Tony Blair Makes Official Statement Over Terrorist Attacks
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As President Bush looks on, British Prime Minister Tony Blair makes a statement in Scotland before flying to London early Thursday.
updated 7/7/2005 8:32:48 PM ET 2005-07-08T00:32:48

For Prime Minister Tony Blair, the high of winning the 2012 Olympics was followed by the devastating low of deadly bombings in the heart of London. He rose to the occasion Thursday, delivering an almost Churchillian appeal for unity and vowing steadfastly to defeat terror and root out the perpetrators.

In a solemn rallying cry to the nation, Blair said it was “a very sad day for the British people, but we will hold true to the British way of life.”

While noting that those who committed the explosions “act in the name of Islam,” he stressed that “we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims here and abroad are decent and law-abiding people” who also abhor terror.

Blair was hosting a summit of G-8 leaders in Scotland when the attacks struck, killing at least 37 people on three subway trains and a bus. He rushed back to London, and after meeting with ministers and officials, delivered a televised address from 10 Downing Street.

Blair, dressed in a black suit, said the perpetrators of the attacks were using terrorism to express their values and “it is right at this moment that we demonstrate ours.”

“I think we all know what they are trying to do — they are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cower us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, of trying to stop us going about our business as normal, as we are entitled to do, and they should not, and they must not, succeed,” Blair said.

The prime minister’s somber tone was in stark contrast to the joy he expressed a day earlier as London was selected to host the 2012 Olympics.

A sure rhetorical touch
Blair has long shown a sure rhetorical touch in times of crisis. When Princess Diana died in 1997, the newly elected Blair delivered a memorable speech dubbing her the “people’s princess.”

Hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Blair vowed that Britain would “stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends in this hour of tragedy, and we, like them, will not rest until this evil is driven from our world.”

On Thursday, it was the turn of President Bush and other world leaders to express solidarity with Britain.

“The war on terror goes on. I was most impressed by the resolve of all the leaders in the room. Their resolve is as strong as my resolve. And that is, we will not yield to these people, will not yield to the terrorists,” Bush said.

“A band of fanatical criminals has made London and Britain pay a high price for hosting the G-8,” Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said at the summit. “Terrorism will not prevail if we stand united with determination.”

Blair has a talent for bouncing back from adversity. Just two months ago, he seemed to be a spent political force after British voters returned him to office for a third term but with a sharply reduced majority in Parliament.

But the chance to host the G-8 summit and his recent assumption of the rotating European Union presidency as the 25-nation bloc struggles for a direction appear to have reinvigorated him. And Blair’s poised performance Thursday once again proved he is a leader who thrives in times of crisis.

Harkening back to ‘blitz spirit’
In his address, Blair harkened back to the “Blitz spirit” that saw Londoners through the dark days of Nazi bombing during World War II — and, by association, to Winston Churchill, the wartime leader whose determined, moving speeches helped steel the national resolve.

“There will of course now be the most intense police and security service action to make sure that we bring those responsible to justice,” Blair said. “I would also pay tribute to the stoicism and resilience of the people of London who have responded in a way typical of them.”

He said Britain would show “by our spirit and dignity” that “our values will long outlast” the terrorists’.

“The purpose of terrorism is just that. It is to terrorize people and we will not be terrorized.”

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