Monday, May 22, 2006

Moving on - or trying to

I went on a course set up by the 7th July Assistance centre on Saturday, about finding strategies for moving on after the bombings. The campaigning for a public enquiry, supporting survivors, answering the many, many calls and emails from media representatives - which I pass onto the group (although I do a few, still, sometimes, if they specifically want to talk to me because of this blog or whatever) - takes up loads and loads of my time. Factor in writing, and my news addiction which is still slightly out of control, and my life is seriously out of balance. It isn't that healthy, and it is flipping exhausting. And I am getting married - not in September now, but next year - and there's my friends and family whom I don't see enough of. J's work, which is brutally hard and can keep him in the office for fifteen hours a day means that I am often alone in the evenings. Because I don't watch TV, just the news, I am too much online, and still too much caught up in the aftermath of the atrocities. It takes its toll and three serious chest infections and being signed off for a month with exhaustion and delayed PTSD has been a wake-up call. This is like having two jobs, two lives, and I want one job, one life, a balanced, healthy one that I am contented with.

So this weekend, I did not watch the news, did not buy the papers, and I wrote only of the party which my sister Anna hosted for the Eurovision Song Contest. I felt a bit guilty, but I have made a promise to myself and J, that I would do my best to claw back the normal life that I had before July 7th, and move on from being haunted by the ghosts of that rainy, terrible summer morning. J, too is trying to get more of a work-life balance resolved as well, though he may need to make further changes to accomplish this.

However, it is not possible to walk away just yet, because tonight I have a private meeting with the new Home Secretary, which was set up on the back of my Dad's meeting with the previous Home Secretary Mr. Clarke. At that meeting, Mr. Clarke responded to my questions about dialogue betweeen survivors and Government, and the public and Government, and the need for a public inquiry, by offering to meet Kings Cross United. Now, KCU has always been a non-political group, it is more of a virtual pub, a social network for people from one of the trains to keep in touch, which we do regularly, and many of us are now great friends. It isn't however, about lobbying for inquiries, or compensation increases or fairer policies - there are many within the group, myself included, who are political and do want these things - but I wanted the meeting with Dr. Reid to be for anyone affected by the bombings, not just KCU, and so, having established late last week that the meeting could be reinstated in the new Home Secretary's diary, I managed to tap into the wider networks of survivors through groups such as London Recovers.com, and make contact with bereaved families and survivors from other sites, including some very seriously injured people and tonight a representative group of about twenty people will go in and meet the Home Secretary, informally and privately.

Further meetings with Tessa Jowell and Dr Reid and various officials are also, I understand, planned, following our meeting with Tessa Jowell at the DCMS but this is one I set up myself and I am crossing my fingers that we can make our points, without anger, calmly but with conviction.

I have never said this is about blame. I have never said that this is about politics. It is far more important than blame or politics. It is about why July 7th happened, and what we can all do, talking together and learning together, to stop it happening again. I would like to look at not just the response on the day and after, not just what happened on the day and after, but to look at the background, the whole picture. I would like there to be a grown up debate about liberty and security, about anger and fear, about foreign and domestic policy, about exclusion and integration, religion and a secular society, multiculturalism and alienation and engagement, poverty and employment and what it means to be British today. I would like many voices to be heard.

This is a debate that affects all of us, isn't it? It shouldn't happen behind closed doors. It shouldn't be internal departments meeting secretly and in isolation. It doesn't just affect politicians and those directly impacted by July 7th. It's a debate about who we are and where we are going, together.

It's a debate that should be had by the public, about the public, for the public. Only then can we ALL move on. And then we might all have more understanding, and more confidence, and more hope about where we are all going together.

I just cannot understand why we cannot have an independent public inquiry. And that is what I will be saying tonight. And if we have to wait for a certain two trials to be over, so be it. And if we have to have certain bits of it behind closed doors, for defence of the realm reasons, so be it. But defeating terrorism involves learning, and analysing, and debating, and understanding, doesn't it? It involves all of us, doesn't it? So not to look at the day British people suicide-bombed British people in full, and in front of the British people makes no sense to me.

We are told by the Prime Minsiterthat ''the rules have changed''. Really? If they have changed so very much, then the Government has nothing to fear in presenting its case as to why the rules have changed, have they? If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear, we're told, as we prepare to carry ID cards - something that we only did before on a temporary basis when at imminent risk of massive ariel bombardment, gas attack and enemy invasion, for goodness sake.

Come on, let's be grown ups. Let's have this debate independently, publicly, freely.
700 injured. 56 dead. Every day the potential for another July 7th.
Every day in Iraq IS July 7th, for our soldiers and the people of that country.

If you agree with me and 700 others, including many survivors and bereaved - then you can sign the petition here.

UPDATE: Meeting the new Home Secretary for 2 hours; will try and report more later. We're now a little closer; for a negotiation opener, that was quite good. This is going to be a long fight, but he's engaging; this is not going away and I think, in 18 months, we'll be there.

BBC Update

5 Comments:

Blogger Holly Finch said...

good luck tonight..sorry i can't be there...& well done for a newless week end!...keep it up my dear
hxx

May 22, 2006 11:01 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel,

Start researching into the judges they may appoint to head the independent enquiry. The classic is to appoint Mr Justice Whitewash, a strong, independently minded judge. Who has a strong conviction, independently arrived at, that he needs a peerage. And a seat on half a dozen qunagos, when he retires.

The Anon

May 23, 2006 9:29 am  
Blogger Oscar Wildebeest said...

Saw you on the TV last night. As soon as your picture came up, I thought "that'll be Rachel" - and so it was. Looking forward to your report about the meeting; you sounded positive, but I wouldn't take the government's word about anything.

May 23, 2006 10:18 am  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

Things are starting to look more positive. Well done!

Dx

May 23, 2006 2:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What will a public enquiry achieve? Wouldn't that money be better spent helping the survivors. After all we know what caused it - the security services and police aren't allowed to function properly by their political masters. We had enough wake-up calls before that, like Richard Reid.
15 hrs a day - no job is worth that, for your own health (which is irreplaceable). It is also not fair on those who live with you.

May 24, 2006 5:55 pm  

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