It could have been much, much worse. So far as can be judged, the improvised device that caused dozens of casualties on a rush-hour tube train at Parsons Green was faulty, probably in its detonation mechanism.
Had it exploded as intended there would certainly have been many more injuries and, indeed, fatalities.
In that respect – but not necessarily any other – it was uncomfortably reminiscent of the 7/7 and, more particularly, the failed 21/7 attacks on London in 2005. Again, it is early to draw many definitive conclusions, but this device in a shopping bag and builder’s bucket is obviously not properly manufactured munitions, but homemade and, according to the early testimony of experts, in some respects comparatively sophisticated. Still, very little is known for sure; more will become clear as the forensics teams get to work on the remains of the bomb.
No government can prevent every terrorist getting through. However, they can plan for what happens when an attack does occur, and the authorities are now well-rehearsed. Firefighters responded within minutes, as did the police, and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which treated most of the victims, was also able to implement its major incident process. Cobra once again coordinated the various official bodies reacting to the attacks. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, the Metropolitan Police and the Prime Minister all struck the right balance between reassurance and vigilance. A higher-profile armed police presence will assist with that.
Wise not to repeat her “enough is enough” declaration, Theresa May is right to say she will redouble official efforts to fight extremism, wherever it comes from – and much of it is homegrown. In that respect the police are right to take action, in due course, against the racially motivated hate circulating on social media. Any backlash of hate crime has to be resisted and prosecuted. As we have seen so often before, the professionalism and bravery of the emergency services was peerless. We must assume that the Government’s decision, taken on advice from the security services, not to raise the terrorist threat level is correct.
Yet again, though, what was a day of concerted action and a mostly unified front against terror, Donald Trump chose to be at his offensive worst. He has done this before about a terror attack in London. Now, tweeting again with no great knowledge of the situation or background, he chose to patronise the British…