sort of rubbish. That is what they want, they want a situation in which we end up being divided. They would have loved it here if there had been huge tensions immediately between the Muslim community and the non-Muslim community, and that is why we have got to work the whole time at them not getting what they want because most people don't want to live in such a society, and the tragedy of Iraq is that obviously Iraq is potentially a very wealthy, very successful country, and its people are immensely industrious, hard working, capable, clever people, they are known as that. The trouble is that 4 million of them had to go into exile over Saddam and at the moment these people are trying to make damned sure they can't come back and help the country on its feet.

And that is why I keep saying to people, and I think part of the problem in all of this is that people sort of feel that if they are backing what we are trying to do in Iraq now, that somehow that means they have got to reverse their position on the wisdom of having gone into the conflict in the first place. They don't. I totally accept there are two different views of what I would call that conflict in Iraq in toppling Saddam, but the truth is we toppled Saddam in, whenever it was, two years ago. That is not the problem today. Look I think in the end, I think if the foreign Jihadists were shut down in Iraq I think the rest of it could be dealt with, because I think there are people, even on the fringes of this in Iraq, who in the end want the best for their country, it is just a completely mistaken way of going about it in my view, but the trouble with these foreign Jihadists is they have an absolutely clear strategy, and one of the other things it is important to keep emphasising about these people because I think this is again a delusion that we have about them, is that they don't have a very clear view of tactics and strategy. They do. Look at those websites. That is not propaganda lacking in tactical or strategic intelligence, it is very carefully aimed at people, it is aimed to inflame, and to draw out people's prejudices and to encourage people to feel that they are in some great war of civilisations. And that is why the moment this democracy started to take root in Afghanistan and Iraq, they have got extremely worried about it, of course they do, because it would be rather hard, wouldn't it, to have your website saying this is all about suppressing Islam if you had two democratic countries that were Muslim and its people getting on with life and enjoying material benefits and making progress. It is quite a hard thing then to go and use that as a recruiting tool, so they have got to stop us, so we have got to stop them. That is what it is about now in those two countries, whatever originally it was about.

Question:

Inaudible.

Prime Minister:

No I don't. I was talking to someone from Iraq yesterday, the dangers there are obvious, but his view and my view is that actually people in Iraq still want to make this work.

Question:

You have talked a lot about confronting the ideology and challenging the ideas which are behind terrorism, you also mentioned earlier the possibility of looking at book shops and what is on the internet. How far can you, or should you, confront those ideas beyond what is in existing law by telling people what they can and can't buy or read?

Prime Minister:

Well there are difficulties with that, but I think that where it crosses the line to incitement I think you are entitled to try and deal with that, although there are huge technical Questions. This is why I say these are issues that need to be worked out in trying to deal with the Internet sites and so on. But we would consider it completely unacceptable if someone stood up and said that it is right to kill black people. I don't think it should be any different if people get up there and say it is right to kill Jews. So you have got to be very, very clear about this I think. But I think the point that I was really making was slightly different, which is that I still think - well I have said what I have said and I won't bore you with it again.

Question:

Have the police and security services asked you for more money, not just in the short term to deal with the immediate situation, but in the longer term to expand to deal with this threat? And assuming that there are now demands for cash now to deal with that, how are you prioritising things like say identity cards which you say might do some good in 10 years time, against more police out there now?

Prime Minister:

There is a sort of Bloomberg angle on this. Well look, everyone asks me for more money, there are no conversations I ever have when people don't say we need more resources. But I think that we have obviously said, and the Chancellor has said this, that they will get what resources they need, I think it is important that they do. I think you have got to do these things consistently. Again I think there will be a chance to have a better and more informed debate about identity cards later. My view of that is that over a long period of time they are both necessary and will be in most countries inevitable given the type of situation we face, but you know you try to do it, it is like the electronic borders, which is also important. You have got to find the money for things that are necessary for your security, but obviously we have increased the resources available to our security services substantially and the amount of money we are spending, the amount of money every government in the world today, or western governments spend on additional security since September 11 is vast I am afraid, but that is the world we live in.

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