Monthly newsletter Edition 15 Sir Robert reports:- Page 1
The appalling catastrophe in the USA continues to resonate around the world and will do so for years to come. I offer my sympathy to all those who have lost relations and friends in this tragedy and vow to do whatever I can to assist in preventing this happening again. Like everyone else, I was fixated by the live television coverage of the horror but eventually left for the Foreign Affairs Committee - of which I am a member - where the situation was discussed at length, resulting in a Motion of complete support for the USA. Subsequently an Emergency Session of the Parliament was convened and some moving tributes and forceful commitments were made. Time will tell whether spines will be quite so stiff when difficult actions actually have to be taken. Perhaps I am too cynical but, after years in politics, I know only too well that "fine words butter no parsnips".
As a former Northern Ireland Minister, I have been a terrorist target and have also had to stand before a television camera surrounded by the wreckage of a terrorist incident. There is no doubt in my mind, therefore, that every action conceivable must be taken to eradicate this scourge of the free world, its perpetrators and its sources. But it must be a targeted and specific campaign and it must work.
My other Committee - Transport - is already considering the implications for aviation within Europe. This terrorism may have been sophisticated in its planning but was essentially simple in implementation, given the known laxity of security on US domestic flights. It appears that it required less than a score of hijackers, armed only with makeshift knives, to capture four aircraft and aim them at high-profile targets. There will have to be a number of changes in the way that airlines and airports operate in future and a wide variety of physical and electronic checks will become the order of the day. There are bound to be greater delays and inconveniences for the foreseeable future and, whilst a balance must be struck between necessary security and civil liberties, air travel undoubtedly will become more complicated and less convenient.
So we have a new Leader and I offer my congratulations and support to Iain Duncan Smith on his victory. After an overly-protracted election campaign - the length of which needs review for the future - we have, as Party Members, all had the opportunity to vote for our choice. The various meetings throughout our Region, culminating in the joint hustings, allowed hundreds of Conservatives to hear and question the Candidates and to think hard about the future direction and strategy of our Party. It always used to be said that Loyalty was the Conservatives' secret weapon and now we must demonstrate that again as a reality. There must be no recriminations, no acts of revenge, no gloating, no flouncing out of the Party and no disloyalty. A refusal to follow this course of action will only ensure political oblivion and there is far too much to do in attacking and exposing a disastrous and fraudulent Labour Government for our Party to become a minority sect, obsessed only with itself.
Let us concentrate on the issues that the public really care about and develop policies that address the problems and provide Conservative solutions. That way offers the best chance of victory at the next Election. I shall continue to work in the Region and the European Parliament in the best interests of Party and Country, with a renewed determination to reconstruct and renew our Constituency Organisations and Resources.