Kenny MacAskill – 2020 Speech on the Reading Terrorist Attack

Below is the text of the speech made by Kenny MacAskill, the SNP MP for East Lothian, in the House of Commons on 22 June 2020.

On behalf of my party, I wish to start by expressing our sorrow at the lives that have tragically been lost and extending our deepest sympathies to the families and friends, and to those who are currently ill and recovering in hospital. It is never easy to lose a loved one, but especially not in these circumstances or in these times. I echo the Secretary of State’s comments regarding our gratitude to those who served and showed great courage, and we will continue to prosecute and investigate.

First, let me call for a calm response—to be fair, the Secretary of State has been clear on this. Sadly, we have had previous terrorist atrocities; it is a product of our time. We do not expect and should not have to live with it, but we have to recognise that they do occur and that we have to show calm judgment, not rush to an analysis or make a decision without knowing the full facts. Obviously, that has been commented on by you, Mr Speaker, as regards this being sub judice. There may very well be mental health or other aspects that we do not know about, and we await the outcome of an investigation. However, what we can be clear about—I seek the Secretary of State’s reassurance that we will make this clear—is that terrorist acts are not perpetrated by communities, but are carried out by individuals. They do not represent any faith, constituency or cause other than their own misguided, malevolent and wicked views, and we need to take that into account. We also need to remember that although we have suffered not just this recent tragedy but all too recent ones, including those involving Members very close to this House, what some people view as the epicentre of the areas that perpetrate terrorism suffer far more from it than we have done in our entire history—we need to take that account.

On that issue, I seek reassurance from the Secretary of State that steps will be taken to ensure that reassurance and protection are given to minority communities, because I know from my experience in Scotland that there can be those who rush to judgment and seek to apportion blame, and will, through misguided views, or indeed their prejudice and dogma, seek to carry out attacks against minority groups. Therefore, I ask that steps on that, which are no doubt probably ongoing, are carried out. Equally, I seek reassurance that as well as contest, we will seek to prevent: we need not only to protect our minority communities, but to deal with issues that are bubbling under the surface there, so as well as contesting terrorism and rightly confronting it, we need to protect communities and address injustice, wherever it is.