The New Year got off to a tragic start with the terrorist murders of French journalists and policemen.
It has been widely reported that some within the BBC have suggested that the word ‘terrorist’ shouldn’t be used to describe the killers.
They are wrong. It was terrorism, they were terrorists and we should say so.
They were also people whose values and attitudes are completely out of step with those of this country and we should say that too.
The hard won freedoms that we all enjoy are not without restriction. That has always been the case, and remember that this country had blasphemy laws that were enforced with a vengeance.
Elsewhere in Europe they were enforced with an Inquisition. But the key word is ‘were’ – in the past, in a different time.
It does not mean that today religion isn’t respected but it does mean that when it isn’t there are limits on how we are entitled to react. People protested outside some of the cinemas that screened Monty Python’s parody of the story of Christ, but no one reacted to The Life of Brian by reaching for a Kalashnikov.
Religious belief is entitled to inspire passion; it is never entitled to incite violence.
On a different topic, I have been struck recently by the number of people who have approached me because they have got an idea which they hope will allow them to start up their own business but need to access finance or markets.
I am always happy to try and help either through introductions to banks or through access to government schemes – the same applies to established businesses. All I would ask for is a detailed business plan and a face-to-face discussion. It will always be in confidence but it is important and saves a lot of time in the long run.
When I was first elected businesses that got in touch wanted help to negotiate with HMRC because of tax and VAT problems. That hasn’t happened for some time – no doubt because the economy has picked up and order books are filling – and it’s nice to have a more positive type of problem to solve.
With my very best wishes for 2015.