The Forgotten

As the nation remembers 7/7, Steve Beauchampe issues a reminder of an earlier terrorist attack.

On Tuesday the nation marked the tenth anniversary of the London transport bombings, which claimed the lives of 52 innocent people. It was a solemn and dignified affair, with a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral attended by members of the Royal Family including Prince William, Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior politicians, followed by a ceremony at the official memorial to the victims in Hyde Park.

Only the presence at St. Paul’s of Tony Blair, whose disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were cited by the bombers as major contributory reasons for their actions, sat ill at ease with the tone of the commemorations. There was also a national minute’s silence as well as intensive media coverage, including a critically acclaimed 80-minute drama shown by the BBC last Sunday.

A minute’s silence was also observed the previous Friday for the 30 British victims of the Tunisian beach attack, led by the Queen and Prince Phillip during a visit to Strathclyde University. Flags were flown at half-mast throughout the country whilst David Cameron announced that there would be a permanent memorial to the victims (along with a further one to the British victims of all terrorist attacks). Although locations for these have yet to be determined, they are likely to be either in London or at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire.

Compare this to the response to the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, seemingly all but air brushed out of history, certainly outside of this city and region. The two IRA bombs that exploded that November evening took the lives of 21 people and injured 182 more. To this tragedy was added the injustice of six innocent people being convicted of what was, until eclipsed by the bombings of July 2005, the biggest loss of life from a terrorist attack in England.

There has been no national one-minute silence, not on the first, tenth, twentieth or indeed any anniversary. There has been no national commemoration, no visit to the city from the Queen or any Prime Minister (present or past) and only a small and easily missed memorial to the victims, which was not paid for out of central government funds.

There has been no equivalent BBC documentary and hardly any ongoing national media coverage. There remains no attempt to find or identify the perpetrators, with those campaigning for an inquiry or further criminal investigation seemingly dismissed by many in authority as irritants.

So perhaps this November 21st David Cameron might give some meaning to his oft-heard blarney about heading a one-nation government, by visiting Birmingham, accompanied by a senior royal or two, laying a wreath in the grounds of St. Phillip’s Cathedral and observing a minute’s silence live in front of national television cameras. Following which he could instruct the police to re-open their inquiries into the crime.

Because if they can do as much for historical cases of child abuse that go back four decades and more, they can do it for the Birmingham pub bombings.

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